Carolyn Blatchley of Harrisburg surveys the choices at one of the brewery's stands during the Selinsgrove 2nd Annual Hopes, Wines and Vines Festival Saturday July 18, 2009.

A good beer comes down to good ingredients and a lot of love and thousands were feeling the love Saturday at the second annual Hops, Vines and Wines Festival.

Thirty breweries from the Northeast and California were at the sold-out event where 1,000 ticket holders sampled everything from the Appalachian Brewing Company’s certified organic brown ale, the first of its kind in Pennsylvania, to the Victory Brewing Company’s award-winning Prima Pils.

Among those at Saturday’s festival was well-known beer aficionado, blogger and author Lew Bryson, whose full-time gig since 1995 has been sharing his inclinations on beer and whiskey with the masses.

When Bryson lifts a beer to his lips, he’s looking for one thing: “Would I want a whole glass of it?” he said. “That’s the test.”

Bryson found a pint-worthy beer Saturday from one of the Valley’s own microbreweries, the Old Forge Brewing Company, of Danville.

Old Forge’s Classic Kolsch, a German Pilsner, had everything Bryson was looking for on a summer day, he said. It was clean, flavorful, refreshing, and had no after-taste.

“Nicely done,” came Bryson’s verdict.

According to the brewers at Saturday’s festival, a good beer comes down to the finest ingredients — namely malt and hops. For you beer amateurs, it’s malt that provides the fermentable sugars necessary to make alcohol, and hops, a flower, that is used to flavor and preserve the beer.

“You look for a balance between the sweetness of the malt and the bitterness of the hops, which affects the flavor or the aroma of the beer,” said Alan Edwards, production manager at the Appalachian Brewing Company, Harrisburg.

But more than that, microbrewers are just as passionate about their beer as a chef is about his entree.

So agreed Damien Malsara, owner of the Old Forge: “I’m trying my best to make good beer that I love to drink. I think you have to have a passion for what you’re doing.”

Resting between tastings was Paul Lobaugh, of Pittsburgh, who named Maryland’s Dogfish Brewery’s mild and flavorful Bill Payer his favorite beer of the day.

“I’m an ale drinker and I like some off-beat ales,” Lobaugh said.

Susquehanna University grads Jessica Sprenkle, of York, and Lauren Klug, of Wilkes-Barre, walked away from the Selin’s Grove Brewing Company’s stand with a glass of Porter.

“It’s very smooth,” Klug said. “Very easy to drink.”

The year’s Hops, Vines and Wines Festival included more perks than last year, organizer Carol Handlan said, such as free food, free water and a shuttle service sponsored by local hotels, all details that went over well with the clientele.

“This is the nicest brewfest I’ve ever been to,” said Rita Heeter, of Oil City. “They just have all these extra things that make it very nice.”

The event raises money for Selinsgrove Projects Inc., Handlan said, and last year raised more than $22,000 to be put toward community revitalization such as the Selinsgrove Commons.

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