Swank Farms hosting its version of Oktoberfest

Nine breweries and a cider company will showcase their beverages.

Oktoberfest comes to San Benito County as Swank Farms hosts its own version, the first annual Hoptober Fest.

On Oct. 1, 10 local breweries will join in a one-day celebration of hops and ciders in a special event on the opening day of the Swank Farms Experience. Ticket Holders will receive their choice of five 5-oz. beer tastings along with a souvenir beer glass.

“We have seen some other prominent breweries that have done harvest festivals at farms,” said Pour Decisions co-owner John Cuilla. “And we thought, ‘We have a very notable pumpkin patch and corn maze right here in Hollister. It is local, it celebrates the agriculture of San Benito County, and what would be better than to pair that with delicious beverages with food, family and fun.” 

Besides hosting the event, Swank Farms will be featured as one of the brewers, serving their Barn Party Pilsner. Owner Dick Swank is currently working on doubling his production of beer, which he has been serving at weddings and events held at his farm.

“Dick has wanted to do something like this for a while,” Cuilla said. “He has worked hard on that brewery, and we were happy to help because it is all part of our game: fun and beer. I think he will do a good job, and I think next time we will have more brewers participate just because he is such a great guy and so easy to work with.”

Besides Pour Decisions and Swank Beer Experience, two other Hollister brewers, Grillin & Chillin Alehouse and Mad Pursuit Brewing Co., will be on hand along with San Juan Bautista’s Brewery Twenty Five.

“We are looking forward to going out there,” said Sean Fitzharris, co-owner of Brewery Twenty Five. “We will bring a couple of things, including our Island Ninja Milkshake IPA, which we make with pink guava, blood orange, and passion fruit. It is the first time we have released this one this season.”

Five out-of-county breweries will also be in attendance: Brew-n-Krew Ale House (Salinas), Alvarado Street Brewery (Monterey), Kelly Brewing Company (Morgan Hill), Promised Land Brewing Company (Gilroy), and TenFiveOne Cider Co (Morgan Hill).

“When Pour Decisions came to me with the idea, I told them I was all in,” Swank said. “They have helped invite all the breweries, and we got a good number, even though we put this all together at the last second. I am already thinking about next year. I know we can get more breweries, and we might do it on two weekends next time. We just have to get a feel from the breweries afterward about how they think this event went.”

The Hoptober celebration will run from noon to 6 p.m. There will be food available for purchase from the Steak Stop food truck and live music by the Otilia Donaire Band. Separate admission is required for the Swank Farm Experience. 

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Robert Eliason

I got my start as a photographer when my dad stuck a camera in my hand on the evening of my First Grade Open House. He taught me to observe, empathize, then finally compose the shot.  The editors at BenitoLink first approached me as a photographer. They were the ones to encourage me to write stories about things that interest me, turning me into a reporter as well.  BenitoLink is a great creative family that cares deeply about the San Benito community and I have been pleased to be a part of it.