When the State College Brew Expo started 17 years ago, brewers were begging organizers to be part of it.
Now, with the craft beer explosion, it’s the other way around.
This year’s brew expo, held Aug. 15 at Tussey Mountain, will feature about 40 breweries ranging from local favorites like Otto’s to national names Goose Island and Yards. More than half of those are Pennsylvania breweries, festival organizer Mike Martin said.
But as craft brewing and the demand for brewers’ attention continues to grow, festival organizers need to work harder each year to maintain the lineup that attendees have come to expect.
“The brewers get asked by so many different festivals and events to do things so we are appreciative that they continue to partner with us,” Martin said. “We truly can’t do it without them.”
Seminars are a new addition to this year’s event and are an effort to keep beer education and appreciation — rather than binge drinking — at the forefront of the event, Martin said. The State College Homebrewers Club will give an overview of home brewing at 6 p.m. Aug. 15, and author Ben Novak will give a keynote talk at 7 p.m.
Novak’s talk will focus on his book “The Birth of a Craft Brew Revolution,” which is based on his bi-weekly beer column for the Centre Daily Times in the 1980s. The columns told the stories of craft brewers and provided answers to common questions such as the difference between a beer and an ale, Novak said.
“We are now in a world where there are more than 3,000 craft breweries in the U.S. compared to about 50 brewers in the whole country in the 1980s,” Novak said. “No one knew that there was anything about beer to write about.”
The evening will culminate with a performance by Anthony D’Amato, a singer-songwriter who has garnered attention from NPR and performed with artists such as Pete Yorn and Alejandro Escovedo. Local rock band Royal Benson will open.
“What we’ve been trying to do is book up and rising artists before they take off,” Martin said. “Bands tend to go onto bigger festivals after they click with us.”
General admission tickets are $45 and VIP tickets include a ride to the top of Tussey Mountain and access to a VIP area. Proceeds from the expo will benefit Coaches vs. Cancer.