Ephrata Brewfest gets fruity

By on June 28, 2017

The crowd begins to form at Ephrata’s Brewfest. (Photos by Missi Mortimer)

The time was 10 before one in the afternoon. Calls for morning showers went unsubstantiated and the sun was bright in the blue sky.

A handful of beer enthusiasts beat the rush and milled about Whistle Stop Plaza Saturday, June 24, before the opening of the second annual Ephrata Brewfest.

At 1 p.m., brewers got the “go ahead” and opened the taps for masses; St. Boniface Craft Brewing Company, the first of 16 beer pouring stations staggered throughout the open space, had a line six drinkers deep.

Pretzel necklaces were useful for cleansing the palate between tastings.

By 1:15, the majority of ticket holders had made their way into the event and the sounds of Mark DeRose and the Dreadnought Brigade filled the air. The event, which raises funds for the Ephrata Public Library, Ephrata Rec Center, and Downtown Ephrata Inc., was an immediate success.

And after only a few stops I realized there was a common theme running across the offerings. Things were getting fruity!

Mad Chef Brewing Co.’s Tropical Parfait IPA was a refreshing hit. (Photos by Michael Upton)

It started when I bumped into Francisco Ramirez of Mad Chef Brewing Company. A couple weeks ago he told me about a milkshake IPA he was brewing as a collaboration with Derek Wolf of Wolf Brewing Company (which will be coming to the Susquehanna Valley in 2019). It just so happens Ramirez brought the Tropical Parfait IPA to Ephrata on Saturday. This sweet, fruit-forward brew is created with loads of lactose and oats and hopped with Mosaic and Cintra hops. Flavorful fruit notes come from the addition of guava and mango puree during fermentation, while the addition of Madagascar vanilla at the end rounds out a brew that is surprisingly light and finishes dry. Mad Chef also offered their Frican Saison, Rom Baro Helles, and Oh Face DIPA.

Columbia Kettle Works kept it tropical with their Coconut Porter and Tropical Luau, dry hopped with Amarillo and Lemondrop hops, and finished with pineapple. For the traditionalists, Columbia brought their Vienna Lager and Munich Helles.

West Reading’s Chatty Monks Brewing Company brought a special brew created as a celebratory gesture for a recent wedding. Sasion van Liefde (Saison of Love) is a light and refreshing brew tinged red by a massive heaping of hibiscus flower.

Mark DeRose and The Dreadnaught Brigade.

One of my favorite new breweries is Boneshire Brew Works. For the fest, the Harrisburg-based brewer brought their Tried and True Belgian white ale; Testify, a pale wheat ale; and Devils Burden, a rye IPA hopped with the big three: Cascade, Citra, and Mosaic.

Lancaster Homebrew got in on the action by mixing up a batch of east coast IPA and a black lager. They also brought some wine, a refreshing pineapple pear Pinot Grigio.

Much to my delight, Renewal Kombucha of Lititz was back at the Brewfest with their “craft-brewed” teas fermented with live probiotic cultures. I immediately went for a sample of the Fruit N Flower, a blend of blueberries and flowers with a touch of cinnamon. The cinnamon was not overpowering and gave the drink a tiny hint of spice resembling a saison. Kombucha is the beer drinker’s tea!

Longtime Bonifans Bonnie (left) and Donnie Martin made a repeat visit to the Ephrata Brewfest for year two.

With the 2017 brewfest in the books, organizers have already named a date for 2018. Stay tuned for the third installment of the Ephrata Brewfest on Saturday, June 23, 2018.

Cheers and thanks for reading!

Michael C. Upton is a freelance writer specializing in arts and leisure. He welcomes comments at somepromcu@gmail.com and facebook.com/SomebodiesProductions.

A little pregaming! Adam Bollinger and Ross Harter of Black Forest True Tavern Ales prep for crowds before the brewfest.

Mad Chef Brewing Co.’s Francisco Ramirez (behind the tap) talks beers with festgoers.

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