UPDATE: Festival organizer Ricki Black says Sarasota brewpub Darwin's on 4th will be serving their beers at the festival again. Bradenton's Little Giant Brewery can't make it because of a scheduling conflict. Sarasota Brewing Co. had to cancel after my print deadline, so Thursday's Ticket column incorrectly says they will be there.
The annual Sarasota Beer Festival returns Saturday to Robarts Arena from 5 to 9 p.m. As in years past, your ticket ($25 in advance at select locations, $30 online and $35 at the gate) gets you unlimited samples of more than 100 beers in distributor/sponsor Gold Coast Eagle's portfolio, along with food from local restaurants.
What stands out to me this year is Sarasota brewery-in-planning Big Top Brewing Co. is scheduled to debut its first beers at the festival. This brewery has been keeping a low profile, and I'm looking forward to my first taste of their brews. According to a Facebook post, they will be giving away beer glasses, too.
This is Sarasota's largest beer festival. Gold Coast Eagle is the exclusive distributor, so you won't see any beers they don't carry. In addition to Big Top, look for Florida breweries Bold City Brewery and Florida Avenue Ales. Thanks to the air-conditioned arena, it doesn't matter that it's during super-hot August.
Paper Airplanes is the featured band again.
Advance tickets can be purchased at Growler's Pub, World of Beer, The Shamrock Pub, Cock & Bull Pub, Tavern on Main, Rossiter's Harley-Davidson, Manatee Harley-Davidson, Lost Kangaroo Pub and both locations of Maduro's Cigar Bar.
Growler's Pub is also selling $50 VIP tickets, which get you instant entry, a private seating area, a full meal, exclusive beers and wines and more.
For more information visit floridabeerfestivals.com.