This is another festival that
has grown up in a short time. When my friend, John Companick, told me several
years ago he was organizing a beer fest in Yardley, I thought to myself...Yardley?
A quiet bedroom community of affluent families? My former college roommate
and family live there and I was quite familiar with the area. The first
festival was small, but I was shocked to see the turnout of people totally
unfamiliar with good beer. I was impressed! We missed last year, but vowed
to attend this one.
In order to expand the lineup, they needed a change of venue and found a scenic lot right on the river! We met up with those friends of mine(who are wine people BTW), enjoyed some catching up and ate a fine lunch prepared by Rich. This was to be their first beer fest and I was hoping it would be a success. John did not disappoint! The large tent with adjacent parking proved to be just enough for the thirsty throngs. The lines entered smoothly and quickly with little delay. John's extensive experience with beer fests certainly shone through here! Inside, the tables were organized on the outside of the tent with a small inner rectangle also. Most of the names were familiar and anticipated: River Horse, Stoudt's, Sly Fox, Victory, Earth Bread + Brewery, Manayunk, Troeg's, Weyerbacher, Triumph, Dogfish Head, Boaks, Philly Brewing, and Clipper City represented the local breweries with names like Stone, Ithaca, Magic Hat, Rogue, Great Lakes, Sierra Nevada, Great Divide, Lagunitas, Allagash, Abita, Spaten and Harpoon treated the crowds to regional and national/international selections.
Rich and Diane dug right in and started finding their "fest legs". They would ask for direction to taste as much as they could, but found many favorites on their own. Some of them surprised me. Diane enjoyed Arrogant Bastard and Earth's Gruit. Her favorites for the day were Boak's Brewing selections: Double BW, 2 Monk's Ale and Abbey Brown. Brian made a great showing and is increasing his production to cover new markets.
The weather started out nice, but turned cloudy and even rained for a short time. The tent kept everything dry, however and most were oblivious of the precipitation.
It is always great to see old friends at these fests. Suzanne Woods of Sly Fox has been partially responsible for the meteoric growth of the brewery. Of course, Mr. O'Reilly and crew make some of the best beers in the region, but Suzie's bubbly personality and great enthusiasm gives face to the entity at these fests and events. Her love of beer and people carries her through the busy times and with around 24 events coming up during Philly Beer Week on June 4-13, she'll needs lots of love to survive it!
I got a chance to meet the last Chris from River Horse...Chris Rakow, whom I had never met before and we had a pleasant conversation. Nick from Troeg's was pouring Pils and Troegenator, Steve Lander has been the face of Earth B + B on the fest circuit and is a fellow investor as is Maris Kukainis who lends a hand when available. Even some of my Jersey buddies made it across the bridge: Doug Duschl and girlfriend, Jennifer, and his trusty sidekick, Jack Russell surprisingly appeared as we were arriving.
Food is another important item that is usually forgotten at festivals, but John brought in John and Nancy McDevitt of the High Street Grill to feed the hungry fans with some tasty cuisine at reasonable prices. If you ever get the chance to stop at HSG in Mt. Holly, do so. They carry a fantastic selection of craft beers and gourmet wines with an unbelievable menu of fine cuisine. Check their website for more info.
Needless to say, we had a fantastic afternoon and enjoyed the new and improved version of the Yardley Fest and look forward to next year already! Keep the website in your bookmarks and make sure you attend in 2011.