10th Annual State College
State College, PA
For the 9th year in a row, we
made the trip out to Happy Valley to attend and help out at the 10th Anniversary
of this renowned beer fest. We have attended all but the first year's event.
I still don't remember how we became fast friends with the producers, Greg
Somers and Michael Goldfine, but we did and have had a great time viewing
the fest from the working side of the table. It is even a hectic weekend
for us and we have only limited responsibilities. I can only imagine what
Greg goes through himself now that Michael has left the fold to be able
to enjoy the festival. But, Greg has more energy than any two people I
know, so I know he kind of thrives on the excitement.
Michael Goldfine made his first
appearance at the podium to discuss 6 beers that you must taste before
you die: Pilsener Urquell, Fuller's Porter, Hoegaarden, Paulaner Hefeweizen,
Ayinger Celebrator and Westmalle Tripel. I can't argue with a single one
of those! I don't know how he got it down to just 6!!
This festival is all about beer
education and the seminars are there to teach about the many facets that
are beer. This year, the main speaker was John Hansell, publisher and editor
of Malt Advocate magazine. Though mostly covering the world of whisky,
beer is also prominently featured in this periodical. John talked about
blending beers and used some of the best beers in the world to make his
point. He started out sampling 6 beers and then discussed blending. Several
of the beers were blends themselves or would lend themselves to being a
mixer: Hanssen's Gueuze, Schneider Aventinus, DFH's Red & White,
Goose Island's Brown Goose, Avery/Russian River's Collaboration Not Litigation,
Port Brewing's Veritas, and finishing with Unibroue's Quelque Chose. Lemon
juice was provided to mix with the Quelque Chose in order to demonstrate
it's blending ability. He urged everyone to try blending at home to enhance
the experience of beer drinking.
Also for the first time, The
Beer Geeks, Mark Dellinger and Jeff Metzler, took the crowd to The Strange
Brew Zone. The first beer they discussed was Kvass, a Russian Rye Bread
beer recently recreated by Scott Smith of East End Brewing with the able
assistance of Tom Baker, late of Heavyweight Brewing. Next up was a new
Grottenbier(cave beer) from the famous Pierre Celis. It is a Flemish Ale
made with spices. Lastly they offered up 2 takes on Berliner Weiss (personally
one of my favorite styles): DFH Festina Peche and Scarabaeus Getranke 1809.
As always, there was a Beer
101 seminar giving the basics to the beer newbies in the group. I conducted
2 of them and my friend, Nate did the other 2. They are a good time to
pass on my passion for beer.
The crowds were record-breaking
this year. The first session was close to selling out and the second one
sold out the last few tickets in the AM. But the crowds were well-behaved
and there was a minimum of problems other than long lines at the tables.
For sustenance, the buffet has
always been great. Slow-Roasted Ginger Soy Pork Loin with Mushroom Bordelaise,
Grilled Bratwurst with Caramelized Onions, Asiago Cheese Tortellini w/
Summer Vegetables and Pesto, Sweet Potato and Spinach Soup w/ Andouille
Sausage, Mediterranean Salad w/ Artichoke Hearts, Olives, Shaved Parmesan
Cheese & White Balsamic Vinaigrette, Chilled Sesame Lo Mein Salad,
Tex-Mex Coleslaw, Artisan-Baked Breads & Rolls w/ Assorted Cheeses,
Fresh Fruit & Sliced Fruit w/ Fruited Yogurt, Black Forest Brownies,
Penn State Cookies, Carrot Cake, Iced Tea and Coffee. If you leave there
hungry, shame on you!
Many of the usual suspects showed
up to pour their products: Unibroue, East End, Sly Fox, Weyerbacher, Victory,
Legacy, Dogfish Head, Troegs, Magic Hat, Stawski, Anchor, Southampton,
Erie, Otto's, Penn, High Falls, Stoudts, Abbey Wright as well as loads
of imports from local and national distributors. Mr & Mrs Jerky were
there once again and Zeno's and Full Force sold T-shirts. An added treat
this year was Don Cisso Cafe where they came and demonstrated the art of
rolling cigars!! They brought along lots of cigars to sell.
I hope that this fest keeps
on going for a long time, but it gets tougher every year to secure the
venue and get breweries to attend. Demands are made on so many fronts for
the time and beer of the brewers and they certainly can't attend every
festival. I hope all those who attend this fest will let the brewers know
how much you appreciate their attendance and support their products whenever
possible. For those local to State College, Zeno's, Otto's, The Deli, Champs,
all have great beers on tap and in bottle for your enjoyment.
Keep an eye on the website
for future events. Cheers!