Annual Fermentation Celebration

North Vernon Plans a 'Spirited Event'

VERNON, Ind. – When he talks of craft beers, Jeremy Ochs might as well be playing his bass or holding forth on music. There is no doubt in his mind that craft beers belong to the realm of beauty, much like the world of music. He likes to compare craft beer makers to musicians because of their passion, creativity and community.
“It’s a beautiful world that people take really seriously,” he said. Craft brewers always are pushing the envelope to come up with new ideas. It is a world away from cans of beer that are guzzled and tossed to the roadside.

Ochs and his partner, Jessica Risacher, are among the millions of people who treasure craft beers. Just over a year ago, they bought Old Vernon Liquors, on the square in Vernon, Ind. As they updated the store, they began stocking it with more craft beers. Now it has one of the best selections of craft beers in the area, they say. They are pleased that customers come from out of Jennings County to shop for their favorites. Fermentation is one of their favorite words.
Old Vernon Liquors is sponsoring its inaugural Fermentation Celebration in Jennings County on June 25. The festival will be located at the picturesque Muscatatuck Park and Campgrounds in North Vernon, Ind. The celebration will start at 2 p.m. with a tasting from 2-6 p.m. Visitors will be able to choose from more than 35 national and local breweries and wineries, which will offer more than 100 different beers and wines. An evening concert and beer garden will start at 7 p.m., as the tasting concludes. 
Live music will entertain visitors throughout the event. Musicians include Chris Jesse of Madison; Derrick Howard, the Hawcreek Experience and Assorted Flavors. Potential Sumo Wrestlers (or wannabes) can sign up to put on a suit and try out their skills on a mat sponsored by Pabst Blue Ribbon. Mike’s Hard Lemonade is sponsoring a photo booth. HammAle Brewing Co. will present a “Home Brew Workshop” for people who want to learn more about making their own beer.
There also will be wineries from Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky, according to Ochs. They include Easley Winery, Gnarly Grove Hard Cider, Huber Winery, Mike’s Hard Lemonade, Old 502 Winery, Oliver Winery, Palm Breeze, Purple Toad and Simmons Winery.
Breweries include 450 North Brewery, Against the Grain, Bloomington Brewing Co., Carson’s Brewing Co., Coney Island Brewing Co., Country Boy Brewing, Dogfish Head Brewing Co., Falls City Beer, Goodwood Brewing Co., Goose Island Brewing, Kona Brewing Co., New Holland Brewing Co., Oskar Blues Brewing Co., Powerhouse Brewing Co., Quaff On Brewing Co., Rivertown Brewery and Barrel House, Samuel Adams, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., Southern Tier Brewing Co., Summit Brewing Co., Sun King Brewery, Switchyard Brewing Co., Taxman Brewing Co., Tinman Brewing Co., Tow Yard Brewing Co., Triton Brewing Co., Twisted Crew Brewing Co. and Upland Co.  
There also will be six distributors, Cavalier Distributing, Monarch Beverage, North Vernon Beverage, Republic National Distributing Co., Rhoades Beverage Co. and World Class Beer.
Breweries, wineries and distillers have donated various items with their logos for a “swag raffle.” Visitors can bid of these items, some of which include a golf bag, a mini-refrigerator, T-shirts, skateboards and coolers. Risacher said 100 percent of this charity raffle will be donated to the Jennings County Youth Foundation, while proceeds from ticket sales will be donated to the Muscatatuck Park and Campgrounds for rebuilding of its outdated playground and recreational equipment.    
Risacher said she hopes the event will draw from 1,500 to 2,000 visitors. Ochs is a bit more conservative in his estimate, hoping for 800 to 1,000 visitors the first year. He wants “to bring a party to our sleepy little town” and help boost the economy. He sees Indiana as a business-friendly state that has enabled home brewers to develop their hobbies into small businesses or show them as arts or crafts. One of these days, he would like to get involved in the brewing side of the business, too. Meanwhile, the former electrician and musician said he is “excited about life” and involved in his new business.
General admission for persons 21 years or older is $40, which includes unlimited samples of beer and wine, a souvenir glass and entry to the after party. Primitive camping is included. No parking is allowed at the campsite. There are several other ticket options. It is best to check online at www.FermentationCelebration.com. There also is a cheaper ticket for the designated driver at $10.  
Ochs said he hopes the festival will give another stage for an already established community of craft brewers, as well as an up-and-coming industry. In the United States alone, the craft beer industry has grown. Craft beer lovers in the United States now can select from more beer styles and brands than from any other market in the world.
“This fast growing market has exploded in the past three to five years nationally,” Risacher said. Even the giant brewer, Anheuser Busch, saw a drop in sales due to the number of craft breweries nationally, she said. In 2014, there were 3,464 operating breweries. Of these, 3,418 were considered to be craft breweries, which make no more than 2 million gallons of beer per year. Microbreweries are limited to 15,000 barrels. Statistics from the Brewery Association in 2014 say the industry grew by 10.9 percent in 10 years.

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