It may be more than 10,000 miles from Adelaide, South Australia, to central Pennsylvania, but that won’t stop Aussie Steve Wilkins from making the trek in search of some good beer. Actually, he’ll be bringing a recipe with him and hopes to show off his talents as a home brewer.
Wilkins loves to drink and brew lagers, the most commercialized style of beer in the world. Often, Wilkins said, judges and other home brewers look down on his affection for lager, but he thinks he has mastered his art.
“[It] makes my beer popular with [drinkers], but not so popular with brewers,” Wilkins said from his home in the fifth-largest city in Australia.
He will have a chance to demonstrate his skills to a panel of unbiased judges on Saturday, May 14, during the third annual BrewFest at Mount Hope Estate and Winery. The festival runs in two sessions Saturday, the first beginning at 11 a.m. and the second at 4:30 p.m. Wilkins will take part in a home brew competition sanctioned by the American Homebrewers Association and the Beer Judge Certification Program. The winner will be given the opportunity to brew with Mount Hope’s Swashbuckler Brewing Co. to create a specialty beer for the 2012 BrewFest.
“History kind of dictates which beers are brewed in certain regions,” said Mark Garber, of Lancaster Homebrew. “To me, there is no right or wrong. In America there’s no rules. Home brewers around here will brew anything.”
Garber, who will present a home brewing demonstration during the event, explained that lagers are a harder beer to make. As for the competition, he’s not sure if he’ll enter. He makes his beer for his tastes and never got into competitions.
Even with more than 90 competitors, the home brew contest is just a small part of what is going on at BrewFest. The grounds of Mount Hope will host 32 local, regional, national and international breweries providing samples and information about their products.
“The ticket includes sampling, access to the free buffets and entertainment,” Mount Hope public relations coordinator Teresa Centini said. “We have a couple new breweries joining us this year.”
As for local breweries, JoBoy’s Brew Pub (Manheim), Swashbuckler, Union Barrel Works (Reamstown), Lancaster Brewing Co. and Bube’s Brewery (Mount Joy) will represent Lancaster County. Notable regional brewers include Flying Fish, Yuengling and Victory. New to this year’s event is international importer Belukus Marketing, which showcases the German pilsner Konig; Belhaven brewery in Scotland; Wells and Young’s Brewing Co., from England; and three Belgian breweries.
“They have a couple different brands, so I’m not sure exactly what they are bringing the day of the event,” Centini said. “I think they are going to bring a [variety] of them.”
To sober up the bellies of the beer samplers, BrewFest will strategically place three all-you-can-eat buffets on the grounds. Hungry visitors can select from pork barbecue, bratwurst, hot dogs, smoked brisket, chicken chili, potato salad and garden pasta salad. Designated drivers — who will be admitted at a discounted rate — can take in all the food as well.
Everyone can enjoy the entertainment. The folk-rock sounds of Dillsburg band Case 150 and acoustic guitarists Josh Albright will take center stage along with Mike Miz of Scranton. Each session will end with a performance by Philadelphia blues rockers Toy Soldier.
For more information about BrewFest or to purchase tickets, call 665-7021, ext. 231, or visit parenfaire.com.