For a while, many folks wondered if Spring would ever get here. This past weekend, it did, and it was glorious. The favorable weather allowed yours truly to attend two different beerfests in two states, and, though decidedly different in presentation and appeal, both were spectacular.
The second of two fests in two days took place at Triumph Brewing in New Hope, PA. While nowhere near the magnitude and scope of the previous day's massive beerfest in Jersey City, this five-year-old festival, called "Bucks, Bacon and Beer--2018," organized by Bucks County Taste Founder Lynne Goldman (below, right), features mostly local, farm-to-table vendors and products.
And in this case, that included lots and lots of bacon, sausages, chocolates, ice cream, BBQ, jerky, coffee and music. Though I don't usually comment on the musical entertainment, I suspected this was going to be a unique event when the ensemble--using jugband instruments-- launched into an arrangement of Wagner's Also Sprach Zarathustra early on. That has to count for something.
The PubScout covered the opening of the Triumph Brewing facility in New Hope some fifteen years ago, and though I've been back since, getting to see what Adam Rechnitz's staff has done with the facility is both impressive and satisfying. The two-level brewpub offers a combination of airy, modern and cool, while the sun-splashed patio looks out on the New Hope and Ivyland Railroad station, kind of like a Polar Express for families with young children.
It was on that sun-splashed patio that the PubScout and pals, SubScouts Paul and Maria, parked for the day in lovely weather. Fortunately, it was directly in front of the Great Barn Brewery's table, where affable Maryanna Ferguson was providing beer from the only other beer maker at the fest besides Triumph. Using a motto of "Growing Better Beer," Maryanna shared that she grows her own barley to make GB's beers, which is, I suppose, "farm-to-glass."
And after being in business for just seven months, Great Barn has a Gold Medal from the GABF to show for their efforts, which is nothing to sneeze at. The Midnight Fox Oatmeal Stout (5% ABV) snagged that prestigious award, but her "Where the Delaware Am I" IPA was remarkably good as well. Six year round beers are joined by four seasonals, and Maryanna is quick to share that Mother Nature determines when those become available.
Because the authorities wouldn't allow GB to have a tasting room right in their farm barn, customers can go directly to the tasting room in New Hope, just a stone's throw from where the festival was being held. PubScout tip: Keep your eye--and your nose, and your palate-- on this brewery.
Triumph Brewer Brendan Andersen makes some damned fine beers, as well. Yesterday, he had me enjoying his version of a NEIPA, but the one that really popped was his Belgian Table Beer. Very complex and very balanced, there aren't many tables it wouldn't complement, and it paired spectacularly with the Bacon-Flavored popcorn (below).
While the festgoer could purchase food for consumption during the event, a savvy one could have dined like a king the whole day for free--as we did. The various vendors' samples--sausages, pulled pork tacos, creme brule-filled eggshells filled with bacon, and a wide variety of chocolate delights--including chocolate-covered bacon--kept us quite sated.
Though there was a lot of action inside Triumph's cavernous pub, most opted for sitting in that gorgeous sunshine, and our table for three soon became a table for eight, which was fine with us. You meet the nicest folks at beerfests. We even planned a follow-up rendezvous at Caldwell's famous Cloverleaf Tavern, where Donna (below) has multiple Ph.D degrees in beer. She's The PubScout's kind of gal.
Bucks, Bacon and Beer is in its fifth season, and Lynn Goldman had special tags made up to give to visitors based upon the number of years they've been attending. The joint venture with Triumph has clearly been a winner.
If you get the chance, head for New Hope next year and earn your badge.
I got a newbie badge this time, but I'll definitely get a "2" next year.