Consider this weekend’s CANvitational a love letter to canned beer.
The minds behind Sun King Brewery, one of the state’s most prominent beer makers, have always been partial to beer in an aluminum can. Dave Colt and Greenwood native Clay Robinson had beer can collections as kids, and as brewers, they firmly believe that cans keep beer fresh for longer.
“I’ve always enjoyed the artwork on a beer can, and when we were doing some research as a start-up brewery, craft beer in a can was novel at the time. All of craft beer was growing, but breweries putting beer in cans was doubling that,” Colt said. “Plus, aluminum is a superior vessel over glass to protect the beer.”
Indianapolis will play host to the Midwest’s largest gathering of canned beer breweries this weekend during the annual CANvitational. The day-long festival invites beer lovers to sample offerings from more than 60 craft brewers, including many that enthusiasts in central Indiana have never seen before.
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Colt and Robinson came up with the idea for CANvitational in 2013. The brewery had always packaged their own products in aluminum cans and wanted to celebrate what they believe to be the superior beer delivery system.
They had been to similar events, such as the Great American Beer Festival in Denver, Colorado, and Burning Can in Lyons, Colorado, which gather the best brewers in one place.
“We’d been to all of these festivals, and thought, ‘Hey, we can have a beer fest of our own.’ We’re a canning brewery, and we really want to bring our brewer friends from the rest of the country together to party with us in good old Indianapolis,” Colt said.
At the same time, Colt and Robinson saw the festival as an opportunity to showcase their home city. There are few other opportunities to in brewers from places such as Austin, Texas, Brooklyn, New York, or as far away as California.
“You ask if people want to come to Indianapolis, Indiana, for a weekend to drink beer, and their first reaction is, ‘Really?'” Colt said. “But they haven’t been here, and don’t understand how awesome this city is. So it’s been a way to get people in to realize there are more Midwestern cities than just Chicago.”
Now in its fifth year, CANvitational will feature more than 65 breweries. Some will be familiar to local beer buffs, such as Bell’s Brewery from Michigan, Oskar Blues Brewery from North Carolina and Hammond-based 18th Street Brewing.
But the joy in the event is discovering the beers that Indiana doesn’t get, Colt said.
Companies such as Cigar City Brewing out of Tampa, Florida, and Kenai River Brewing Co. from Alaska don’t make their way to Hoosiers, so this is the chance to try something completely new and exciting.
“We’ve continually added more breweries, and tried to focus on beer that may be hard to find in this state,” Colt said. “Breweries are coming from around the country, and one’s even coming from jolly ol’ England.”
Beer will be supplemented with food from local food trucks and music will be featured throughout the day.
On top of discovering new beers, attendees can rest assured that while they imbibe, they’re supporting their communities. All of the proceeds from the event goes towards helping Indiana nonprofit organizations, such as Art with a Heart, Gleaners Food Bank, Little Red Door and Second Helpings.
“We’re very proud of the city that we produce beer in, we try to be a good neighbor and steward. This is just another way to do that,” Colt said.
What: A celebration of canned beer featuring more than 65 breweries from around the country. All of the proceeds from the festival go to Indiana nonprofits, including Art with a Heart, Gleaners, Joy’s House and Little Red Door.
Who: Hosted by Sun King Brewing
When: 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday
Where: Downtown Indianapolis on the west block of Georgia Street
Tickets: Online, $50 for general admission, $75 to enter at noon, and $10 for designated drivers. At the gate, admission is $60.