Sunshine, music, philanthropy highlight Bonifest 2019

By on June 12, 2019

Special, one-off firkins provided fans with twists on their St. Boniface favorites during Bonifest. This adventurous fest attendee is about to enjoy some Libation DIPA, made with dried hot d’arbol chiles and fresh lime.


Another year and another Bonifest is in the books. The area’s coolest brewery festival saw sunny skies and happy crowds Saturday, June 8 as beer fans gathered to enjoy great music, raise donations for the local food bank, and taste creative expressions of their favorite St. Boniface Craft Brewery beers.

Early birds (11ish a.m.) like me and Hop’in Around fan Bonnie Martin got the pick of the tables underneath the tent with great seats to enjoy music from The Vivien Leigh Documentary, Colebrook Road, STOOPS, and Sun Not Yellow. A minute on the music before we get to the beer. Colebrook Road, whose new album, “On Time,” debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard Bluegrass chart on the week of May 18, is always a treat for the ears. Their Americana sound is tight, toe-tapping, and downright terrific. I was blown away by The VLD’s — Hadassah Wilson’s voice is soulful, vibrant, and attention-grabbing; hearing her sing stopped people in mid conversation drawing their attention to the five-piece, Lancaster-based band inspired by jazz, soul, and blues. Once again Bonifest served as a conduit for new sounds, exposing guests to talent they might not normally come across.

As for beer, the highlight of the day for me was getting a sneak peek at Birrativo. This kettle-soured session ale is brewed in collaboration with Lancaster’s LUCA restaurant and incorporates Meyer Lemon and Bay Leaf to create a refreshing and downright stupendous beer. It is unlike anything I’ve tasted from St. Boniface and a testament to the attention to quality the brewery maintains. Birrativo sits at an easy 3.6 percent ABV making it a perfect beer for warm weather and relaxing outside. The beer was on tap during the fest, but I don’t think it’s staying. Catch it on tap soon at LUCA.

Hadassah Wilson (right) of The Vivien Leigh Documentary entertains and impresses early festgoers at Bonifest 2019.

Bonifest always has fun, special, one-off firkins for fans. The day started calmly with a tapping of the Bourbon Barrel Hegemony Anniver8ary Reserve, but by 2:30 people were lining up en masse to get a taste of Boniface’s 3LB IPA infused with rainbow nerds and sour patch kids. A newly popular brew at Boniface is Orange Pollinator, a Hefeweizen brewed with orange puree, orange blossom honey, and lactose. A special version of Pollinator was tapped in the afternoon featuring oak, fresh pineapple, and orange peel. Rounding out the special taps were a Libation DIPA with dried d’arbol chiles (hot!) and fresh lime; a Kettle Sour with fresh Meyer lemon and ginger; and Paideia Pale Ale with mint, vanilla, and additional Citra hops.

Bonifest is always held near June 5, which is the St. Boniface’s feast day celebrated by the Roman Catholic, Lutheran, the Anglican Communion, and Eastern Orthodox churches, so it is the perfect time to hold a food drive for the Ephrata Area Social Services food bank. Each non-perishable item donated by festgoers equaled a raffle ticket for prizes from Bonifest partners and local businesses. In 2018, Bonifest brought in almost 800 pounds of food and almost $350 for EARS.

Oh, and speaking of Ephrata and beer… did you hear the Ephrata Brewfest is sold out? Congrats to those folks. Cheers and thanks for reading!

Michael C. Upton is a freelance writer specializing in arts and leisure. He welcomes comments at and

Hungry fest-ers, including St. Boniface head brewer Jon Northup (right, red shirt), line up to order from the Crave food truck.

Longtime St. Boniface regular Jeff “Chud” Faulds proudly displays his Bonifest ticket.

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