HOLLAND — When Justin Mendez attended New Holland Brewing’s Hatter Days Street Party in 2014, he could hardly move because it was so packed with craft beer fans.
However, this year after the party moved from a downtown Holland street to a spacious parking lot behind the brewery’s pub, Mendez had room to focus on his goal: trying all seven Hatter-style beers on tap for the event.
“It was hard to traverse [last year]. I think it is growing and that is a good thing,” he said as he listened to a band playing on the main stage. “There is no way they could keep it in the street.”
As the cloudy Saturday afternoon turned into a sunny evening, crowds flooded into the grounds, heading right for beer, straight for music and left for food. Throughout the parking lot, the Daredevil Circus entertained guests with juggling on stilts, air acrobats and balancing acts.
Hatter Days offered a relaxed, carnival-like atmosphere, catering to all ages with photo booths, lawn games and coloring activities. As the opening band, Delilah DeWylde and the Lost Boys, played honky tonk country, rockability and surf music, guests started dancing in front of the massive stage.
“If you want to get hot and sweaty, this is the place to be,” said Delilah DeWylde, the band’s lead singer.
To cool down, the crowd gathered around tall tables and enjoyed tasting New Holland’s ales.
The annual event, which celebrates New Holland’s birthday and its growing lineup of Hatter-style beers, is a can’t-miss summer activity for Mendez and his friend, Chris Darling.
Early on Mendez tried the newest Hatter, the Tasmanian Hatter (7% ABV), a galaxy IPA featuring hops from the New Zealand, Australia and the Pacific Northwest regions.
“It’s definitely different,” he said. “It seems subdued compared to the other ones.”
One of his top choices two hours in? The White Hatter (5.5% ABV), a Belgian-style White Pale Ale that has citrusy notes perfect for the season.
“I think it’s an awesome summer beer,” he said.
Darling returned to their tall table, perfectly situated in the center of the event, with another round of beers, this time the Oak Aged Hatter (7.22% ABV). He was impressed by the oak-aged IPA after only one sip.
“A good oak flavor,” he said, pausing to reflect on the taste he just experienced. “Almost a sweetness on the backside of it.”
Chris Warner planned on spending Saturday afternoon simply purchasing a paddleboard. But when he came across the Hatter Days Street Party, he couldn’t resist stopping in.
Warner, an Indianapolis resident familiar with the burgeoning craft beer scene there, said he was enjoying the event and more importantly, the beer.
“The Oak Aged Hatter was really good,” he said. “You can taste the bourbon, the kick in it.”
He also appreciated the Michigan Awesome Hatter (5.8% ABV), a Michigan grown IPA that features hops from Northern Michigan.
“It’s a little lighter,” he said. “Good for a hot day.”