LEWISBURG — This brew fest won’t be quite the splash-and-dash that many people are used to. This one is intentionally being kept small and casual, giving people a chance to savor the beers they’re trying.
Ard’s Farm, along Route 45 just west of town, will host their first ever Blues and Brews Festival Friday from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Tickets are $30.
“We are trying to do a more relaxed take on the typical beer festival,” said Rachael Murphy, marketing and public relations manager at Ard’s Farm. Noting the ample parking and space to social distance at Ard’s, she added, “We know people are kind of sick of being packed in like sardines.”
Only four breweries were invited to attend: Shy Bear Brewing, from Lewistown; New Trail Brewing Company, of Williamsport; Hidden Stories Brewing Company, of Millerstown; and Axemann Brewery, of Bellefonte. The idea for a more relaxed event came from Shy Bear.
“The reasons I suggested this type of festival is that when you have droves of people who go to traditional beer festivals, the mentality of some people seems to rove into how much can I sample in ‘X’ amount of time,” said Jason Ufema, owner of Shy Bear. “It somewhat becomes counterintuitive to what craft beer is about: take your time, enjoy an entire pint of beer and converse with those around you.
“Don’t get me wrong, there are some traditional festivals that are run well, and the culture of those who attend them are often good-hearted. There are also some who intend to drink as many samples as possible to get ‘their money’s worth.’”
Ufema is looking forward to offering a small sample of Shy Bear’s beers and giving guests the opportunity to decide on the quality of what they want to consume in a larger pour, which is “more indicative of the interesting notes of having an entire beer from first sip to last.
“There’s a lot about a beer that can change in texture and flavor in that time,” he said. “The breweries involved will also tend to bring better quality beers to a concept like this where, (otherwise), they may just bring their typical year-round styles.”
For people who prefer spirits and cocktails over beer, Nomad Distilling Company, of Williamsport, will offer their own drink selections, and Ard’s Farm’s food stand will sell burgers, wings and more.
Music will be provided by local guitarist Allan Combs II. And with the limited size of the crowd, “You can hear the music from anywhere in the entire event,” Murphy said.
Adding a sense of fun to the day, each guest will receive a necklace made of a variety of hard pretzels.
“As they start sampling the beer, they can clean their palate or just have a snack,” Murphy said.
The whimsy continues with guests testing their Davy Crockett aim in the mobile axe trailer provided by the Hatchet House, of Williamsport. Attendees will also enjoy event “swag” — beer steins or koozies — backyard games and a chance to enter the grand prize raffle.
“It’s just going to be a nice, relaxed evening,” Murphy said, “where you can get to enjoy the quality of the beer.”
I would tell people to come to an event like the one Ard’s is doing because of the format alone and the variety of the breweries that will be in attendance,” Ufema said. “There are a lot of similarities and differences between New Trail, Axemann, Hidden Stories and us … not just in stylistic differences but also because of modes of operation.”
Because he has no plans to mass distribute his beer, he is looking forward to the more intimate, “convivial” atmosphere of Ard’s Blues and Brews Festival and the opportunities to chat with attendees.
“As the owner, I would much rather have these one-on-one conversations with the end consumer than a random salesperson who may love our beer but may not know the nuances of past and future plans, how the name came to be, etc.,” he said.
For more information, Ard’s created an FAQ page at: https://ardsmarket.com/blues-and-brews-festival-21/.
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