Hopin’ Around: The ol’ stompin’ grounds

By on October 18, 2017

Our beer writer ran into a childhood friend and her family at Brew-chanan Fest. (Left to right) Tabatha, Rafael and Moses Hernandez enjoy a beautiful day in the Buchanan Park beer garden. (Photos by Michael Upton)

I spent my childhood summers climbing the statues and the trees in Lancaster City’s Buchanan Park. I was a skater townie, harassing the students at F&M College in the fall, sledding down “the nutcracker” in the winter, having soccer practice in the park each spring. So, when I got the chance to revisit the old haunt for a beer festival I jumped at the opportunity … and I ran into a couple of my distant classmates as well.

I never realized my high school football (in the European vernacular) pal Ronnie went on to a career in broadcasting. Now going by the handle Ronnie Ramone, he turned out to be my point of contact for the first ever Brew-chanan Fest beer festival, which took place on Saturday, Oct. 7, in the southwestern corner of the park, right where we used to run sprints.

Ronnie is a radio personality for Hall Communications (ESPN Radio 92.7 and FUN 101.3). The local ESPN Radio affiliate coordinated the festival, hoping to reach out to new listeners and reward those familiar with the sports news brand.

I wasn’t there five minutes before running into another graduate of Reynolds Jr. High School, my friend Tabatha, who came with her husband Moses Hernandez and their son Rafael (who is of drinking age, so yeah, we’re getting older). Evidently, she’s the queen of keeping in touch with all us little rascals.

But enough of my trip down memory lane. What about the beer?

Mulherin’s Irish Red Ale from Crooked Eye Brewery of Hatboro.

Two of the three-part ownership team of St. Boniface Craft Brewing in Ephrata, Mike Price and Dain Shirey, were tapping beers. The duo was glad to be out meeting some new faces, too. One of a slew of local breweries at the fest, St. Boniface was joined by Columbia Kettle Works, Moo-Duck Brewery, Mad Chef Craft Brewing, Lancaster Brewing Company, Spring House Brewing Co., Wacker Brewing Co., Stoudts Brewing Co., Iron Hill Brewery, and Funk Brewing Etown to represent the home county.

Several familiar beermakers (Zeroday, Victory, Pizza Boy, etc.) from surrounding counties attended, too, but I was introduced to a few breweries I hadn’t heard of. Rhone Brew Co. out of Carlisle, which doubles as a homebrew supply store, brought a Hefeweizen and a Rye double IPA; I wasn’t a big fan.

Burd’s Nest Brewing Co., also from Carlisle, had the popular spot under the shade of a large tree on this sunny October Saturday. Lines formed for their flagship Centennial Pale Ale and seasonal Brown Ale. The brown ale was rustic and traditional with a nice balance between hops and malt. I couldn’t get into their Black IPA with its tired mouthfeel and a hopiness clashing with an aroma of dried, dusty flowers. It might just be my palate, though, as most festgoers seemed to like it.

The standout for me was Crooked Eye Brewery from Hatboro. With taps a’blazing, these guys came ready to put their best foot forward by offering four distinctly different beers — an Irish red, an IPA, and brown and pale ales. Relative newcomers, Crooked Eye has been brewing since 2014.

Beyond the beer, Brew-chanan Fest was an experience. For those who ran down their cell batteries snapping selfies there was a charging station. Rogue Popcorn handed out samples of gourmet snacks, including cheeseburger flavored popcorn. Gourmet eats (and mixed drinks) were available from 551 West. And, what’s a radio event without music? Hot, local cover band Jimmy the Whale was ripping out tunes all day.

Cheers and thanks for reading!

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

Mike Price and Dain Shirey of St. Boniface enjoyed handing out brews at Brew-chanan Fest.

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