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Cityview Brewfest: the original craft beer festival — sample more than 500 beers at Principal Park on Saturday, May 30, from 2-5 p.m.

It all starts with one good idea. Someone thinks of an invention, tradition or event, people love it, and suddenly dozens more of those same (or strikingly similar) things come to fruition.

Beer was a good idea. Craft beer was possibly an even better idea. Microbreweries have only been around since about 1970, but in just a few decades craft beer has become the trend that doesn’t go out of style, only seeming to get bigger year after year.

It’s only fitting, then, that when a few beer festivals started sprouting up, that good idea would get the ball rolling for more similar events to appear. Cityview Brewfest was one of the first beer festivals in Iowa and the first in the Des Moines area to focus on specialty craft beers. Many others have followed, but there is only one Brewfest.

Beer enthusiasts come to Cityview Brewfest with pretzel necklaces, prepared to sample hundreds of brews.

Beer enthusiasts come to Cityview Brewfest with pretzel necklaces, prepared to sample hundreds of brews.

Beer lovers come in droves to tasting events, excited to get their fill of their favorite brews and the chance to try new brands they haven’t seen yet or perhaps haven’t been able to find in stores.

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Cityview Brewfest attendees are not amateurs. They show up to Principal Park thirsty, with strings of pretzels at the ready around their necks. This sampling event is about making the most out of each ounce and not getting one brew confused with the next.

Just like the craft beer revolution, these experienced tasters weren’t born overnight. With each festival, they become more knowledgeable about their palates and what they like. They learn the tricks of tasting and how to make the most out of a three-hour event that some wish would last all day.

Similarly, Cityview Brewfest — an event owned by Cityview with the Iowa Cubs and the Keg Stand as partners — has learned the ins and outs of beer sampling. It has grown through the years, adding new beers, VIP passes, food vendors and even a second festival with this year’s Winter Brewfest, held at the Keg Stand in February. And each year, the popularity of this specialized event grows, too.

Cityview Brewfest attendees are a diverse group of people, and what better way to cater to a diverse crowd than with an eclectic range of beers? An astounding 95 breweries will be represented at the festival this year, pouring more than 500 different beers from around the world, which means plenty of flavor to go around. Of those 500 samples, more than 100 will be new varieties to Cityview Brewfest.

Craft beer has grown not only as a mass-market product but also as a basement hobby for many beer enthusiasts. Each brewer, whether hobbyist or professional, takes his or her own spin on it, adding wild flavors or new combinations.

The hard work, creativity and time that goes into constructing a craft beer makes it an art, and what is art if it is not appreciated? That’s what Cityview Brewfest has aimed to do since the beginning.

In 2007, Cityview teamed up with local and regional beer experts to celebrate its 15th publishing anniversary with a festival similar to those that had begun to pop up in larger cities. The event was such a hit, it has been held each year since.

As craft beer became more popular, so did beer festivals, leading to the start of several other similar events around Iowa, ranging from the Iowa Craft Brew Festival in 2010 right here in Des Moines to the Algona Craft Beer Fest in downtown Algona.

These specialized events have been popping up more frequently throughout the years as more people begin to appreciate fine beers. Cityview Brewfest proudly led the pack in bringing those people an event focused solely on beer, without the distractions of other beverages or an overwhelming quantity of food. After all, a beer festival should be all about beer.

Last year’s festival gave attendees the opportunity to sample several varieties before they even entered the Iowa market, including beers from Left Hand, Surly and Lagunitas.

“We have come a long way with Brewfest,” said Cityview publisher Shane Goodman. “What started as a quaint event in 2007 with not even a couple hundred people on a downtown street has grown into a professional event with a few thousand people.”

Volunteers pour the samples while the vendors talk with attendees about each beer at the event.

Volunteers pour the samples while the vendors talk with attendees about each beer at the event.

Nearly 100 different breweries will be in attendance this year, including Squatters, Traveler, Crispin, Hof Brau, Tallgrass, Victoria, Heineken, Goose Island, Kona, Dos Equis, Blue Moon, Zipline and many more. Iowa breweries such as Millstream, Exile, Peace Tree and Madhouse will also be in attendance.

In the early years of Cityview Brewfest, the samples were donated to the festival. But in an attempt to support local businesses and the art of craft beer itself, organizers decided last year to pay distributors for all of the products at the festival.

“We are fortunate to work with good partners who we trust and who know how to make this a win for everyone involved — each partner, each beer vendor and all the attendees,” said Goodman.

Last year also saw a change in the people pouring the samples. In the past, the distributors had been doing it themselves, but legal issues now prevent them from doing so.

Instead, the event organizers asked employees and volunteers to pour the samples — but attendees still have the opportunity to talk with the experts. All of the vendors will be available at each table to speak about the brews and the brewing process. Anyone with questions or searching for advice can ask questions without holding up the sampling lines.

“We get most of the volunteers pouring beer from volunteer organizations around the city, and they receive donations to their organizations for participating,” explained Sarah Cattoor, co-owner of the Keg Stand and co-partner of Cityview Brewfest. “This year we will also have dog collars and dog treats from Green Flash Brewing for sale with 100 percent of the funds going to the Furry Friends Animal Rescue.”

Each ticket comes with unlimited beer samples, and the first 2,000 guests into Principal Park will receive a swag bag filled with an official Cityview Brewfest guide with information about all the breweries, an acrylic commemorative sampling cup, a tasting card and a pencil to write down opinions on each sample, as well as various promotional items and offers from event sponsors.

Another new addition to Cityview Brewfest came last year with the first VIP tickets and special tasting, which will continue again this year. VIP ticketholders will be welcomed into Principal Park an hour before the event at 1 p.m. with an opportunity to sample more rare and limited beers.

“Exclusive beers will be scattered throughout the park and available on a first come, first served basis,” said Cattoor.

The VIP ticket prices have been lowered to $40 this year, which gives ticketholders much more bang — or beer, in this case — for the buck. The fun doesn’t stop when you leave the ballpark, though. This year’s VIP ticket includes another special addition at no extra charge: a 32-ounce growler fill at the Keg Stand the week after Cityview Brewfest.

One thing visitors can expect to stay the same from last year is the layout. After expanding to hold the record number of attendees a couple years ago, Cityview Brewfest will spread out over the lower and upper concourses of Principal Park once again.

Several years ago, the breweries were stationed in the outfield of the park and under the bleachers, which wasn’t a large enough area to comfortably fit the crowd of people who attended the event.

Cattoor said there will also be more tables around this year to shorten the lines and cut the waiting time.

“Last year the event flowed smoothly with minimal waiting,” she said. “We are planning on replicating that this year by spreading out the beers to cover even more tables and further reduce the lines.”

“A few years ago, we simply had too many people in too small of a space,” said Nate Teut, vice president and assistant general manager for the Iowa Cubs. “The partners we were working with at the time simply wanted to pack people in, and that turned some people away in the following years.

“Last year we made some solid improvements by expanding the booths around the park and giving people more space and shortening the wait lines,” he continued. “This is simply the best venue in the city for an event like this.”

The new layout allows breweries and attendees to spread out more, and most of the space is covered where the vendors are located, so customers don’t need to worry about the sun warming the beer or possible rain ruining the fun.

The weather also had an impact on the new, earlier date of Cityview Brewfest 2015. Event organizers decided to move it up to the end of May, making it the first beer festival of the summer in Des Moines.

This move was also a strategic one to try to eliminate attendees’ fears of too-hot weather in mid-July. With crowds and drinking comes flushed faces and hot customers, but the earlier date is intended to beat the heat and ensure all attendees stay comfortable throughout the afternoon.“Those who have attended past Cityview Brewfest events on Saturday afternoons in July know how hot it can get,” said Teut. “By moving the event up to late May, we will avoid much of that summer humidity and create a more comfortable environment for everyone — rain or shine.”

Although the event remains focused on beer, a key part in keeping everyone happy and comfortable is having some food available. After all, not everyone knows to prepare his or her own edible neckwear ahead of time.

In keeping with last year’s addition of food vendors, The Hole Shabang and The Tavern will each be providing food stations in Principal Park for guests to purchase. The Hole Shabang prepares sandwiches made inside a partial loaf of bread, meaning the ingredients aren’t just layered but scooped inside a hollowed-out loaf. The Tavern will provide a variety of pizzas as well.

If that’s not enough to satisfy your stomach, though, the city’s first Iowa Beverage Food Truck Throw Down is scheduled to begin right after Cityview Brewfest at 5 p.m. in the Des Moines Social Club’s Courtyard.

The highly anticipated event is expected to draw a crowd, and it’s likely to draw a large number of Cityview Brewfest attendees since it’s just a few blocks away from Principal Park.

When so many new breweries and new beers hit the market each year, it’s only right to bring them straight to the people. That’s exactly what Cityview Brewfest has aimed to do for the last eight years, from its small beginnings with local brewmasters to its national reach with widely known brands.

It all starts with one good idea. CV



Cityview Brewfest

Christmas — er, Cityview Brewfest — is coming early this year. Instead of the usual end-of-July date, Cityview Brewfest will be held May 30.

WHERE: Principal Park

WHEN: Saturday, May 30, 2-5 p.m.

PRICE: $30 advance/$35 at the door

VIP: $40 for early entry at 1 p.m.

TICKET LOCATIONS: Principal Park, 1 Line Drive, Des Moines, and Central City Liquors, 1460 Second Ave., Des Moines

MORE INFO: Buy tickets, see photos, video and more at or

About 100 new beers will be available for sampling this year, and food will be provided by The Tavern and The Hole Shabang. The layout will be expanded through the first- and second-level concourses of Principal Park, with more tables set up to reduce wait times. The event is shaded, and attendees can relax in the stadium seats at any time throughout the event.

VIP ticketholders will be welcomed into the tasting an hour before general admission, with the opportunity to taste a small selection of exclusive beers that will be scattered throughout the event. More than 500 varieties of beer will be available for sampling this year.

Official gift bags and souvenir cups will be limited to the first 2,000 people. CV


Cityview Brewfest FAQs

Are there ATMs near the venue? Yes, there are ATMs in Principal Park Stadium.

Are there any public transportation options available? Yellow Cab is one of the sponsors and will be there to make sure participants who need a lift can get a safe ride home. Call 243-1111 for a ride.

Can I get my ticket at the door? General admission tickets will be available for $35 at the door, but tickets are only $30 if purchased in advance.

Where can I purchase tickets? Tickets are available online at, and also at the following locations: Principal Park, 1 Line Drive, Des Moines, and Central City Liquors, 1460 Second Ave., Des Moines

Where can I find more information about Cityview Brewfest? Visit the event’s official website at for more information. CV


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