On Saturday afternoon, the corner lot of Third & Richardson street in Lansdale was turned into a beer lover's paradise, as The Lansdale Craft Beer Tasting Festival held their second annual event.
The parking lot was buzzing with excitement at noon when the VIP ticket holders were allowed into the event for a “Sneak Peak” and virtually no line access to the many wonderful brewers who attended the event.
The festival featured 70 brewers lined up under two huge tents. Both tents featured the big names in brewing, but half of one tent was devoted to some fantastic homebrews for the Keystone Homebrew Home Brew Contest. Inside the tents, the big brewers proudly displayed their wares in draft taps attached to coolers to make sure the beer was cold and fresh for the attendees.
The home brewers and brewsters (men = brewers, women = brewsters) had their homebrews labeled on cardboard boxes and pitchers to dispense their DIY beer. Nate Deboer from Iron Cross Brewery in Lansdale brought his “Das Blonde Bier von Gina” Cream Ale for the contest.
“It's nice that people can come out and enjoy good beer that is independently produced locally,” he said.
Tables were topped with deli trays, fruit trays, bruschetta and a few other light fare, and a whole pig roast provided by Blue Dog Tavern. Bottled water was placed outside the tents so attendees would have beverages to drink other than beer.
Tables were set up in between the two tents to provide a nice place to sit and enjoy friends, beer and conversation. Vendors were lined up along the edge of the lot and bands were placed central to the sitting area.
The VIP tickets were an additional $35, but were worth it according to Nate D'Donato of Harleysville,
“I have been to many beer festivals and if you get a chance to get in early... DO IT. The extra money is well worth the ability to get what you want with fewer lines,” he said.
The VIP session was only an hour, but those ticket holders were having a good time as the general admission attendees began to form a line behind the entrance. Lines stretched from the lot around the corner onto Second Street. The line moved swiftly as ticket holders were broken down into five different lines according to last names.
Attendees waited just inside the festival grounds. It would soon be time to pass through the line where they would be given a 5 oz cup and freedom to sample to their hearts’ content.
At 1:15 p.m., those ticket holders got their chance. The scene played out like those Black Friday store openings you see on YouTube, only very controlled and very happy.
Smiles and laughter filled the Festival grounds, and they kept coming. For about one hour there was a steady stream of new smiling faces. Cell phones were being used and the most common thing overheard was, “I am here.... Where are you?”
Friends connected with friends and before long, both tents were filled with happy beer lovers getting samples of the different brews. Inside the tents, people lined up to try the interesting sounding brews.
Lindsey Mele, of Souderton, tried the Lagunitas IPA.
“This is very good, I love IPAs. I would definitely get a case,” she said.
The atmosphere under the tents tents was electric; the sound of people talking was deafening at times and occasionally broken up by furious laughter. People were also joking asking, “Where is the Miller Lite table?”
It was asked often enough and was getting more laughs as the day went on.
One brewer who was showcasing their beer was Round Guys Brewery. Round Guys Brewery will be moving to Lansdale and opening a brewery and taproom at 324 West Main Street this fall behind the Philadelphia Pretzel Factory.
When asked why the brewery is moving to Lansdale, Head Master Rich DiLiberto said, “The people.... the mix of people is great here. You have the train station to bring people in, the foot traffic, it’s great. When we saw it, it seemed like a perfect fit.”
Beer was the main focus, but not the only focus for the festival. The festival also supports local charities. Drew Stockmal, one of the festival’s founders said, “The primary focus has been the Lansdale Public Library, but this year we added Manna on Main Street, The Semper Fi Fund, which helps injured veterans and their families.”
Project Safe Playground, based in Souderton, was represented at the festival. Tina Davidock and Stephanie Haas were there to let people know about this special project for the community.
“We are in the process of fundraising. We are going to fix the park at Chestnut and Wild Streets in Souderton as a memorial to Skyler Kauffman,” Davidock said. “We hope to have fundraising completed by January and the park to be open next summer.”
Chris Bergey, of Indian Valley AMBUCS, was on hand as well spreading the word. Indian Valley AMBUCS is helping with the fundraising part of the project.
“We are currently holding raffles and selling memorial bricks, which will be a part of the park when it is finished,” Bergey said.
For more information on this project, please email Projectsafeplayground@gmail.com.
The Semper Fi Fund was not the only way the Lansdale Craft Beer Tasting Festival honored our veterans. Any veteran was welcomed into the festival for free and was given a special camouflaged T-shirt.
Evan McDonough, James Litnowicz and Dave Pierson, all Marines, took the festival up on their offer. The three sat at a table in the middle of the fest drinking beer and smoking a few cigars.
When asked why those chose to make it out to the festival, McDonough replied, “I always love free beer,” which brought laughs from all three gentlemen.
“I saw it on Patch and thought it would be a really fun time.” Litnowicz said.
“It is really nice to come out and support these community events where everyone can come out and have a good time,” Pierson said.
The community really came out for the festival. The most common response to “Why did you come here?” was “Friends, beer and having a good time.” When asked, “Where are you from?” most people responded by pointing in the direction of their house. The festival had the feel of an extended block party.
As the festival continued attendees started to pick some of their favorites.
Brian Leslie, of Lansdale, said his favorite was “Prism's 20 IPA, very nice for a hot day.”
Rosalynd Orr of Quantum Quark Brewery in Horsham said,” I really liked the Root Beer Amber Ale. I wish I had something of mine in the contest. There is always next year!”
The Root Beer ale was the much talked about home brew. It was brewed by Tom Lambeth of Lambeth's Home Brewery.
“It's called the American Amber Root Beer,” Lambeth said.
He added root beer extract to make the special brew. The ale was sweet and had a pleasant root beer taste.
Nate of Iron Hill Brewery proudly proclaimed that his “Das Blonde Bier von Gina” Cream Ale was the first to be gone. He was very excited about the way people responded to his brew.
“It's awesome to get the direct feedback,” he said.
For Melissa and Chris Hamm, of Collegeville, the feedback was the main reason they entered their “ES Beagle” in the contest.
“Our friends all love it. We'd love to get feedback from different people,” said Melissa.
The votes were counted for the winner of the Keystone Homebrew Contest. The top finishers were:
- Adam Mort – American Amber Ale
- Thomas Lambeth – American Amber Root Beer
- Wardle Massey – Dark Belgian Strong
Jason Harris of Keystone Homebrew inferred that Adam Mort had the home field advantage because “he brought a lot of people with him.”
Mort is an employee and locksmith at Wilson's Hardware, on the other side of the parking lot from the festival.
As the festival wore down, the drinking caught up with a few people and some were staggering around. The biggest troubles were a few loud cheers when kegs were kicked. The crowd was very calm and everyone seemed to be having a good time.
A man identified as only “Bob” wanted me to know exactly how much fun he had.
“I believe we have something good here. We can't mess this up. This is a great location, great idea for young and old to get together and have fun. The extra measure of having music, food and good causes makes it more about the people and the community than the beer. Way to go Lansdale.”
I caught up with Stockmal after the official end of the festival and asked him about the future of the festival.
“I hope we can grow and, eventually add more days. It would be nice to make that a reality. If you bring great beer and great weather, people will come,” he said. “It started with an idea of a group of five of us. Today, we more than doubled the turnout from last year. It would be great to bring in 5,000 people some day.”
For more info on the Lansdale Craft Beer Tasting Festival visit Lansdalebeerfest.com