Beerfest to showcase some of the best in craft brews Oct. 25
More than half of the breweries are from New Jersey (12) and Pennsylvania (7), according to Blend’s Chief Tasting Officer, Rick Stripp, Jr. Besides the beer, there will be pig roast sponsored by FunniBonz Smokehouse of Robbinsville. Whole pigs will be roasted, and the pulled pork served to attendees. Accompanying the food and drink will be live music provided by a variety of local acts running the gamut from acoustic singer/songwriters to cover bands, jam bands and Sinatra style crooners. According to Stripp, some of the acts scheduled to appear are DaddyGreen- Jeans, Some Assembly Required, Shaun Ruymen, Jaime Alexis and Bob Orlowski. This is the second annual, large scale event put on by Blend.
“Last year, it was our first year in business and we wanted to have an interesting event,” managing partner Antonio Carannante said. “We wanted to have a beer festival last year, but because we were new and there are a bunch of regulations on it we kind of ran it as an Oktoberfest.” Carannante calculates 300 guests attended and paid a cover charge for the entertainment and then bought additional tickets for beer and food. That event gave Carannante and Stripp the confidence and contacts to build on their success and plan an all out beer festival this time around. This year they are looking to sell between 700 and 800 tickets to the expanded festival, and will cap sales at “around 1,000” if it comes to that point. “We want to minimize lines and keep parking manageable,” Carannante said. "We want our guests to have a completely positive experience.”
This year, the team started the process of working with the state division of Alcoholic Beverage Control and local authorities over the summer. Advance tickets cost $45, and will be available until Oct. 24. Day of event tickets (if available) will be $55.
A special “Designated Driver” ticket is available for $20 ($15 early bird) thatincludes the pig roast and soft drinks. Anyone with a designated driver ticket seen holding any alcoholic beverage or tasting cup, empty or full, will be immediately ejected from the grounds. All the serving areas will be tented. There will be limited, beer garden style seating at picnic tables. Stripp was still working on the final list of beer offerings at press time but gave up a few highlights. California’s North Coast Brewing will be sending some Barrel Aged Old Rasputin XV, an Imperial Stout aged in bourbon barrels.
"We’ll also have Carton’s 3rd Anniversary beer, SS2014 Yirgacheffe,” he said. Based in Atlantic Highlands, Carton describes its anniversary brew as an “Imperial Coffee IPA” highlighting and blending the flavors of cold brewed Ethiopian Yirgacheffe coffee with the Lemon Drop and Sorachi Ace varieties of hops. Stripp chose brand new offerings from a few of the breweries, including Starr Hill (Va.), River Horse (N.J.), Rinn Duin (N.J.), Stoudts (Pa.), Free Will (Pa.), and Unibroue (Quebec City, Canada). There will also be two special firkins of beers. Traditionally, Firkins are small (about 10 gallons) wooden kegs. After the primary fermentation, a beer might be transferred to a firkin for additional treatment with hops, fruit or some other “extra” to give it a distinctive flavor. The transfer also revives the yeast in the beer and kicks off a secondary fermentation.
Because this occurs in a closed system, that fermentation carbonates the beer. The beer will be drawn off via gravity or via a “hand pump” and may be served a tad warmer than your everyday American mainstream beer. The softer (lower) carbonation and higher serving temperature plus whatever special treatment is given to the beer in the keg ensures a unique tasting experience.
While he wasn’t sure of the exact treatments or them yet, Stripp anticipates special firkins of Neshaminy Creek’s (Pa.) Tribute Tripel and Bolero Snort’s (N.J.) Fall Pasture pumpkin beer. The event will be held rain or shine on Saturday, Oct. 25, from 1-5 p.m. in a picnic area behind Blend’s location on Route 33 in Hamilton. Admission is by ticket only. You must be 21 or over and have an ID. No pets are allowed. There is no reentry if you leave the festival grounds. Parking will be available on the grounds. There will be a continuous free shuttle to and from the Hamilton train station beginning about one hour before the festival opens and continuing for about an hour after the festival closes. Tickets are available online at guestflo.com/events/11037/tickets. Special deals on tickets will be available on social media.