Ephrata Brewfest: good libations

By on June 29, 2016

The sun was shining Saturday, June 25, and the beer was flowing from 12 breweries as the first Ephrata Brewfest went off with success. Organizers promised the event’s return for 2017, and plan to make it bigger and better-stretching the brewery inclusion to the entire state of PA.

The sold out event featured some local favorites and some unique brews. The most distinctive brew goes to Howling Henry’s Brewery. Sticking to their mantra of “crafting beer without rules,” the Hummelstown brewer brought a new creation, BOPA-Basil Onion Pale Ale. Described by one festgoer as drinking a slice of pizza, the creamy ale starts with a basil kick and finishes with a lingering onion taste reminiscent of sour cream and onion potato chips. By far, the brew was the most unique beer at the inaugural event and drinkers were curious to get each other’s opinion on the zany concoction. Overall, tasters approved of the beer, but doubted if they could drink more than one at a sitting.

Howling Henry’s also brought their Howling Oats India Pale Ale, which is maltier than most IPAs. The homage to rock duo Hall and Oates opens with a strong sweetness then transforms into a bitter citrus finish. Away from the fest, these beers are only available for sale in Dauphin County, but representatives said the brewery will even deliver cases within a reasonable distance.


The inaugural Ephrata Brewfest was held June 25. Each attendee got to take home a keepsake mug.

The inaugural Ephrata Brewfest was held June 25. Each attendee got to take home a keepsake mug.


Runner up for most creative beer came from Snitz Creek Brewery from Lebanon. The brewers brought their Seltzer’s Smokehaus #7 rauchbier, which incorporates actual smoke from the hardwood-fired smokehouses of Seltzer’s Smoked Meats. The beer has a meaty taste, accentuated by a malty presence. Snitz Creek also brought their namesake driven Apple-Weise Wheat, which is creamy with hints of honey and apple. It’s not a fruity beer by any means.

The best setup by a brewery has to go to Mad Chef Craft Brewing, who employed Serenity Mobile Beverage Concepts of Willow Street to help pour their samples. The four-tap Serenity cart kept It Takes Brew to Mango ale and F18 IPA cold for thirsty visitors. The F18 IPA is the East Petersburg brewery’s flagship beer for hop heads; it pours a thick and aromatic head and delivers all the citrusy flavor an IPA fan could want without being overly bold or aggressively bitter.

The folks at Moo-Duck Brewery — besides pouring The Great 38 Pale Ale and Honey! Strawberry Blonde all day — cracked the tops on two growlers at 2 and 3 p.m., unveiling their newest concoction: She’ll Never Let Us Call It That Imperial IPA. For those who love fruity beers, Honey! Strawberry Blonde is a winner; the brewing process incorporates fresh, local strawberries to get the beer’s full flavor.

Ephrata-based Black Forest Brewery and St. Boniface Craft Brewing offered samples of their beers found on tap at their West Main Street locations. Rounding out the breweries in attendance were Battlefield Brew Works, Cox Brewing Company, Lancaster Brewing Company, Stoudts Brewing Company, Union Barrel Works, and Wacker Brewing Company.

The event also offered several non-alcoholic choices, like free bottles of water provided by Weis Markets. Renewal Kombucha of Lititz brought free samples of Hibiscus Mint Green Tea and White Tea with Lemongrass. Kombucha is a fermented tea, which contains probiotics and is heralded for its ability to strengthen the immune system. The Hill, who served up fresh-carved prime rib sandwiches, also offered a selection of craft sodas from Reading Draft.

To keep an eye out for the date of next year’s Ephrata Brewfest, follow their Facebook page.

Michael C. Upton is a freelance writer specializing in arts and leisure. He welcomes comments at somepromcugmail.com and facebook.com/SomebodiesProductions.

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