Chad Griffith walked around the Southern Brewers Festival on Saturday afternoon wearing a visor and sandals, holding a beer in one hand and using his other hand to rub the head of the sleeping 2-month-old baby strapped to his chest.
Griffith drove with his family from Fort Payne, Ala., "for the chance to try a wide variety of craft beers, and specifically IPAs," he said.
Tom Bartoo, a Chattanooga native who has been home-brewing bitter beers for years, moved among the vendors trying his "steady-favorite brews" as well as interesting-sounding new ones.
They were part of the eclectic crowd attending the 20th anniversary fundraising festival at Ross's Landing, where more than 50 breweries offered more than 100 unique brews.
More than 15,000 people were expected to attend, according to David Sharpe, co-chairman of the festival and a regional brewer for Craftworks. This year was the first year that the event took place over two days.
"Friday night was a success, and we hope to raise a little extra money for charity and expand our reach as far as promoting craft beer to a larger audience by extending the festival to two days," Sharpe said.
Jeremy Raper, assistant brewer at Chattanooga Brewing Co., said the Chattanooga beer community "is coming along really well."
"Nationally, macro-breweries like Budweiser and Miller are having a fall in numbers," Raper said. "Craft breweries are on the up-and-up."
"The difference in our micro-brews [is] that we craft with love," Raper said with a smile.
Craft breweries must be independently owned, produce less than 6 million barrels annually and use adjuncts to enhance the flavor of the beer and not take away from it, Sharpe said.
"Chattanooga is a city where the whole local craft movement is alive and well," said Luke Millard with the Back Forty Beer Co. of Gadsden, Ala., which will be sold in Chattanooga beginning Nov. 1.
"This is our type of town," Millard said. "And this festival is one that we as a small, young microbrewery like to be a part of."
Initially, the festival drew a crowd of serious beer-drinkers, Sharpe said. The decision was made to expand the entertainment budget and bring in more musical acts, which Pieter Guilbault, of Atlanta, appreciated.
"The highlight for me has been the music," Guilbault said. "I have been really impressed with the selection."
The entertainment included Gov't Mule, Greensky Bluegrass, Soulive, AJ Ghent, Cabinet and Randall Bramblett & Friends.
Proceeds from the festival are donated to local charities. This year Chattanooga Kids on the Block and The Chattanooga Community Kitchen were the chosen recipients.
In 2013 the festival raised $174,000, and the festival has raised more than $1 million since its inception.
Contact staff writer Kendi Anderson at email@example.com or at 423-757-6592.