The massive craft-beer festival Grovetoberfest is back, but not a drop will be poured in Coconut Grove.
Instead, the sixth annual fall beer gathering will be held at Miami Marine Stadium on Virginia Key, some six miles from its original home in the Grove's Peacock Park. On Saturday, Oct. 15, 101 local and national breweries will serve 400 beers in the shadow of the graffiti-covered landmark. Also moving from Peacock Park to join Grovetoberfest is the Coconut Grove Seafood Festival, taking place Sunday, Oct. 16, at the stadium.
The exodus from the Grove can be blamed on heavy rainfall, mud and field damage at Peacock Park during last year's Grovetoberfest. The damage forced the Miami City Commission to impose tough new restrictions on the park. One of them: The city could call off any event it deemed could damage the fields. The city also spent about $45,000 to re-sod the grass, according to city budget documents.
For Tony Albelo, whose event agency Swarm programs both festivals, the new policy was more than he could stomach.
"It didn't work out for us this year, so we moved the festivals to the stadium," Albelo says. "We'd been doing the festival there for five years, and we never had this perfect storm of torrential downpours. It was just a bad situation all around."
Albelo counts the move to Miami Marine Stadium as a fortuitous one. A massive parking lot framing the derelict stadium can accommodate up to 2,000 cars, allowing festivalgoers to avoid the street-parking woes they encountered at Peacock Park. And Grovetoberfest is increasing in scale: 400 beers, up from 300 in 2015. Albelo says "every local brewery" will erect a beer tent on the property, including newcomer Civil Society Brewing in Jupiter, Boynton Beach nanobrewery Devour, Funky Buddha Brewery in Oakland Park and Miami Brewing Company in Homestead.
"So many of these breweries are red-hot right now, but we also have many you don't normally see in any festival," Albelo says. "We've always prided ourselves on getting esoteric craft beers, the coolest and baddest limited releases. But Grovetoberfest isn't a 300-person beer-snob thing. Five thousand people will be there."
Along with local beers, a Homebrew Pavilion will feature craft beers made by South Florida homebrewers, along with a homebrew contest. Head brewers from MIA Beer Company, the Tank Brewing Company and LauderAle have all passed through Grovetoberfest's homebrewing competition, Albelo says.
A lineup of food vendors will be on hand, and a Kitchen Lab will host food and beer pairing demonstrations from chef Ryan Martin of 180 Degrees at the DRB and Zeke Man of 305 Brews.
Shuttle vans will take festivalgoers who park at the Vizcaya Metrorail Station to and from Miami Marine Stadium.
Albelo, who says he sympathizes with the city, plans to return Grovetoberfest to Peacock Park in 2017 with extra precautions. But the Coconut Grove Seafood Festival will stay put. That festival, timed to kick off stone crab season, will bring 25 seafood vendors, mojito bars, wine lounges, chef demonstrations and live Caribbean music.
"Keeping the festival on the water just makes sense," Albelo says of the seafood festival. "We're in a place where the Biscayne Bay breeze just hits you from both sides of the island. It just feels right."
Grovetoberfest will take place 4-7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 15, and Coconut Grove Seafood Festival will run 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 16, at Miami Marine Stadium, 3501 Rickenbacker Causeway, on Virginia Key. Admission is $40-$45 for Grovetoberfest, $15-$59 for the seafood festival. Call 305-461-2700 or go to Grovetoberfest.com and CoconutGroveSeafoodFestival.com.
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