The craft brew scene has been bubbling over in recent years, with several new breweries and tasting rooms popping up throughout the midstate.
So, just when beer lovers didn’t think it could get any better, along comes Harrisburg Beer Week, which runs the last week of April. The event promises high-end connoisseurs and weekend beer warriors alike more events, new brewers, an expanded homebrew battle and the opportunity to take classes in the art of beer-making.
And did I mention drinking beer?
Now in its third year, Harrisburg Beer Week, the brainchild of Sara Bozich, Chelsie Markel, Colleen Nguyen and Tierney Pomone, has helped to promote local beer tourism by drawing visitors to the capital area for a chance to imbibe, celebrate, learn and support charity. From its inception, the event has grown greatly in participants and customers.
This year’s event features several new kids on the block, like a mini golf outing on City Island, as well as the usual fan favorites, such as the Little Big Beer Fest and Battle of the Homebrewers. And, throughout the week, there’s no end to the beer pairings, tap takeovers, brewery collaborations and firkin nights.
The fun starts on April 21 with a VIP kickoff party in a new venue—the historic Pennsylvania Room of the Harrisburg Transportation Center. But, even if you can’t make it there, numerous local bars, restaurants and breweries will host their own celebrations on that first night.
The next day is PA Flavor, the longstanding festival that matches our state’s homegrown food with natively brewed beer. One participant will be HACC, which developed a certificate in brewing science program last year, and Beer Week will help showcase the results.
“HACChiato, created by the students in our Brewing Science Program, will be spotlighted in collaboration with Zeroday Brewing Co.,” said Abigail Peslis, director of corporate and business services at HACC. “Additionally, we will hold mini brewing education sessions—‘Brewing Abridged’—on April 25, instructed by local brewing experts.” The classes will be held at HACC’s Midtown campus.
Next-door neighbor Zeroday will play host to a dizzying array of events. Its biggest event, “Freaky Friday” on April 28, is a switcheroo that will transform Zeroday’s tasting room into Carlisle-based Molly Pitcher Brewing Co., while Molly Pitcher makes over its tasting room into Zeroday, with each brewery’s respective libations on tap at the other place.
“This is the first year something like this has been done,” said Brandalynn Armstrong, Zeroday co-owner and Lindsay Lohan stand-in.
Zeroday also will feature a collaboration brew with Molly Pitcher Brewing Co. and Middletown-based Tattered Flag Brewery & Still Works. The brewers worked together to design the recipe for the beer—“Marketing Gimmick,” a juicy, hopped saison—but will be brewing the same recipe independently with an official release on April 26 at the Midtown Tavern in Harrisburg. The new beer will be available for sale in the breweries’ tasting rooms, and guests will receive a punch card that is included in the Harrisburg Beer Week brochure. Customers who visit all three breweries during the week will get a specially printed, 32-ounce growlette.
“We really want to encourage travel to all three places,” Armstrong said.
Once again, Harrisburg River Rescue is the beneficiary of Beer Week proceeds. The organizers hope to top last year’s windfall of $40,000, which was double the inaugural year amount, to improve the rescue’s facility.
To that end, Garlic Poet in New Cumberland will offer tickets to its exclusive Chef’s Table Beer Dinners. These dinners will provide guests with the opportunity to eat and discuss the beer-making process, as well as meet Executive Chef Kurt Wewer.
The Garlic Poet’s sister restaurant, Grain + Verse Bottlehouse, located right next door, features more than 300 different craft beers. The unique bottle shop will hold a number of events, including the first-ever Tröegs beer trivia night, featuring a limited scratch beer to be tapped at the start of every round of trivia. Tröegs’ very own Ffej Herb will emcee the event.
“We have a rich heritage of producing beer in Pennsylvania, and this week celebrates it,” Wewer said.
Some new sponsors and features have been added to this year’s roster. Among the sponsors is Weis Markets, which will host events in the pub of its new flagship store on Valley Road in Hampden Township. Among the new events: the inaugural Mini Golf outing on City Island (hint: both putters and beer may be involved).
One of the most popular annual events, “The Battle of the Homebrewers,” has moved and expanded. It will be held April 23 at the Broad Street Market. Market vendors will be open during the competition, and 35 home-brewers are slated to participate for top prizes. Attendees will receive a commemorative tasting glass to sample the brewers’ creations and will be treated to live music.
“Beer Week is a wonderful addition to the area, and the organizers are truly dedicated to making Harrisburg a cooler, more worldly place,” Wewer said.
Harrisburg Beer Week runs April 21 to 29. For more detailed information and a full listing of Harrisburg Beer Week events, visit www.harrisburgbeerweek.com.
Author: Ann Beth Knaus