Ephrata Brewfest Success!

By on June 29, 2016
Vince DePaul serves up Lancaster Brewing Company’s popular seasonal “Blue Trail Lemon Blueberry SHandy." Photo by Patrick Burns

Vince DePaul serves up Lancaster Brewing Company’s popular seasonal “Blue Trail Lemon Blueberry SHandy.” Photo by Patrick Burns

“Really good beer, really good people, and really good weather.”

That’s how Ephrata resident Ron Malkin summed up the inaugural Ephrata Brewfest last Saturday.

The event, which was three years in the making, amazed even veterans of craft beer festivals such as Robert Harter, owner of Black Forest Brewery.

“They did a great job planning it; they had all of the facilities in place,” Harter said.

Many vendors, guests, and organizing officials, had expressed reservations that the Whistle Stop Plaza might be a little too cozy for the sold-out event that ticketed 500 beer lovers.

“I didn’t know what to expect honestly I was a little concerned about the space,” he said. “But from a brewer’s stand point, we had plenty of ice available, the lines were just right for the people attending, and they laid it out just perfectly.”

The orderly crowd rolled evenly into the two main entrance ways which opened at 12:30 for the official 1 p.m. opening.

Only one vendor ran out of beer just before the 4 p.m. close, much to the delight of organizers from the joint venture between Downtown Ephrata Inc, Ephrata Recreation Center, and Ephrata Public Library.

“A great way to kick off the summer season,” said Andrea Glass, executive director at Ephrata Area Chamber of Commerce, who praised the work of the organizers and sponsors.

Like many attendees, Malkin couldn’t decide on which beer he liked best, though “Lancaster Brewery and Wacker are my favorite.”

“We had just enough,” said Vince DePaul who served up Lancaster Brewing Company’s popular seasonal “Blue Trail Lemon Blueberry Shandy.”

“It doesn’t always work out that way,” he said while pouring suds on the cloudless, sunny afternoon where temperatures settled in the mid-80s.

“There’s a decent breeze,” said Bob Honeybone, who attended with his wife Kristen. “But you have to find shade from time to time as you move around.”

Harter said it should be an easy task to sign on 10 more breweries for a second Brewfest, which organizers agreed would definitely happen in 2017.

“Honestly, we might grow out of this location by next year,” he said.

Ephrata Brewfest organizer on hand working the event Saturday included Erin Treese, George DiIlio, Jim Summers, Susan Rowe, Penny Talbert, Joy Ashley, and more.

The highlighted local breweries included St. Boniface and Black Forest from Ephrata; Union Barrel Works, Stoudt’s Brewing Company Lancaster Brewing Company.

Moo-Duck Brewery in Elizabethtown brought its seasonal Big Sit Summer Ale and their Mosaic-hopped, flagship pale ale called The Great 38 — a beer with a lot of citrusy hops. Wacker Brewing Company, Cox Brewing Company, and Mad Chef Craft Brewing rounded out the list of local breweries.

“We wanted to keep it local because we felt it was important to highlight what Lancaster County has to offer when it comes to craft beers,” said Treese.

Organizers did expand out of the county slightly, including York County’s Howling Henry, Snitz Creek Brewery from Lebanon County, and Battlefield Brew Works of Gettysburg. Howling Henry sampled its Maibock and IPA, and most unique pale ale, which incorporates basil and onion.

“Tastes like drinking a pizza,” said one beer aficionado.

Back to the more seasonal and traditional summer brews, Battlefield offered its Red Circle Ale with strawberries and Mandarina pale ale made with orange peel.

Mark DeRose, entertained with his bluesy acoustic trio version of his Dreadnought Brigade after local musician Danny Frederick opened up the festivities.

Dozens of people seeking tickets were turned away at the gate Saturday. Many people interviewed Saturday suggested moving the event to a venue where the music – which was separated from the beer vendors at the front of the plaza Saturday — can be more centralized.

“I think a better spot would be over at the park where they do the ‘Concerts at the Creek’ on Tuesdays during the summer,” Harter said.

In the end however, the Whistle Stop location was perfect for the first year.

“I am super pleased with the way our first Ephrata Brewfest is going,” said Joy Ashley, fundraising specialist at Ephrata Library.

“We did not know what to expect with it being our first one,” Ashley said. “A lot of planning and a lot of effort went into it and it is turning out way better than we ever dreamed. We’ve heard great positive feedback, great compliments, everybody seems to be having a really good time.”

Mayor Ralph Mowen express a sense of joy, satisfaction and relief as the event wound down Saturday, “after trying for three years to put together, it finally fell in place.”

“I could be happier to how it’s turned out,” Mowen said. “All 500 tickets were sold. In talking to people moving around, everybody seems pleased. We’ll have a critique when we’re all over and done in the next day or so to see if there’s anything we want to change or shift a little bit.”

The three year process in developing the event included concerns and discussions about crowd behavior. But Ephrata Police reported zero calls or incidents related to the Brewfest.

Police Chief William Harvey gave credit to the three fire policeman who were spread out at the plaza and who performed traffic duty in helping pedestrians cross back and forth across Main Street.

“Big tip of the hat to our fire-police who were working,” He said. “From my viewpoint as the emergency manager who worked with the planning of the event, all parties worked very diligently towards safety, security, and in doing so assured a great event for attendees. Already, there are plans for improving next years’ experience.”

Patrick Burns is social media editor and a staff writer for The Ephrata Review. He welcomes your questions and comments and can be reached at pburns.eph@lnpnews.com or at 721-4455.

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