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Irish Luck: Fairfax Brewfest Falls on St. Patrick's Day

Craft beer fans will flock to the Fairfax Pavilion on Saturday for the 17th annual fine ale bash.

Every seven years, St. Patrick's Day lands on a Saturday, making it just a wee bit more festive than in other years. The 17th annual Fairfax Brewfest, Marin's only craft beer festival, surely will have a bit more spirit than usual this Saturday at the old Fairfax Pavilion.

Promoter Richard Pedemonte said 20 craft breweries — three more than last year — will open their taps from 1-5 p.m., including the best stuff from event co-host Iron Springs Pub and Brewery of Fairfax. Other locals in the lineup include Marin Brewing Company of Larkspur, and Beltane Brewing of Novato, Pizza Orgasmica and Broken Drum of San Rafael and Mill Valley Beerworks.

"Brewers say they never miss this festival because it's one of the first of the year, and they all show up themselves," Pedemonte said. "They love personally introducing their new brews for the first time."

It will be a Marin coming-out party for Beltane Brewing, which Alan Atha started in his Novato garage four years ago. He plans to open a small microbrewery in Bel Marin Keys this July. There's a strong chance he'll bring six of his home brews — Luminesce Tripel, Pandora Chocolate Ale, Rumpelstiltskin DIPA, Black Morai DIPA, Paleo Belgo Imperial Session Ale and En Suite Saison.

"He's not even open yet, but he brewed up a couple of special beers just for this event," Pedemonte said. "And 'beltane' is a Gaelic word referring to a still popular, kind of mystical ritual celebration to 'shake off the dross of winter and welcome to coming of summer.'"

The Fairfax Brewfest also is known for excellent music and food. The Gas Men were a hit with the crowd last year, so Pedemonte is bringing them back to play their traditional Irish tunes. Pedemonte's wife, Therese McInnis-Pedemonte, is preparing corned beef for sandwiches, and there will be other pub fare as well, including garlic fries.

The pavilion's capacity is 1,150, "and we will be very close to that ... in fact we might sell out," said Pedemonte, who receives help from about 15 volunteers.

Tickets are $25 in advance (online plus at Iron Springs, Marin Brewing and Moylan's) and $30 at the door. The event is the major annual fundraiser for the Fairfax Chamber of Commerce, which serves as a co-host. Revelers will get to ask questions of the brewers and vote on their favorites in several medal categories.

Check out fairfaxbrewfest.com for all the details.

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