One of Southern Illinois’s most enjoyable festivals, The Big Muddy Monster Brewfest is back from noon to 4 p.m., Saturday at Riverside Park in Murphysboro.
Featuring unique craft beers from more than 78 local and regional breweries, the festival offers beer lovers the chance to sample a wide variety of distinct brews.
Eight years ago, the Friends of Murphysboro organized the festival to showcase the craft beers of Murphysboro and a growing number of other breweries popping up throughout the Southern Illinois region. Proceeds are donated to local charities, and attendees enjoy the natural outdoor beauty of historic Riverside Park. Live music provided by Nine88 and Rusty Nail will entertain folks while they taste beers from Scratch Brewing Company, Big Muddy Brewing, St. Nicholas Brewing Company, Molly’s Pint, 4 Hands from St. Louis, and many, many others.
An example of the interesting and different brews to be sampled at the festival is Southern Illinois’s own Scratch Brewing Company. Using all farmed and foraged ingredients, Scratch is a farmhouse brewery found just a few miles outside of the Shawnee National Forest. Outside Magazine named Scratch as one of the top four breweries in the country for foraged beer. Using ingredients such as nettle, elderberry, ginger, dandelion, maple sap, hickory, lavender, juniper, and chanterelle mushrooms, Scratch offers an ever-rotating selection of one of a kind brews. Among their most popular are the Carrot Weiss and the Basil IPA.
The festival also hosts the final judging of the Home Brew Competition. The top three finishers of each category are recognized and awarded in an annual awards ceremony, which starts during the festival around 2 p.m.
In years past, the Brewfest was held from 1 to 4 p.m., but this year, it begins at noon. To fill another hour, at 4 p.m., Aaron Kamm and the One Drops will perform in the Riverside Park band shell until 5 p.m. The band hails from St. Louis and features a musical fusion of Roots Reggae and Mississippi River Blues.
This year, the festival is offering free bus rides to and from the festival at locations, including Brews Brothers Tap Room, Martel’s Pizza in Murphysboro, and Tres Hombres in Carbondale. The bus rides run from 10:30 a.m. until 1 p.m., and again from 3:30 until 5:30 p.m.
With food vendors, live music and other entertainment, and a plethora of fun and interesting selections of craft beer to sample, the event provides entertainment for the beer connoisseur, novice or nondrinker alike.
Admission price is $40 for the day of the event and $60 for the day of the event for the Imperial Tent. Nondrinkers can enter the festival for $5.