Sheridan’s first ever Chamber of Commerce Brewfest was held in 2012 and was met with resounding support. It provided a showcase for 16 brewers from Wyoming and surrounding states — as well as three regional beer distributors — to showcase their finest creations. This year’s event is set for Aug. 29.

While the country’s largest brewers likely aren’t going away anytime soon, there’s reason to believe that craft brews are the future of American beer. According to the nonprofit Brewers Association—a trade group that claims to represent more than 70 percent of the national brewing industry — craft beer sales have seen explosive growth in the last decade.

The group estimates that craft brewers sold almost 11.5 million barrels of beer in 2011. That’s up from 10.1 million barrels in 2010, and the growth doesn’t appear to be leveling off. The industry also provides an estimated 104,000 jobs across the country.

The growth of the craft beer market stands in contrast to overall beer sales, which declined slightly in 2010 and 2011.

The demand for craft beers has driven the success of microbreweries from big cities to small towns, and beer festivals have become an essential marketing tool for the people who run them.

Most of the brewers slated to attend the Sheridan Brewfest are based in Wyoming, but several regional breweries have also joined the event in recent years.

Whether you’re there for the beer or just to mix and mingle, the Chamber of Commerce hopes there will be plenty to keep people entertained. In addition to beer tastings, patrons will have the opportunity to vote for best overall brewery. A panel of judges will also present an award. Additionally, the festival will feature live music and a barbecue competition hosted by The Pony Grill and Bar.

Check the Sheridan County Chamber of Commerce website for details as the event date nears —