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Into beer: Hopfest features 70 breweries, music, games, food and seminars

Walking into Hopfest is like walking into beer heaven, with 70 breweries sharing their brews with beer enthusiasts.

Twelve vendors will be making their Hopfest debuts. They include 10 Barrel, Ale Republic, Elysian, Flix Brewhouse, Lava Rock Brewing Co., Rowley’s Farm House Ales, 377 Brewery, Four Peaks and Golden Road as well as Truly Spiked and Sparkling, which make hard sparkling water. Beer lovers who invest in a VIP ticket get to sample exclusive, limited edition beers in a private room, which also offers snacks. For those who prefer ciders and spirits, there will be several options. Imbibe will have its popular cocktail challenge. Guests will be given mini-cocktails and can vote on their favorite.

Eventgoers are contributing to the community just by enjoying great beers. A portion of the proceeds benefits several local charities, including the All Faiths Receiving Home, American Cancer Society, Battered Women’s Shelter, El Ranchito de los NiƱos and the University of New Mexico Children’s Hospital.

There is more to the festival than unlimited sampling. There are educational seminars in the education pavilion, live music on two stages and vendors of all kinds selling their jewelry and other wares. There will be plenty of fun and games, including mega beer pong. Paint Nite also will be at the event to help eventgoers create art of their own.

New to this year’s festival is live art installations.

“There’s going to be live art installations throughout the event, so we have a dozen artists coming in,” Hopfest organizer Marne Gaston said. “They’ll be painting live, so you can watch them while you’re mingling, while you’re waiting in line for your drink. … We were looking for things that I guess people can interact with throughout the event. … It’s a really fun way to interact with artists.”

Hopfest also added a couple more educational seminars.

“We’re going to do sensory analysis that we did last year with a twist, so it’s going to be a little different for everybody,” Gaston said. “And Whole Foods and Marble Brewery are going to put on a beer and food pairing seminar. They’re going to talk about how to pair your beer with food, and they’re going to be sampling cheese and nuts and things with beer. And then Chris Jackson from Dark Side Brew Crew will be talking about the history of brewing in Albuquerque. He has a book, so he’ll have the book and be doing signings.”