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BEER SCENE: Local craft, regional legacy, German brewers in the spotlight at area events

Local craft, regional legacy, German brewers in the spotlight Saturday

By Brian Bingaman,, @brianbingaman on Twitter

Monday, February 19, 2018

Feb. 24 is a red-letter day for local craft beer drinkers.

It is the day the Pottstown-based Schuylkill River Greenways National Heritage Area introduces the “Heritage & Hops Brew Tour,” which pairs beer tastings with lessons on history and the environment.

Schuylkill River Greenways NHA Executive Director Elaine Schaefer stated in a press release: “You can’t make great beer without clean water. We know the people who will take this tour all enjoy local beer. But they may not consider how integrally beer making is connected to protecting and preserving the Schuylkill River, which is a source of drinking water for over 1.5 million people.

Beer and breweries are a valuable and fun piece of our regional culture. We want people to recognize the role the river and the Schuylkill River Trail play in building that culture.”

Four local breweries will offering tastings of beers produced on site, as well as presentations about their connection to the Schuylkill River, Schuylkill River Trail or regional history.

The Heritage and Hops Brew Tour will begin at Oakbrook Brewing in Reading, where the presentation will focus on its historic firehouse location. The next stop will be Sly Fox Brewery in Pottstown, where participants will learn about how Sly Fox’s SRT Ale supports the Schuylkill River Trail. After that, Hidden River Brewing Co., located in the Historic Brinton Lodge in Douglassville, will discuss its 18th century building. The final stop will be Root Down in Phoenixville, where the topic will be the history of Phoenixville and their building’s industrial past.

Unfortunately for you, word got out very quickly about Heritage & Hops, and it’s sold out. However you can sign up for email updates at

Fortunately for you, Feb. 24 is also the seventh annual Philly Bierfest, being held at the German Society of Pennsylvania. The gate opens to VIP ticket-holders at 1, after a noon beer seminar for the VIP Plus ticket-holders.

Pennsylvania has long had a cultural bond with Germany, and according to Bill Covaleski, the president of Victory Brewing Co. in Downingtown, Pennsylvania’s craft brewers lead the nation in brewing German-style beers, such as lagers, pilsners, weizens and bocks.

Victory is one of nearly two dozen Pennsylvania craft and legacy brewers that will be on hand.

Also offering samples will be:

2nd Story Brewing Co. (Philadelphia)

Brewery Techne/Bar Hygge (Philadelphia)

Evil Genius Beer Co. (Philadelphia)

Free Will Brewing Co. (Perkasie)

Gunpowder Falls Brewing Co. (New Freedom)

Nodding Head Brewery (Philadelphia)

Penn Brewery (Pittsburgh)

Round Guys Brewing Co. (Lansdale)

Roy-Pitz Brewing Co. (Chambersburg)

Samuel Adams’ Pennsylvania brewery (Breinigsville)

Sly Fox Brewing Co. (Phoenixville)

St. Benjamin Brewing Co. (Philadelphia)

Stoudts Brewing Co. (Adamstown)

Susquehanna Brewing Co. (Pittston)

Tröegs Brewing Co. (Harrisburg)

Yards Brewing Co. (Philadelphia)

ZeroDay Brewing Co. (Harrisburg)

Yuengling (Pottsville)

German imported beers will be poured as well, ranging from high-profile flagships to lesser-known artisanal brews: Aldersbacher, Ayinger, Bitburger, Distelhäuser, Friedenfelser, Grevensteiner, Hacker-Pschorr, Himburgs Braukunst Keller, König Ludwig, Köstritzer, Paulaner, Pfungstadter, Pinkus, Radeberger, Riedenburger, Schöfferhofer, Veltins, Warsteiner, Weihenstephaner, Zoller-Hof and more.

The festivities also includes arm wrestling with the ferocious female athletes of Philly Roller Derby (who will be pouring beer to raise funds for a new practice facility and their national tournament travel schedule), live bluegrass and “oompah-funk,” Les the Mentalist, “Berlin-style BEERlesque” (The Philly Bierfest website describes the racy factor of this cabaret variety act as PG-13) and Pennsylvania cheesemakers and cideries in the “Edgar Allan Poe Cheese Cave & PA Cider Bar” in the German Society’s basement tavern. Inspired by the adjacent Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site, this area will feature “Poe-tic” performances, disquieting works of art and macabre décor worthy of the legendary writer.

General admission to Philly Bierfest also includes a 4:30 p.m. Brewer’s Discussion Panel, moderated by beer author Lew Bryson on the topic of “Tradition vs. Trends in American and German Craft Brewing.”

Supervised “kinder-care” is offered for thirsty parents, and “beer-less” tickets are available for designated drivers and children over 12.