Beer fest back this August

Jul 16, 2021

Matt Pyhala and Soldotna Rotary Club have been putting on the Kenai Peninsula Beer Festival for a decade.
Credit Sabine Poux/KDLL

Soldotna Rotary is celebrating a decade of beer. It’s holding its 10th annual Kenai Peninsula Beer Festival next month, with lots of familiar craft brew faces — from Kenai River Brewing, Kassik's and St. Elias on the central peninsula, to Cooper Landing Brewery and Palmer’s Bleeding Heart.

Matthew Pyhala with Soldotna Rotary helped get the beer festival started.

“And like many things in Rotary, if it’s your idea you kind of get saddled with it," he said. He’s been working on it since.

The festival raises money for a local project each year. Pyhala said they typically bring in between $12,000 and $14,000.

This year, the money’s going to the Kenai Peninsula Peace Crane Garden Trails — an ongoing project to build a Japanese-themed garden and 2,700 feet of trails near Marydale and Riverwatch in Soldotna.

Pyhala’s on the board of directors for the project. Soldotna Rotary has also been a sponsor of the trails. Pyhala said the Rotary board of directors made the decision to send proceeds to the project independently.

Self-described "cosmic country jam band" Edge of the West is headlining the festival and local rock group Hot Mess is opening. Pyhala said there will be food trucks on tap.

“Whenever you have something like a beer festival, you want to have the opportunity for people to eat some food," he said. "Because it’s about being responsible.”

He said August can be a hard month to gather breweries, since many are drained from the summer. But he said the timing also makes it a good capstone for the season.

"It’s always had this feel to me of an end-of-summer party or gathering for our community," he said. "We have, certainly, people that come from out of town. But by and large it’s a local king of thing. So having that as a keystone kind of thing for our end of summer, it’s cool. That’s the neatest thing for me.”

You can get tickets for the Kenai Peninsula Beer Festival at kenaibeerfest.com