Rails & Ales

By on April 5, 2017
Beer critic Michael Upton called the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania “one of the best settings for a brewfest ever.” This quartet of beer lovers seems to agree.

Beer critic Michael Upton called the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania “one of the best settings for a brewfest ever.” This quartet of beer lovers seems to agree.

If you’ve read this column religiously (thank you!) you may remember coverage of last year’s inaugural Rails & Ales at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, probably one of the best settings for a brewfest ever.

Well, it’s back …and the VIP round is already sold out. Regular admittance is still open, but last year’s event did sell out beforehand.

I got the scoop on the event’s new breweries for 2017 and what some of our local beer makers will be offering for enthusiasts this Saturday evening.

“The basic concept of the event is the same this year, but we do have some new brewers, different bands, and we’ve expanded our food truck lineup,” said Elizabeth Myers, volunteer/program coordinator at the museum.

Food trucks were an issue last year, as long lines formed quickly and eateries ran out of offerings. Organizers aimed for variety with food trucks this year bringing in Uncle Paul’s Stuffed Pretzels, Lancaster Burger Company, Mad Sandwiches, and Sven’s Cafe to supplement Strasburg’s Speckled Hen, Rocky’s BBQ, and Mara-Leo’s (Italian).

“We learned people love to eat when they are at a beer festival,” said Myers.

Speaking of beer, St. Boniface has their hands full with other projects (but they will be bringing their ESB, Maibock, and Paideia to Rails & Ales), so Mad Chef Craft Brewing has stepped in to create this year’s fest-inspired, special brew. The East Pete brewery created the Roggen Express beer, a Bavarian style brewed with rye malt and hefeweizen yeast. It claims to have hints of banana, clove, and citrus, with a light spice.

“We are excited to try the beer; just like everyone else we haven’t been able to preview it either,” said Myers. “It’ll be new to us on the 8th, too.”

New breweries this year are Cave Brewing Company (Bethlehem), Columbia Kettle Works, Lancaster County Cider, Molly Pitcher Brewing Company (Carlisle), Shy Bear Brewing Company (Lewistown), Spring Gate Brewery (Harrisburg), Swashbuckler, and Wacker. The rest of line-up features Cox Brewing Company, Howling Henry’s Brewery, Lancaster Homebrew, Raven Beer, Snitz Creek Brewery, Stoudt’s Brewing Company, Swashbuckler Brewing Company, The Brewery At Hershey, Twin Lakes Brewing Company, and (one of my favorites) Moo-Duck Brewery.

Designated drivers ($15) will receive event glassware they can fill with a selection of premium draft sodas from Reading Soda Works, and cookies from Isaac’s Restaurants. As the event’s food partner, Isaac’s also pairs sampler bites with select beers — called the Choo Choo Brew Review — during the VIP hour. Newcomer Columbia Kettle Works is providing Isaac’s with a Strong German Lager for the review; they’ll also pour their Helles, IPA, and a Brett Saison during general admission. Moo-Duck gets in on the food pairing action with their Sticky Nuts maple pecan brown ale. Brewer/co-owner Mike Brubaker confirmed his honey chamomile wheat ale (The Remedy) will be available for all, but his second beer is in debate between the Great 38 Pale Ale or Beer For A Friend #4 (if it is ready).

The event features live music, vendors, and beer uniquely surrounded by massive locomotives and train cars in the museum’s Rolling Stock Hall. General Admission starts at 7:30 p.m. and more info can be found at railsandales.org.

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.

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