Press Club

(Updated at 12:20 p.m.) The former Champps space at Pentagon Row is back in business as a beer-and-pizza spot.

Nighthawk Pizza will open to the public on Thursday (March 24) at 3 p.m., in the large space at 1201 S. Joyce Street, after a series of private “friends and family” nights this week.

The concept marries a 90s vibe with a pizza-centric menu and an on-site brewery operated by Aslin Beer Company. It’s helmed by Chef Johnny Spero, of Netflix’s Final Table fame plus other culinary cred, and backed by a group that includes local serial entrepreneur Scott Parker. (The group also recently opened Poppyseed Rye in Ballston.)

In addition to thin-crust pizza and beer, the menu includes a range of appetizers, salads, sandwiches, burgers, and cocktails — both handmade and on tap. The red-and-blue neon lights, bench seating and retro arcade games help to give the restaurant its 90s feel, partially offset by the abundant flat screen TVs that surround the large bar and the cavernous dining area.

“The design inspiration for the space was The Max from ‘Saved By The Bell,'” Parker noted.

In all, the brew pub has 10,000 square feet of space, plenty for the crowds Parker and company are hoping to attract from the growing neighborhood, which includes Amazon’s HQ2, set for a 2023 opening a few blocks away.

Parker said his group of partners “is already looking for our next locations for Nighthawk, as well as developing other projects.” Additional locations in the D.C. area and other cities are expected to be announced “in the coming months,” he said.

Meanwhile, Nighthawk is not the only spring opening at Pentagon Row, which was renamed “Westpost” in 2020.

“Taco temple” Banditos Bar & Kitchen is set to open in April, one restaurant over and also overlooking Westpost’s central square and soon-to-be-dismantled-for-the-season ice skating rink. Also expected to open next month are a new, 34,000 square foot Target store, on April 3, as well as sushi restaurant Kusshi.

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(Updated at 5:40 p.m.) A community fundraising campaign is helping Green Valley’s New District Brewing Company purchase its own canning equipment.

Earlier this month, Arlington’s first production brewery in a century launched a campaign to raise $8,000 in order to partially pay for a canning line (equipment used to can). The equipment can cost about $23,000, so the initial plan was to cover the rest with a loan.

“When COVID-19 hit and all the brewery tap rooms were shut down, everyone moved to canning. But we didn’t have a canning line,” says New District Brewing co-owner Mike Katrivanos. “So, what we had to do was hire a third-party company to bring a mobile canning machine in… we did it out of necessity, really.”

New District was able to can a limited selection of its beers and sell them to the public. However, the process is expensive and can be hard to schedule, since the third-party company was also working with other breweries.

So, Katrivanos and his co-owner (and brother) Stephen Katrivanos decided they needed to purchase their own canning line and to ask its customers for help.

In just 10 days, the brewery hit that original goal of $8,000 and is now moving forward with a new stretch goal of $23,000 that would allow the brewery to own the equipment outright.

As of yesterday (Jan. 26), New District has raised more than $10,700 with eight more days still in the campaign.

“We are completely blown away by community support,” says Katrivanos. “We are obviously very blessed.”

There are perks, like T-shirts, hats and mugs. For those donating more, there’s an opportunity to be an assistant brewer for the day as well as a chance to design and name your very own beer. For $2,000, one can become the official “New District Monopoly Man (or Woman),” which includes getting two cases of beer from every canning run for the next year plus a top hat and monocle.

Beyond those perks, it’s also a chance to help a local, small business continue to overcome pandemic-related challenges.

New District Brewing Company opened in 2016 in a 5,200-square-foot warehouse space at ​​2709 S. Oakland Street, near the Shirlington Dog Park and the W&OD Trail. It was Arlington’s first production brewery — as in, not an accessory to a restaurant — in a century.

Like most breweries across the country, though, the last two years have been a struggle for New District.

Sales were cut in half in 2020 and the brewery has yet to fully recover to pre-pandemic levels, Katrivanos says. With omicron emerging and few guarantees about what 2022 will have in store, the ability to can and sell beer themselves to customers is a lifeline.

“[Canning] is in many ways the only way we can earn a living,” says Katrivanos.

With the new equipment coming, New District is looking at the potential of working with local, independent beer stores — like Westover Market and Crystal City Wine Shop — to sell its beer.

After the fundraising campaign is over, it could take up to two months for the brewery to get the equipment. Which means that it may be April or May before canned New District beer is available to thirsty customers.

But Katrivanos is optimistic that, by the summer, Arlingtonians will be able to taste the suds of its labor.

“We are just thrilled to be engaged in a community like this,” he says. “It’s been an awesome ride.”

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(Updated at 6:15 p.m.) Across from the Shirlington Dog Park, locals can be found sitting at high top tables, drinking crafted beer and enjoying each other’s company again for, in some cases, the first time in over a year.

New District Brewing Co. General Manager David Warren tells ARLnow that his customers have said this brewery, which opened in 2016, is one of the only places where they felt safe coming to throughout the pandemic.

“Every day I hear someone say ‘I haven’t been to a bar in a year a half,'” Warren said. “People would say, ‘I don’t go to bars or restaurants but I come here.’ They felt safe coming to us as we adhere strictly to safety guidelines. They see us running around with isopropyl alcohol, sanitizing everything.”

Warren says traffic to the 2709 S. Oakland Street warehouse taproom has somewhat been able to return to pre-coronavirus levels without the brewery suffering too much of a financial loss. And now, the brewery is back to hosting weekly trivia and live music, and has two big events on the horizon.

He credits the establishment’s intense cleaning regimen, which predates the pandemic, as beer has to be made in highly sanitized conditions.

“If there’s one thing brewers know how to do, it’s sanitize,” said Warren. “Even one little bacteria cell can ruin a batch of beer, so sanitation has to be completely airtight because other things float around in the air.”

Since the bar reopened its taproom room in mid-June last year, Warren said “business has been gradually improving.”

After capacity restrictions lifted at the end of May, the brewery on Four Mile Run has been able to return to its original 136 person capacity, after only being able to host about 30 people at a time to maintain six feet of distance between patrons.

While the pandemic forced Warren to close the taproom and turn people away over the past year, he says the pandemic has helped strengthen loyalty to the bar among employees and the community.

“It’s been all hands on deck,” he said. “Everybody does everything. Every one of my employees here has some kind of brewing experience. Everyone will chip in around everything.”

Fans came to the rescue at the height of the pandemic to ensure their favorite spot stayed afloat.

“We have a lot of support from the community. It’s been great. A lot of people would come here out of their way and buy a four pack just to help us,” he said.

One thing that generated some extra cash is private rentals.

According to a local Facebook group, New District has become an occasional private event space for those looking to host a gathering on a budget. A poster said the brewery has an affordable minimum beer purchase for rentals and — because there’s no kitchen — they allow food trucks. Another said she brought her own food, and called this arrangement the “best option we found.”

Now, New District is back at hosting weekly public events, including local art displays on Wednesdays, trivia nights on Thursdays at 7 p.m. and live music on Fridays at 6 p.m. Warren says these events have been helping draw crowds back to the bar.

New District also has two big local appearances this month and in September.

Next Wednesday through Sunday (Aug. 18-22), New District is hosting a beer garden at the Arlington County Fair, held at the Thomas Jefferson Community Center and grounds at 3501 2nd Street S.

“We’re going to have live music, food trucks, trivia, [and] a rock carving class,” said Warren.

New District will also host its annual Valley Fest street festival — cancelled last year because of the pandemic — on Sunday, Sept. 26 from noon-5 p.m. The brewery has hosted the free community event — which highlights the hyperlocal arts scene along Four Mile Run — since 2017, excluding last year.

“We shut down the block and have a big event here,” said Warren, adding that the event will include, “art vendors, food trucks, [and] live music.”

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An Arlington pet rescue and a Dulles brewery have joined forces for a unique fundraiser that will help find new homes for dogs and cats in need.

The Lost Dog and Cat Rescue Foundation has partnered with Solace Brewing Company for the second year in a row to produce a special Rescue Ale that will be sold to raise money for the nonprofit, which is dedicated to rescuing homeless, abused, and neglected pets and facilitating their adoption.

This year’s Solace-produced Rescue Ale is an India Pale Ale brewed with mosaic and Amarillo hops at 7% alcohol by volume. It will be available for sale at the Solace Brewery on Oct. 8 and at all Lost Dog Café locations — including on Columbia Pike and in Westover — starting at 5 p.m. on Oct. 9.

The collaboration enables the rescue foundation to continue an annual tradition of working with local breweries despite challenges caused by the need for social distancing during the pandemic.

“Our annual fundraiser has always been an extremely important driver for engaging with the broader community, garnering resources, and ultimately gaining supporters that strengthen our important rescue mission,” Lost Dog and Cat Rescue Foundation public relations manager Kim Williams said. “With the generosity of Solace Brewing Co., the Rescue Ale tradition is still alive, and people can enjoy a charitable beer in the comfort of their home while supporting a worthy cause.”

A portion of all Rescue Ale sales will be donated to the foundation.

The Lost Dog and Cat Rescue Foundation first started working with local breweries to develop special Rescue Ales in 2017 when the nonprofit partnered with Alexandria’s Port City Brewing Company.

Owned by Lost Dog and Cat Rescue Foundation founders Pam McAlwee and Ross Underwood, the Lost Dog Café originated in Arlington and now also has locations in McLean, Dunn Loring, and Alexandria.

In the past, the Lost Dog and Cat Rescue Foundation hosted large fundraising events like a “Paws Vegas” carnival held at Solace Brewing Company last October, but because crowds currently pose public health risks, the nonprofit has pivoted instead to an auction with tickets for a private tour of Solace Brewing Company.

On top of a guided tour, ticket winners will get to see the canning process for this year’s Rescue Ale and receive a catered lunch, a four-pack of the Rescue Ale, Lost Dog Café and Solace Brewing Co.-branded pint glasses, and a Rescue Ale 2020 T-shirt.

Bidding on the “Behind the Brew: Rescue Ale Canning Day Fundraiser” tour started on Sept. 23 and closes at 12:00 p.m. on Oct. 26.

The Lost Dog and Cat Rescue Foundation is also holding an outdoor adoption event at Solace Brewing Company on Oct. 10. Masks and adherence to social distancing rules will be required.

The foundation, which has a rescue care center facility in Falls Church, says it has rescued 2,183 pets and facilitated the adoptions of 2,015 dogs and cats in 2020 so far.

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This sponsored column is written by Nick Anderson, beermonger at Arrowine (4508 Lee Highway). Sign up for Nick’s email newsletter and receive exclusive discounts and offers. Order from Arrowine’s expanding online store for curbside pickup.

For an upstart brewery, even the best of times can be a rollercoaster, and weathering the effects of the pandemic on the service industry is another matter altogether.

For Lorton’s Fair Winds Brewing, this has been especially true. Just a few months after opening in 2015, they won a Gold Medal at the Great American Beer Festival for their excellent Siren’s Lure Saison. The following years saw core lineup beers like Howling Gale IPA and Quayside Kölsch become mainstays of local draft lines and shelves.

Then, in January of last year, co-founder and CEO Casey Jones passed suddenly, not only breaking the hearts of all of us who knew and loved him, but leaving the young brewery without one of its guiding voices at a crucial time.

Over the rest of 2019, Fair Winds found its footing and then, well, you know — all of this. Fair Winds has managed to keep beer moving, however, thanks to a loyal fanbase, a great brewing team, and a lot of work from Sales and Operations Manager Chris Banich, who I got to catch up with during the past week.

Photo via Fair Winds

Banich started in the beer business as a part-timer at the old Rick’s Wine & Gourmet in Alexandria (where I spent my 2007-2009) and became the beer buyer and eventually the store’s GM in its final months. After stints with a couple local wholesalers/distributors, Chris spent over three years as the Mid-Atlantic Manager for Colorado’s Avery Brewing. Following his time with Avery, Chris did some consultation work for Crooked Run and has been in his position at Fair Winds for close to a year and a half now.

I wanted to ask Chris about how the brewery is doing, how its sales have been affected, and how they’ve had to adapt. The biggest difference is, of course, the dramatic shift from kegs to packaged beer. “We really had no clue what this was all going to look like,” he said.

Initially, the Fair Winds team expected to have to dump a large amount of their kegged beer as many others have had to, but they were able to convert it all to package and sell it. Their flagship Howling Gale IPA has been “averaging double digit cases sold every day out of the tap room and almost 7 times that amount per day in the market.”

“We are still brewing a ton,” Banich tells me. “Our wholesaler is begging us for more beer. We have unfortunately had to short them beer a few times” as they try to keep up with Howling Gale sales. Banich credits that wholesaler network with keeping Fair Winds beers on grocery shelves and in independent accounts.

Looking forward, Chris is trying to see the opportunities in the world that emerges on the other side of this. While many key accounts may be lost, he says, “if a thousand or so breweries close, that means a lot more open draft lines. Do we immediately make up that volume in other places?”

Also, the breweries that do manage to survive will have the pick of a wealth of talent that is suddenly on the market. Here’s to the Fair Winds team continuing to persevere.

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This sponsored column is written by Nick Anderson, beermonger at Arrowine (4508 Lee Highway). Sign up for Nick’s email newsletter and also receive exclusive discounts and offers.

Part of my job is to constantly find new beers to stock.

I like those beers, of course, but occasionally a beer comes along that really gets me. This happened recently with the new Black Rice Ale from Anderson Valley Brewing Company. At only 3.8% ABV, it ticks the “session” box; as a year-round, it ticks the “if you make something good, make it available all the time” box; it’s tasty as hell, so it ticks the “tasty as hell” box.

There’s only so much information online about Black Rice Ale, so I asked our local AVBC rep if he had anything else to pass along. What he did was put me in touch with Fal Allen, AVBC’s brewmaster since 2000 and an industry veteran who started his pro career at Redhook in 1988. Yes, I was excited to chat.

Allen told me he had tried Chinese black rice, aka Forbidden or Emperor’s rice, in a dish. “I had no idea what it was but the rich nutty flavor was compelling. I immediately thought that it would work well in a beer.” AVBC’s site describes Black Rice as a Nut Brown, in fact.

I asked Allen if the intent actually was to make a Nut Brown or if they were searching for a style to suit the black rice. “It was really a matter of finding a style that the beer fit into,” he responded, adding “it is not really a nut brown ale but people want to know what it is like… we thought that it was closest to a nut brown ale.”

Allen noted they could also have compared it to Schwarzbier, but being neither German in style, nor a Lager ruled that out “although the beer certainly tastes like a schwartz bier.”

This hit on what, to me, is probably the most intriguing aspect of Black Rice Ale — how it melds roasty flavors of Black Ales and Lagers with the nuttier tones of American and English Browns. I wondered what the black rice actually brought to the beer besides being a cool ingredient to throw in the mash. Allen said the rice gives the beer its “delicious dark color,” and “a nice nutty flavor,” and doesn’t think it contributed anything to the beer’s aroma.

Remembering how the 2014 release of AVBC’s Gose sparked a new era for the brewery (and for Sour Ales in America in general), and noticing that Black Rice arrives at the same time as the brewery’s Barrel-Aged Stouts and Porters moving from bombers to cans and the introduction of its new Hibiscus Rozelle, I asked Allen if we were seeing another instance of Anderson Valley not quite reinventing itself, but refocusing.

“I agree it does feel a little like that, but I think it was more to do with a change in attitude,” he explained. “We are not trying to reinvent ourselves so much as we are trying to get our products out to market a little better.” The unpainted cans AVBC uses allows them to more quickly take what may be initially a draft-only offering and get it out to a wider audience if the response is good.

With bottle sales way down and cans on the rise on the East Coast, that promises more cool AVBC beers on the horizon. For now, check out Black Rice Ale if you see it around.

Upcoming Beer Events at Arrowine:

TODAY — Friday, September 13, 5-7 p.m. — Tom Blanch of Sierra Nevada
Saturday, September 21, 1-4 p.m. — Devon Callan of Reason Beer Company
Saturday, October 5, 12-3 p.m. — Patrick Cashin of Charm City Meadworks
Friday, November 8, 5-7 p.m. — Jesse Ploeg of Potter’s Craft Cider

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New District Brewing Company has announced that Valley Fest will return on Sept. 29, but in the meantime, there’s honeysuckles to pick and a North-South Arlington grudge match to settle.

The event is planned to be held on the street outside the brewery at 2709 S. Oakland Street. Entrance is free with community arts and music planned for the festival, along with food and dessert trucks. A “beer package” is also available for $22, good for three tickets to sample New District beers.

Valley Fest started in 2017 as a smaller festival but expanded in 2018 as a plan to replace Capitol City Brewing’s Oktoberfest after the brewpub closed.

New District founder Mike Katrivanos told ARLnow that much of the festival will be similar to last year, but with a heavier focus on artists.

“We are getting a lot more artists this year,” Katrivanos said. “Last year, we did this cool thing where we had an artist do a piece featuring tires from the auto shops nearby. She actually made the tires into art pieces like wavy walls set up throughout the festival.”

This year, Katrivanos said he’s hoping to have a metalworking artist display their work at the festival. An artist hasn’t been selected yet — that’s expected to happen happen in July — so if anyone knows any metalworking artists they’re encouraged to reach out to the brewery for some potential work.

In the meantime, Katrivanos said there are some Arlington-focused events and features at the brewery.

“We did a North-South Arlington collaboration beer with The Board Room up in North Arlington,” said Katrivanos. “We called it Crossing Route 50. The North Arlington crowd doesn’t want to cross Route 50, so we tried to build a bridge.”

The beer is a grapefruit IPA, which Katrivanos described as having the aroma of dank citrus and tropical notes from the hops.

The other event coming up is the honeysuckle harvest, where the brewery takes 30-50 volunteers on a road trip to pick honeysuckle from various parts of Virginia. Mostly the group visits farms and parks, where honeysuckle — an invasive species — is seen as a weed.

“We bring it back to the brewery here and brew a honeysuckle hefeweizen with the fresh flowers,” said Katrivanos. “It captures all the aromatics — captures the sweet flavor of the honeysuckle and reminds you of Virginia summer. That beer is one of our beers people know us by. We’re actively campaigning for that now and we’ll be picking honeysuckle.”

For anyone interested in a weekend honeysuckle road trip, Katrivanos said to contact Michael Sutherland at [email protected].

Photo via New District Brewing Company/Facebook

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17th Annual Columbia Pike Blues Festival (photo courtesy Columbia Pike Documentary Project)

(Updated at 2:35 p.m.) The 24th annual Columbia Pike Blues Festival is hitting the streets again this June.

The free blues festival will be held on Saturday, June 15 from 1-8:30 p.m. at the intersection of Columbia Pike and S. Walter Reed Drive.

The event is organized by the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization (CPRO).

This year, the CPRO is partnering with Shirlington-area New District Brewing Company, which will serve up craft beer during the event, per an organizer’s announcement.

CPRO board president John Snyder said the organization is “delighted” to partner with New District Brewing this year.

“We love to get together with neighbors and local businesses — New District is both — and we love their beer!” Snyder said in a statement.

Thousands have attended the festival in previous years, which closes nearby roads from around 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. that day.

Details on the performance line-up, activities, and road closures are yet not available on the festival’s website.

Photo courtesy of the Columbia Pike Documentary Project

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Northern Virginia’s largest Oktoberfest is coming to Crystal City. On Sept. 29, 220 20th Street will play host to the first time to over 100 craft beers from over 50 regional breweries.

Tickets to the event are $30 if purchased in advance, or $45 at the door. Tickets give visitors entry into the festival and live entertainment, as well as ten beer sampling tickets along with a custom mug to fill.

VIP tickets, $50 in advance or $65 at the door, includes 15 beer sampling tickets, early access, a private tent and private bathrooms.

In addition to German food, the Oktoberfest will host various food trucks serving things like New York-style pizza or tacos.

But the Crystal City Oktoberfest isn’t the only one in Arlington this fall. In the wake of the closure of Capitol City Brewing, hosts of Shirlington’s annual Oktoberfest, New District Brewing is taking up the mantle and expanding its “Arlington ValleyFest” on Sept. 30.

The festival will take place at 2709 S. Oakland Street. While the event will have plenty of beer, the focus will also be on promoting local arts.

Meanwhile, on Oct. 20, the Copperwood Tavern on 4021 Campbell Ave. will also be hosting their “Shucktoberfest”, an event co-sponsored by Northern Neck’s Waverly Point Oyster Company, highlighting beer and oysters as a major draw.

Photo via Crystal City BID

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Beer lovers will have not just one, but two Oktoberfest-themed events to enjoy in the Shirlington area this fall.

New District Brewing announced this week that it’s expanding its “Arlington ValleyFest” event to help pick up where Capitol City Brewing, long the hosts of an Oktoberfest celebration, left off after the brewpub closed this spring.

But restaurateur Reese Gardner tells ARLnow that he’ll also be hosting an Oktoberfest gathering along Campbell Avenue, in and around his Copperwood Tavern (4021 Campbell Avenue), ensuring that the Village at Shirlington will still have a fall beer festival even with Cap City gone.

Gardner is dubbing the event “Shucktoberfest,” as it will be co-sponsored by the Northern Neck’s Waverly Point Oyster Company, and it’s now set for Oct. 20. He says he secured an agreement from the shopping center’s landlord to host the event shortly after Cap City closed up shop in April, and recently finalized securing the necessary permits from the county.

Gardner said 19 Virginia breweries have committed to attend, many of which served up their suds at Cap City’s Oktoberfest events. Gardner says the event will feature “oyster tents” and other food options, as well as a “kids’ zone” and game area that will include cornhole.

Tickets will be available for the event on its website. Gardner is also looking for volunteers to help staff the festival.

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Capitol City Brewing might’ve closed up shop in Shirlington, but some of the area’s remaining brewmasters are trying to keep the spirit of the brewery’s popular “Oktoberfest” celebration alive.

Cap City started hosting an annual Oktoberfest event back in 1999 at its former location in the Village at Shirlington. The brewpub’s sudden closure back in March marked the end of that event, but the New District Brewing Company is hoping to fill the void with a similar event just across Four Mile Run.

The brewery is planning to host “Arlington ValleyFest” around its home on 2709 S. Oakland Street on Sept. 30, the same weekend Cap City traditionally convened Oktoberfest.

New District founder Mike Katrivanos told ARLnow that he envisions that ValleyFest can “pick up the mantle” of what Cap City started.

“With every end coming, there’s a new beginning,” Katrivanos said.

Katrivanos says New District hosted ValleyFest for the first time last year, but on a substantially smaller scale. They put on the festival the first weekend of November, but he says the chilly weather made that a “not very desirable date” moving forward.

But when he saw that Capitol City would be closing up shop, he decided to call around and check with other business owners to see if anyone else would be hosting Oktoberfest instead. He discovered that no one was especially interested in doing so, and he set about seeing if he could move up ValleyFest a bit.

Katrivanos quickly secured the county’s approval for the change, and even earned permission to double the festival in size. The event will now run nearly the length of S. Oakland Street, after it intersects with S. Four Mile Run Drive, running past the Shirlington Dog Park.

“We really hope to kind of replicate Oktoberfest, though hopefully not in the drunken mob type of sense,” Katrivanos said. “We’re not trying to get that crowd coming to consume too much, but we definitely are trying to create an enjoyable vibe centered around a large event.”

While Katrivanos says the event will have plenty of beer on hand, he also wants to be focused on local art, especially given the debate around the best ways to promote the arts in the Four Mile Run Valley as part of the county’s review of its plans for the area.

Katrivanos expects to have a variety of local artists on hand, as well as the Arlington Art Truck. He’s even planning a “pop-up” art installation he hopes will be a “Burning Man-style exhibit built in one day.”

He added the event will also include some of the same vendors who staffed Cap City’s Oktoberfest will be in attendance, with food trucks and even a “Ben and Jerry’s Dessert Truck” serving up treats.

The festival will run from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sept. 30. The event will be free, but New District is offering deals for beer tickets on the event’s website.

Photo via Facebook

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