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The best of the Fests
Probably the grandest brew fest of all time rolled through our area last weekend. In order to mark their East Coast expansion by adding a brewery in Asheville, N.C., California-based Sierra Nevada Brewing Company created Beer Camp Across America, a nationwide tour of beer festivals in six different states. I was lucky enough to be invited to attend the camp in Philly, which was the last stop before the brewery made its final destination.
Festival season is in full swing!
It seems that almost every weekend is a festival weekend at the Stoudt’s compound. Next up on Aug. 23 is the Luau Brew Fest. Admission buys beer samples from dozens of breweries and a seat for the Hawaiian Feast, featuring a pig roast, pineapple-Sriracha chicken, island-style bratwurst, Spam macaroni salad, and more. Entertain yourself and others by entering the best grass skirt and coconut bra competition (male and female categories).
Brett Kintzer, head brewer at Stoudt’s, admitted he would be setting up a table with “special” brews — alongside their table of standard contributions — and he offered a teaser of what he might provide. He couldn’t confirm the “special” beers, but is considering releasing a new saison and/or pulling a reserve sixtel of 5025, a wine barrel aged Belgian Quadrupel created to mark the 50th anniversary of Stoudt’s Black Angus Restaurant and the 25th anniversary of the brewery.
If you’re looking for something a bit more historical, Gettysburg Brew Fest takes place on the same day. Thirty-five breweries will line seminary ridge and pour for three and a half hours. Local participants include Spring House Brewing Company, Appalachian Brewing Company, and even Stoudt’s. Some less than local breweries represented include Great Lakes Brewing Company (Cleveland, Ohio), Red Hook Brewery (Portsmouth, N.H.), and Spoetzl Brewery (Texas), makers of Shiner Bock. The event begins with a cannonade and will end with a presentation of “Taps.”
On Sept. 6, Lancaster Craft Beer Fest is back for a second go-round; this year’s theme is More Beer, More Space, More Fun. Last year, the festival located in the Binn’s Park area of North Queen Street brought in 34 breweries who tapped 76 different beers. Organizers promise more this year.
Lancaster Liederkranz gets an early jump on Oktoberfest by celebrating on the weekend of Sept. 12. Lancaster’s oldest Oktoberfest party features traditional German beer, food, and entertainment. Not a beer fest as they’ve come to be known, a nominal fee gains admittance to the Lancaster Liederkranz grounds at 722 S. Chiques Road, Manheim, and beer is purchased individually. However, not to be left behind in the ever-growing scene of beer fests, the organization now presents Smokin’ Blues and Brews Fest, this year on Sept 20. The third annual event will feature local brews from St. Boniface and Columbia Kettle Works and imports like Warsteiner, Spaten, and Hofbrau.
The next weekend, Sunday, Sept. 28, will mark the inaugural Lititz Craft Beer Fest. On tap will be all the regional and local names a craft beer drinker would expect, but organizers have attracted some heavy hitters in the craft beer world. Lagunitas Brewing, 21st Amendment Brewery, and Stone Brewing Company will make their way from California to join more than 30 craft breweries to fill Main Street.
So, as the summer cools down the festival circuit heats up — especially around here!
Michael C. Upton works as a freelance writer specializing in arts and leisure covering subjects ranging from funk punk to fine wine. He invites your comments and suggestions at 354-0609.