The definition of a microbrewery is anything smaller than Anheuser-Busch, at least according to the Augusta Bottoms Beer Festival. Put on by the Augusta Brewing Co., thirteen brewers not associated with the "Waaaasssssuuuup?!" guys will serve samples of their wares as a benefit for the beautification of the Augusta trailhead and for Earth's Classroom, an organization that teaches kids about the environment (noon-5 p.m. on the ballfield near the Katy Trailhead in Augusta, $20, 314-588-8686, www.augustabrewing.com).
What drinking beer and saving the Earth have in common is hard to say, but who cares! Brewers represented will include Schlafly, Boulevard, the O'Fallon Brewery, St. Louis' Morgan Street Brewery, Cape Girardeau's Buckner Brewing Company and Fort Collins, Colorado's New Belgian Brewing Company (the makers of that beer that got you laid so many times in college, Fat Tire).
Even something called Route 66 beer will be available on tap, and you can sample each variety in your commemorative tasting glass. The sample "pours" are only an ounce, but don't worry, you can have seconds! In fact, have thirds in hopes of appreciating the folksy sounds of the Augusta Bottoms Consort and their bluesy counterparts, Muddy Tracks, both playing. Century Club, anyone? -- Ben Westhoff
That's a-Spicy Meatball-a
Italian Fest returns
When you think of major Italian-American metropolises, you of course think New York, San Francisco and Collinsville. Yeah, well, you should think of Collinsville. Currently bracing for the twentieth edition of their annual Italian Fest, Collinsville successfully transforms Main Street into a Little Italy with streets teeming with Italian Ice vendors, bocce ballers and even a grape stomp for one weekend a year. Sure, everyone speaks with that flat Midwestern "A" instead of that Fonzie "Aaaaa," but when you're eating a "Messi Giuseppi" (Collinsville's Italianized version of the Sloppy Joe), no one does much talking. The Italian Fest runs from 10 a.m. Friday, September 19, through midnight Saturday, September 20. Check out www.italianfest.net for the latest info. Salut! -- Paul Friswold
The Rise of Fall
"Back to school" means nothing to you. The kids have either been out of the house or they were never around. When you think about the end of summer, it's not about children. It's about the humidity disappearing and the desire to move your body returning. While the days grow shorter, you find yourself leaving the air-conditioning more often and craving things like smoky wood fires, flannel sheets and apples fried in cinnamon sugar. As you get yourself a spoonful, you wonder why summer's gloaming can't last forever. No other time of year summons forth such ruminations on the seasonal cycle, and still no one has come up with a word to describe that feeling of not caring if you live another year, so long as the warm, sleepy sunshine of late September lasts just a little bit longer. -- John Goddard
Black (Horse) Power
Nelly may be trying to make inroads into racing culture with his ownership of a Craftsman Truck Racing Team, but the United Black Drag Racers Association are living the dream. African-American drag racers run the strip at Gateway International Raceway (700 Raceway Boulevard, Sauget, IL; 618-482-2400) this weekend, culminating in Black Sunday, the UBDRA's major race. Tickets are $35 for a weekend pass, or $10-$20 per day. -- Paul Friswold