Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Buzz Kaas, left, his son Alex Kaas, center, and Greg Chiarello, all of Suwanee, were among the thousands who attended the Suwanee American Craft Beer Fest at Suwanee Town Center Park on Saturday.
SUWANEE -- The secret to staying power at the Suwanee American Craft Beer Fest?
"It's all about the pretzel necklace," said Darren Mills, a Gwinnett county resident attending Saturday's second annual event. Mills wore a thin piece of string around his neck with 40 loops of the salted, knot-shaped dough.
"If you go into this thing on an empty stomach you ain't gonna last all day," Mills said. "You keep these around your neck to help you pace yourself. You drink. You eat. You drink. You eat."
Mills wasn't alone. Many others donned the "pretzel necklace" at the annual event where thousands toasted a beautiful spring day, tiny tasting glasses in hand at Town Center Park.
Karma Beuelhimer and Bonnie Kahn said it was indeed nice weather. "It's the right time of year to have this," Beuelhimer said. "It's pretty hot outside, but it's not too bad."
It was a warm day, but nowhere near the heat felt by attendees during the 2011 event. The inaugural beer fest was held in July last year. Due to complaints about the hot temperature, organizers moved it to the springtime.
"A much better idea," Kahn said.
Kahn said she enjoyed herself at Saturday's beer fest, with the only complaint being the amount of time she had to wait in line to get beer. "The line was horrendous," she said. "But the beer was good, and it was worth it."
The line wasn't a big deal for friends Rebecca Williams, Jennifer Anglin, Liz Lehan and Kristy Atha. "It's not so bad, really," Atha said. "We've been getting in and out of lines, no problem."
For Chad Woods, it wasn't the beer lines that bothered him.
Woods waited in a 20-person queue leading to several portable toilets. "I don't mind the beer lines," he said, tapping his foot. "It's the bathroom lines that test my patience."
Woods and friend Michael Buckley said it was their first time at the event, but they would "definitely" come back next year. "Lots of good beer," Buckley said.
Attendees used three-ounce glasses to sample more than 250 different types of beer from 101 breweries.
Festival workers said the event, a 5,000-capacity gathering, sold out. More than 200 VIP tickets ran out more than a month in advance.
A portion of the proceeds from the Suwanee American Craft Beer Fest went to Kingdom Kids, a Gwinnett charity.
Wells didn't know his participation Saturday helped raise money for charity. After learning, he raised his glass in a silent toast. He downed his beer and popped a pretzel in his mouth.