A record breaking crowd of about 315 craft beer tasters came out for the Art of the Brew at the Hamburg Field House on April 7.
A variety of craft beers from more than 30 breweries were represented at the Our Town Foundation’s 5th annual craft beer and wine tasting event that included regional favorites like Saucony Creek, Lancaster, Yuengling, Troegs, and Hamburg’s own 1787 Brewing Company, plus many others from across the state and beyond.
“This is the best year,” said Deena Kershner, Executive Director, Our Town Foundation in Hamburg. “We were worried in the beginning because ticket sales were going slow but just in the last 24 hours, we sold over 100 tickets.”
There was some panic at first in reaction to the record breaking attendance, as the OTF volunteers scrambled to get additional tasting glasses out of storage and get more food and sold tickets to the waiting crowd.
“I think it’s great that it’s growing. There’s a lot of competition out there,” said Kershner. “Everyone here think’s it’s great, they like the event. They’re thanking (OTF) for having the event. I know the brewers like to come here, they say this is one of the better events that they attend because Windsor Distributing does so much of the work for them and a big thank you to Windsor Distributing because without them this wouldn’t be possible.”
The OTF hosts the event with assistance from Windsor Distributing of Hamburg. Kershner also thanked the OTF volunteers.
“Thank all of the volunteers for assisting. It’s a volunteer-driven organization and without those volunteers nothing would be happening,” she said.
The event raises funds for Our Town Foundation, which is Hamburg’s non-profit community revitalization corporation.
“It’s a fundraiser for the Foundation that can turn around and do better things for downtown Hamburg and beyond,” said Kershner. “The next big event we have is Hamburg-er Fest so hope all these people come to Hamburg-er Fest.”
Hamburg Mayor George Holmes and his wife Charlotte Golden were excited to attend the Art of the Brew for their second year.
“The turnout this year is even better than last year,” said Holmes. “There are people here from Hamburg but more importantly there are people outside of Hamburg and it brings them in and shows them what Hamburg has to offer. And this is a great event to get people together, get them to talk. I’ve had some great conversations with people.”
Michael Tophoney from Ashland, Pa, and Tim Robbins from Frackville came out to the event two years ago and wanted to return to see how it evolved since then. Tophoney believes OTF is headed in the right direction and likes the addition of wine and distillery tastings.
“We’re having a good time. The beers are delicious,” said Robbins.
When asked their thoughts about Hamburg, Tophoney said, “I didn’t notice how nice Hamburg the actual town was until today. I took a little bit of a walk through and I never knew there were that many small shops. It was nice so I like that.”
Andrew Vogel of Kutztown came out to Art of the Brew with friends.
“This has become a tradition among a small group of friends of mine. We come every year and sample a few different beers and enjoy one another’s company,” said Vogel. “Tasting different beers is a real delight but it’s the time with friends” that Vogel enjoys most about the event.
“And how awesome is this building! It’s such an unusual structure and that’s part of the fun,” added Vogel.
Christopher Carvajal, Brian Dawkins and Ryan Roman from Reading came out to taste beer. They missed last year’s event because it was sold out, so this year they made sure to get their tickets early. The trio of friends said everything about the event is good.
“Good people here,” said Dawkins.
“Good vibes,” added Roman.
Linda Steely of Hamburg attended with her sister for a second year.
“I like seeing people that I haven’t seen in a long time and tasting good beers,” she said.
Steely tasted Yuengling’s newly released Golden Pilsner.
“It’s Yuengling and it’s from Pottsville and I was born in Pottsville,” said Steely about wanting to taste the new Yuengling beer. “It was a good beer.”
Larry Trakes, sales rep for Yuengling, poured tasting for attendees. He explained that the Golden Pilsner is the first new year-round beer that the company has released in 17 years. He described it as a European style pilsner made with all hops and malts with a nice gold color and flavor profile. The response from the public has been very good, he said.
“Honestly, I had many people here saying it was the best beer they had here at the beer festival so I’m happy to hear that. Even for the typical non-Yuengling drinker they said they liked it which is good for us,” said Trakes, who has been a vendor at the Art of the Brew since its first year. “Supporting local, it’s for a good cause.”
Hamburg’s own 1787 Brewing Company introduced their Black Bridge American Stout and Fern Sholly, an American IPA, which is a sample of the brews 1787 will be offering when the microbrewery opens on 4th Street in downtown Hamburg in May.
“Because we are the only brewery opening in Hamburg, for us to have an event that’s literally a block from where our establishment’s going to be is I think a pretty cool thing,” said Steve Macbeth, co-owner with brew master Jim Gerner. “It’s very significant for us to be here and participate and to allow people to try our product.”
Macbeth said the IPA is a reflective of Gerner.
“He’s a big IPA guy, that’s a signature beer for him and very popular and the Black Bridge American Stout also has been very popular today. It has a hint of chocolate and a real nice oaky flavor to it.”
The stout is named after a bridge they used hang out at when they were kids. The IPA is named after Fern Sholly, a 1940s-50s major league women’s baseball player who was from Hamburg.
“I’m hoping people (at the Art of the Brew) have a different idea about craft beers and the value that they bring to the industry and the different types of beers. I just hope it opens their minds up a little bit to all that is out there,” said Macbeth.