With a wave of warm, sunny spring weather, Berkshire County nightlife is in full swing and the beer is in full flow. More about that in a minute, but first a sidenote.
I've been writing for this Berkshires After Dark column since 2005, and I have to say this may be the most exciting spring in nightlife yet. Just this past weekend, I had the pleasure seeing downtown Pittsfield host two special events -- BAMCon 2013 and Gypsy Layne.
In 2005, I would have never have thought that in one night I'd see hundreds of people turn out for their love of neon wigs and anime at the Crowne Plaza. Nor would I have expected to see a standing-room-only crowd in the ballroom of Spice Dragon tantalized and in hysterics over the seduction and comedy of a co-ed burlesque troupe.
Kudos also to opening act, the new dysFUNK dance crew of North County.
A particular shout out goes to Mr. Karden Rabin, who guest-starred as a new Gypsy Layne performer and surprised the audience and his girlfriend, Ms. Gillian Gorman, with a very real marriage proposal.
The crowd took their passionate kiss and long embrace as definitive, "yes."
But, I digress.
I'm happy to report that we no longer have to wait for fall's Oktoberfest to find celebrations centered around this sudsy libation. There's plenty going on this month.
Berkshire County's craft brew heritage is growing with Wandering Star Brewery in Pittsfield and Big Elm Brewing in Sheffield.
This Sunday, from 1 to 4 p.m., Kelly's Package Store in Dalton will give a nod to the region's homebrewing culture by hosting the Berkshire's Annual Home Brew Contest & Festival. The event's open for tasting to all, and the proceeds (tickets are $10) benefit Berkshire County Kids' Place & Violence Prevention Center in Pittsfield.
Kelly's is also partnering with Executive Chef Nicholas Moulton at Public Eat & Drink in North Adams on Wednesday night, starting at 6:30. Together they will host a five-course beer dinner for $60 featuring Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. out of California.
Find more details at kellyspackagestore.com.
For information about Public, visit www.publiceatandrink.com.
This Friday night, Big Elm is partnering with the Inn at Richmond and SoMa Catering to host a three-course family-style beer dinner, beginning at 7 p.m. The cost is $35 per person.
Dinner reservations are required and can be made by calling (413) 698-3400 or (413) 698-2566.
You can also do a tour and tasting with Big Elm every Saturday between noon and 4 p.m. Visit www.bigelmbrewery.com for details.
On Sunday, May 26, Wandering Star Brewery will be sponsoring a new festival called Summer Sound on the Tanglewood grounds in Lenox, immediately following the Memorial Day Marathon. All ages are welcome but IDs will be checked to drink.
Gates open at 11:30 a.m. and event lasts until 5 p.m. The line of musicians includes two Northampton acts -- Jamie Kent & The Options and Heather Maloney -- as well as New York City's Skyfactor and Pittsfield's own Billy Keane.
Tickets are on sale at www.summersoundlive.com for $12. Tickets can also be purchased at the Arcadian Shop in Lenox or at Wandering Star Brewery in Pittsfield, for the discounted price of $10.
In other Wandering Star news, the brewery will host a bash for birthday No. 2 on Saturday, June 15, with a "Cakes and Ales" party on Gifford Street in Pittsfield, featuring live music, beer and barbecue from 3 to 7 p.m.
Wandering Star will also be featured this summer at Pittsfield Suns games in the beer garden at Wahconah Park and the Third Thursdays beer garden at Thistle & Mirth on West Street.
As always, you can find your favorite beer on your own terms on your own time. Lots of Berkshire County bars offer local and regional brews and tastings frequently happen at area package and liquor stores, so if you're curious, just ask.
As we all know, Memorial Day is just around the corner, a common time to celebrate. So keep responsible and safe, as we raise not only a glass but also our flag to those we have lost, lest we forget.
To reach Jenn Smith:
or (413) 496-6239.
On Twitter: @JennSmith_Ink