Central Jersey Beer Fest is back and bigger than ever. Now in its third year, the event will be held at Mercer County Park Festival Grounds in West Windsor on Saturday, October 8, from noon to 6 p.m. Festival coordinators Antonio Carannante and Rick Stripp, Jr. of Blend Bar and Bistro in Hamilton are justifiably pumped. “Last year’s second annual CJBeerFest featured a tasting of 120 craft beers, 13 food trucks, live music, and a variety of other vendors. In 2015 3,000 suds lovers attended, more than doubling the inaugural attendance in 2014. Folks came for all over the local area, Philadelphia, and greater New York.” Such is the popularity of the event that attendees from as far afield as Connecticut were seen relishing the array of brews.

“As with past events, we will have a strong focus on education and safety all throughout the festival grounds. For example, each participating brewery is required to have an educational aspect at their station about their product. To promote our “Drink Responsibly” theme, we will once again provide shuttle service to/from Hamilton Train Station (which services both NJ Transit and Amtrak railways). We also continue to partner with UBER, this year use Code: CJBF2016, which is valid for $25 off of anyone’s first Uber trip,” Carannante says. The event will provide patrons with an unparalleled chance to sample craft beers from a wide variety of brewers, 60+ at latest count. And don’t forget the cider and mead! In all, more than 120 different and distinctive potables will be showcased.

The beer tasting is allowed for four solid hours during the festival, but there is so much more to the event; creative food vendors, great live music and backyard games, such as bean bag toss, ladder ball, Giant Jenga, and more, to make the festival a lively day out. “This is a 21+ event and no one under the age of 21 will be permitted. Everyone must have an ID no matter how old you think you look.” Carannante smiles but the coordinators are completely serious about maintaining the quality and safety of the festival. “With all the other things going on, we encourage our guests to hang out while eating, listening to live music, playing games, and supporting our various other vendors, all the while remembering to drink responsibly.”

Bands lined up to perform are Shaun Ruymen, Pat Llewellyn and the Parade, and Moot Davis. The food offerings are widely varied. Patrons can chow down on pizza, steak, tacos, BBQ and hot dogs. Vegan dishes are also available so everyone is happy. An ATM will be on site so no worries there.

This year the New Jersey Chapter 38-1 of the Combat Veterans Association is partnering with the Central Jersey Beer Fest. Monies raised from this partnership will go 100 percent toward helping American military veterans in need and organizations that promote the well-being and mental health of veterans suffering from PTSD.

The event is rain or shine and tents will be set up in case Mother Nature decides not to cooperate. The Central Jersey Beer Fest keeps getting bigger and better so start fall off with a bang and be part of the fun. Share your photos and experience of the event using #CJBEERFEST on all major social media outlets. Visit www.cjbeerfest.com to purchase your ticket before it sells out!

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