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Beerfest serves up side of wings Beer connoisseurs get their chance sample hundreds of brews at annual festival.

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Friday, Oct. 14, 2011, at 12:08 a.m.

Few things go better with an October afternoon than a frothy beer.

And few things go better with a frothy beer than a plate of chicken wings.

On Saturday afternoon, Century II's exhibition hall will be buzzing with beer, chicken wings and people who appreciate them at the 11th annual Midwest Beerfest, a beer sampling and fundraiser put on by the local chapter of the American Institute of Wine and Food.

This year's event will allow ticket holders the chance to sample from 372 beers, ranging from Budweiser basics to new-to-Kansas microbrews.

It'll also feature a return of the Midwest Chickenfest, an event-within-an-event introduced last year that offers a sampling of chicken wings prepared by local restaurants. Attendees can get a plate of 11 chicken wings made by cooks from The Anchor, Larry Bud's, Bubba's Nekked BBQ and more for an extra $5 charge.

A panel of foodie judges will pick a winning wing, but festival attendees determine a people's choice winner. Last year's judges' choice was Bubba. The Anchor is the defending people's choice champ.

The list of beers available for sample is long and includes the wares of three brewers newly available to the Kansas market: Green Flash Brewing, O'Fallon Bewing and Summit Brewing. Guy Bower, a local beer and wine expert and the festival's founder, said he's particularly impressed with Summit's IPA, which he said is must-sample.

One table will offer a selection of seasonal pumpkin-flavored beers. And Granite City, a popular brewery with two local restaurants, will offer samples of its beers for the first time this year.

All of the beers at the festival are available in Kansas liquor stores, Bower said.

The Beerfest traditionally draws a crowd of around 1,500, most of whom can be divided into two categories, Bower said.

"There are your diehard enthusiast beer geeks who want to taste anything new and are pretty serious about it," he said. "Then, there are those who like beer and like the whole festival atmosphere that goes with the Beerfest, but they're not as serious."

Both brands of beer drinkers should keep in mind, Bower said, that the festival is intended to get beer fans educated, not sloshy.

"It's a tasting opportunity, not a drinking opportunity," he said. "And there will be ample surveillance."

In addition to chicken wings, patrons also can purchase food from several local restaurants, who will offer inexpensive base-builders such as burgers and barbecue.

Children's Miracle Network Hospitals at Via Christi Health will receive all the proceeds not only from the Chickenfest but also from a silent auction. Other money raised goes toward a local AIWF culinary scholarship.

If you go

11th Annual Midwest Beerfest

What: A tasting event by the American Institute of Wine and Food

Where: Century II Exhibition Hall

When: 1-4 p.m. Saturday

How much: Tickets are $35 at Century II's WichitaTix box office, at www.wichitatix.com, by calling 316-219-4TIX or at the door. Designated driver tickets are $12 and don't include beer.

Chickenfest admission is $5 on-site.

For more information, visit midwestbeerfest.com.

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