Let the festivals begin!

By on April 20, 2016

Rails & Ales puts the season on the right track

Over the weekend, I attended the inaugural Rails & Ales brewfest at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, and by far, the museum is one of the best locations to have a festival. The beauty of the event is the venue. Twenty breweries were spread out among monster, historical locomotives, which gave the event an advantage.

Beer fans wandered around the trains, reading about their history while drinking samples. This created a more relaxed atmosphere and kept lines to an almost nonexistent minimum.

There was one brewer who grew a larger crowd than the others — Robin Hood Brewing Company from Bellefonte (just north of State College). Head Brewer Chris Schell brought his A-game to the event by tapping beers on a nitro system and furnishing a tasting room rinse station for sample glasses. Schell let me take a look under the table to show off the design, which was comprised of a beer keg of pressurized H2O. It wasn’t just the fancy setup keeping people hanging around this table; the beer was great, too.

Robin Hood brought Nuttingham, a peanut butter porter brewed with de-bittered chocolate malt; Blueboary, a light wheat ale stocked with blueberry flavor; and Bulls IPA. Get it? Think arrows.

As I mentioned in the last installment of Hop’in Around, I was excited to try St. Boniface’s contribution to the event, Orange Blossom Special. I like all things white/weisse/wheat, so this slightly sweet, summer-perfect brew was right up my alley. During the VIP hour, the folks from Isaac’s restaurants paired the beer with dark chocolate orange creams from Meisse Candies and chunks of orange creamsicles — we were encouraged to drop these right into our beer. Fun stuff! Event organizer Jeff Bliemeister and St. Boniface co-owner Dain Shirey confirmed the event’s signature beer, Orange Blossom Special, will now be available for a limited time at Pizza City and the Fireside Tavern in Strasburg.

 

Hop hop, hooray! The beer festival season is underway. Our Hop’in Around columnist kicked things off with Rails & Ales in Strasburg, and the fun will continue through September when the Lititz Craft Beer Fest (pictured above) returns. Cheers! (Photo by Mike Shull)

Hop hop, hooray! The beer festival season is underway. Our Hop’in Around columnist kicked things off with Rails & Ales in Strasburg, and the fun will continue through September when the Lititz Craft Beer Fest (pictured above) returns. Cheers! (Photo by Mike Shull)

Suds-sational upcoming events

So, beer festival season has officially begun! In Philadelphia, Spring Fest Live! features unlimited sampling of more than 150 beers from over 75 breweries. The music and beer combo event takes place Saturday, April 23, from 3 to 7 p.m.

The last week in April is Harrisburg Beer Week. The week-long celebration is capped on Saturday, April 30, by the Little Big Beer Fest. The event is at Appalachian Brewing Company’s Abbey Bar and features high ABV brews, with some great collaborations. For example, Molly Pitcher Brewing of Carlisle is collaborating with Sons of Alchemy (a central PA homebrewing club).

Closer to home, Stoudt’s has events year round. Next up is their IPA Brewfest. All the hop heads can get their IBU fix from breweries like Golden Avalanche, Crooked Eye, and Saucony Creek in April. Of course, the two biggest beer events in Lancaster are back on the calendar for later this year. Lancaster Craft Beerfest is scheduled for Aug. 27, and the Lititz Craft Beer Fest is Sept. 25. And if you haven’t heard, the Ephrata Beer Fest is back in the works. Aiming to highlight Lancaster County brews, the event is scheduled for June 25. So, mark your calendars. Cheers!

Michael C. Upton is a freelance writer specializing in arts and leisure. His Hop’in Around column appears biweekly in the Record Express. He welcomes comments at somepromcu@gmail.com and facebook.com/SomebodiesProductions.

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