COLUMN WRITTEN BY MATT BRASCH
For Digital First Media
The Pottstown Brewfest is back for its sophomore year of beer tasting and fun in Manatawny Park, Pottstown on Oct. 22. Following up on its success last year — and the well-regarded Pottstown Firkin Fest in April 2016 — Pottstown Brew Fest founder Tim Hennessey is excited for this year’s event.
Hennessey, a local resident, reports that last year about 1200 people attended the inaugural Pottstown Brew Fest. Fifty-three breweries served over 100 beers; and while Hennessey enjoyed all of the beer offerings, 2 that really left an impression on him were Phoenixville-based Armstrong Ales “Old Tosser ESB” and Douglassville-based Hidden River Brewing Company “The Owls are not what they seem” double IPA. According to Hennessey, “The responses to last year’s festival were overwhelmingly positive,” so he knew that they had to plan another for this year.
As of the writing of this article, Hennessey confirmed that 65 breweries will be serving over 150 brews at the festival on Oct. 22, which will include mead, wine, cider and sprits. Hennessey explained that there will be some changes this year, including “A revamped VIP hour with 16 brewers offering new beers and hard-to-find releases. We will be serving wine, mead and spirits for the first time. We will also be offering beer and wine workshops in the Brew U tent. And we have expanded our apparel line to include long-sleeve shirts and sweatshirts.”
Hennessey is excited for the brewers and beers that will be served this year, “We have a really great list this year, including a Hidden River / Armstrong collaboration called “Hazelnut Coffee Breakfast Stout,” Clown Shoes Brewing “Chocolate Sombrero,” Stone Brewing “Unfiltered Ruination” and “Enjoy By Tangerine IPA,” Southern Tier “Cold Pressed Coffee Pumking,” and Evil Genius Brewing “Adulting.” In addition, there will be several barrel aged beers and 2 casks made specifically for the Pottstown Brew Fest — Baltimore-based Heavy Seas Brewing is bringing its “Peg Leg” imperial stout aged on pecan wood, dried cherries and vanilla bean, and Conshohocken Brewing Company will serve its “Puddlers Row ESB” on cinnamon.
Those specialty beers will probably not last long, so Hennessey recommends purchasing a VIP ticket ($75). The VIP session begins at noon and includes 16 different breweries who will be offering new releases, rare beers and one-offs. In addition, VIP ticket holders will receive a full-size pint tasting glass, unlimited sampling, and a $10 voucher for festival apparel. There are only 300 VIP tickets available, so go online and purchase them soon. Check www.pottstownbrewfest.com. The general admission ($55) session begins at 1 p.m., and the festival ends for everyone at 4:30 p.m.
Hennessey reminds attendees that you should not drink on an empty stomach. In addition to the fantastic line up of brews, “Food is available for purchase from 7 great food vendors. Lily’s Grill, Heart Food Truck, The Sunflower Truck Stop, Beverly’s Pastry Shop, Your Mom’s Place, Grumpy’s Handcarved Sandwiches and The Cow and the Curd Food Truck” will all be there to round out your festival experience, along with live music, games, and local artisans. Hennessey is proud that The Pottstown Brew Fest was named the Best Outdoor Event in Montgomery County by Montco Happening in 2015 and says “We are going for a repeat award this year!”
Proceeds from the Brew Fest will go to The Pottstown Police Athletic League this year. Hennessey explained that “In early May, we were in the process of selecting a new charity partner to work with. Jamie Ottaviano, the President of the PAL Board at the time, approached us. PAL fits with the Brew Fest’s mission of making a positive impact in our community by providing kids in K through 6th grade with structure and support networks through various sporting activities.”
Hennessey suggests a few things for ensuring that you have the maximum fun at the festival: “Plan ahead for transportation. It is important to have a plan for how to get safely home from the fest. Please arrange a designated driver, take Uber (now operating in Pottstown), or take public transportation, if possible. If you decide to drive, know that parking is extremely limited at Manatawny Park; please park your car at the Coventry Mall (by CVS and Rita’s Water Ice). We will be providing free shuttles from the mall to the park. Stay hydrated! Yes, beer is refreshing, but you need to make sure you’re getting enough water too. Drinking water will be available for free. Bring cash for food and souvenirs, there is no ATM at the park. Finally, have a tasting plan; breweries bring a set amount of beer, so some styles may run out and not be available for the entirety of the festival.”
Find more details on the Pottstown Brew Fest Facebook page and website: www.pottstownbrewfest.com.
Columnist Matt Brasch is a beer enthusiast and a lifelong Montgomery County resident. For more, go to http://thebrewholder.com and follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at “The Brewholder.”