Bonnaroo, the Southeast's answer to the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, launches Thursday in Manchester, Tenn., and it boasts a lineup that includes Radiohead, the Beach Boys, Skrillex and a seminar on the various hop varieties used to brew beer. As destination festivals around the U.S. have gradually ramped up their VIP offerings, Bonnaroo and its sister festival Outside Lands in San Francisco have evolved into music-focused events for the gourmand.
The four-day Bonnaroo will boast its own house beer, a light blond ale brewed by Chico's Sierra Nevada, and showcase additional offerings from 21 breweries at its Broo’ers Festival, a tent Bonnaroo co-organizers Superfly Productions have erected for 10 years now. At the Broo’ers Festival, guests can buy pints as well as smaller tasting-sized portions. Additionally, Superfly's Outside Lands, slated for Aug. 10-12 at San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, will add a mini-craft beer festival of its own for the first time this year.
"Beermakers and winemakers are just like musicians," said Bonnaroo co-founder Jonathan Mayers. "People seek them out. There’s so much crossover between the worlds. You go to Bonnaroo and discover a new band, but you can also discover a new kind of beer."
Among the breweries slated to appear at Bonnaroo in 2012 are Brooklyn Brewery, Magic Hat, Schlafly Beer and Streetwater Brewing Co. Bonnaroo is also expanding its Broo’ers University program, in which those from the craft beer industry will host discussions and seminars about the beermaking process. The aforementioned Sierra Nevada will stage a "Hops 101" session, while representatives from Schlafly will discuss beer and comfort food pairings.
"We experimented with it last year, and it was a hit," Mayers said. "The thing is, you’re in Bonnaroo for four days. You can get tons of music in, but people want other experiences, whether it’s going to the cinema tent or checking out some comedy. There’s enough time for all of it. You’re basically living there for four days."