Festival brings together beer aficionados

Festival brings together beer aficionados

As appeared in The Times Tribune by Kyle Wind on November 15, 2015.

MOOSIC — When Bill Packer’s wife, Beth, bought him a kit to brew his own beer for Christmas a couple of years ago, the Scranton resident discovered a new hobby.

Now a handful of times per year, the 47-year-old begins the monthlong process of creating about 45 bottles of his own India pale ale that he shares with friends, co-workers and relatives.

“Some of them like it; some of them don’t,” Mr. Packer said with a smile. “For some of them, it’s too much. Everybody is used to drinking Budweiser or Miller. The home brews have a lot more taste.”

Mr. Packer was one of dozens of people who attended lessons from the Scranton Brewers Guild at the Electric City Fall Craft Brew Fest at Montage Mountain, which packed Montage with beer-lovers on Saturday. Times-Shamrock Communications, the parent company of The Sunday Times, sponsored the event.

JASON FARMER / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Steve Pisarski of Jessup pours a beer during the VIP session of the Electric City Fall Craft Brew Fest held at Montage Mountain on Saturday.

Northeast Pennsylvania didn’t have much of a craft brew scene until a handful of early leaders started popping up about five or six years ago, said Lee Burke of the Scranton Brewers Guild.

Some notable contributors he listed were Breaker Brewing Co. of Wilkes-Barre Twp., Susquehanna Brewing Co. of Pittston Twp. and 3 Guys & a Beer’d of Carbondale.

“They kind of got it moving,” Mr. Burke said. “We’re at the point where now we’re getting specialized in a lot of areas. What a craft beer likes to see is the local guy come up with not just your boilerplate pale ale, your IPA, maybe your lager, but all different beers, seasonal beers. That’s what we all look for. There are so many varieties.”

Today the Newton Twp. resident has a whole network of craft beer aficionados with whom to connect, with Backyard Ale House and Coopers Seafood House Restaurant and Pub providing support. He estimated the Scranton area is home to at least 100 home brewers, with a comparable number in the Wyoming Valley as well.

The Scranton Brewers Guild has about 60 members; Saturday’s festival featured about 80 different styles of beer, Mr. Burke estimated.

Part of the fun is supporting local brewers who periodically distribute different beers every year.

Jefferson Twp. resident Melissa Cravath, 36, and Scranton resident Tim McHale, 26, both came as consumers who enjoy craft beers, rather than brewers.

Some selections impressed Ms. Cravath, others not so much. Regardless, she appreciated the variety.

“Give me something different,” Ms. Cravath said. “The same old thing gets boring after a while.”

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