BISMARCK, N.D. (KXNET) — In a city as full of bars and independent breweries as Bismarck, it goes without saying that we’re big fans of beer. As such, it’s only natural that festivals and events frequently spring up to celebrate the accomplishments and new creations of local breweries. One of these events — known as the Bismarck Beerfest — served as not only a fantastic way for the people of our city to learn more about the brewers in the city, but for the brewers themselves to network, learn from one another, and put some of their newest or most famous mixes to the test.

While there weren’t too many different brewers at the Bismarck Beerfest, everyone there was excited to not only show their stuff, but to take the opportunity to introduce themselves (or further their contributions) to the community’s finest palates.

“For the community, at least,”, explains a manager and brewer at Gideon’s Brewing Company who asked to be referred to as ‘Woody’, “it gives you an opportunity to come out and do something. I know especially in the wintertime, days can kind of start moving slowly, so it gives you something to look forward to, especially if it’s not so nice outside.”

The Beerfest comes at a surprising time of the evening, too: Saturday was also the date that both Great White and Slaughter — two of the 80s’ biggest groups — played in the exact same room as the Beerfest took place (the stage was even prepared and visible during the sampling!). With the showcase ending an hour before the concert, many attendees to the evening’s main attraction saw it as the perfect pre-show warmup. After all, what’s a rock show without a nice drink to go with it?

At the Beerfest, a $50 fee not only netted visitors a keychain, but also a punch card that could be redeemed for 18 shots of any of the beverages offered around the arena. Considering there were 21 on display, that’s a hefty amount: without returning for another glass, 6/7ths of all the offerings could be sampled with one card. For those who like alcohol, it’s a quick trip to an all-you-can-drink buffet (at least, until you run out of punches). For the craft beer aficionado, it’s also a chance to get to know the craft brewers in and around your area. As for which beers were on display? Tastes ranged from hard cider to vodka and juice seltzers and more obscure fare like Gideons’ own Manga Habanero beer.

“We love being a part of the culture of craft brewing,” continues Woody. “Craft beer, like anything else, is a craft, and if you’re passionate about it, it gives you an opportunity to go out and talk about the beers, and have a shared experience hanging out with some good friends. You’ll notice that a lot of people who go out to craft breweries hang out in the same circles, and it’s always nice to see new faces, too.”

“You can see all the products that we’re bringing in,” continues Nicolas Bauer, a sales representative in training for Johnson Brothers Distributors. “All sorts of new varieties and things you wouldn’t normally taste. We have a pickle beer, and a Margarita Gose. All sorts of different things, and all sorts of brewing styles from around the world. And people are liking them: the Pickle beer is actually pretty popular.”

This event isn’t just beneficial to those who get to sample the goods, however: according to local brewers and even those from out-of-state, events like this are a great opportunity to practice what they’ve learned and share their skills — not just with the public, but between each other as well.

“We definitely learn from each other,” says Woody. “As one of the newer brewers, especially… I’m always able to reach out and talk to the other brewers about anything they’ve ever done or had experience with. I think it’s an absolutely fantastic relationship that all the breweries have in town. It’s all love. If there’s anything going on, it always seems like we’ve always got each other’s backs. The craft beer industry is very inclusive- a very ‘come here, we’ll figure it out’ kind of culture.”

With an evening of good drinks, good company, and a good concert after it all, visitors to the Beerfest showed that interest in the craft brewing industry here in Bismarck is just as strong as ever. And believe me: if I didn’t have to drive back to the newsroom, I’d be celebrating that fact with them.