Sprung brings spring brews to Coconut Grove Saturday

In two years of putting on Grovetoberfest, beer-festival organizer Tony Albelo said he often fields the same question: Why not throw one with spring and summer brews?

“We do Grovetoberfest in October, so naturally we have a lot of Oktoberfest beers, pumpkin beers, some spiced winter-holiday stuff,” said Albelo, owner of Coconut Grove-based Ocean Promotions. “But a lot of the best beers for Miami are ones that are easy to drink in the spring and summer: wheat ales, beers with fruit in them, ciders.”

In a survey of last year’s 6,500 Grovetoberfest attendees, 92 percent said they wanted a spring beer festival. Albelo and his team sprang into action to create Sprung, which debuts from 4 to 7 p.m. Saturday in Coconut Grove’s Peacock Park.

Many of the 150 or so beers that will be poured are spring- and summer-seasonal releases from U.S. craft breweries. The list includes Aprihop, an American-style India pale ale from Dogfish Head in Delaware that’s brewed with apricots, and Honey Vanilla Wheat from Due South in Boynton Beach that Albelo said is “super-nice for hot-weather drinking.”

Sprung also will feature the area’s first taste of beers from SweetWater Brewing Co. in Atlanta.

“They sent down 420, which is their flagship pale ale, as well as Blue, which has blueberries in it, and their IPA,” Albelo said.

Tickets to Sprung are available in three tiers, all of which include unlimited samples of beer as well as a commemorative 5-ounce tasting glass. General admission is $39. Pay $69, and you get to start your party an hour early, at 3 p.m. At $89, VIP admission gets you in at 2:30 p.m. and gives you access to snacks, limited-release beers and air-conditioned bathrooms.

Albelo said he tried to amp up Grovetoberfest’s fun factor for Sprung, adding games like human bowling, a mechanical bull and giant Jenga. Sprung also will have a bar set up with televisions showing Saturday’s University of Miami basketball game against Clemson.

Chefs from Latin House Grill, Panorama Restaurant, Pincho Factory and Pride and Joy BBQ will lead demonstrations on pairing beer with spicy food, seafood, light fare and barbecue.

“Our goal for Grovetoberfest and now Sprung is to expand craft beer in South Florida,” Albelo said. “We want people to try different beers, to find ones that they really enjoy, and ask for them at their favorite restaurants.

“People don’t know what’s out there until they look. We hope that Sprung gives them an idea of what’s out there to try.”

Former Miami Herald staff writer Evan S. Benn is the food critic and beer columnist for The St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Contact him at evansbenn@gmail.com or on Twitter @EvanBenn.