State College Brew Expo showcases liquid craft

Yorkholo Brewing Co. wasn’t the most popular brewery Saturday at the 15th annual State College Brew Expo at Tussey Mountain Ski Resort, but by the end of the night a crowd of guests couldn’t stop talking about it

The Mansfield-based brewer used a water filter attached to a cooler that mixed its beer with hops that was viewable to the public.

“It’s nice when you’re able to see how the beer gets its flavor right in front of you,” said Steve Conway, who spent the night at the expo with a group of friends.

Yorkholo owners Jarrod York and Ashley Rodgers left handfuls of hops at their beer booth for the public to see as they offered four different craft beers. Rodgers said the two grow their own hops.

“This is what gives the beer flavor. It’s where that hint of bitterness comes from,” Rodgers said as she took a piece of hops, rubbed it in her hands and offered a whiff of the aroma it expelled.

The brewery was founded two-and-a-half years ago and made its third visit to the expo.

The annual event allows microbreweries from around the state and mid-Atlantic to showcase their beers to the public, while the crowd also enjoys food and live entertainment in the mix.

Organizer Mike Martin said he became involved with the expo four years ago when the venue changed to Tussey Mountain.

The event held seminars on bourbon barrel aging with Matt Allyn from Voodoo Brewery and a home brew competition with brewers from Elk Creek, Gamble Mill and Otto’s.

The expo featured 36 breweries, with nearly 200 different beers, and attracted about 1,200 people, Martin said.

For another brewing company this was a chance to market its beer to a different part of the state.

“We’re really popular in Pittsburgh and western Pennsylvania, but with Penn State being right here and attracting several people from central and eastern Pennsylvania, we want to show them what we got and spread awareness about our beers,” said Duquesne Brewing Co. representative Shea Loftus.

The Latrobe-based brewer reopened two years ago after closing in 1972, Loftus said. He said a Pennsylvania attorney bought the company with the vision to bring a good beer to Pennsylvanians that would not break the bank while also creating jobs.

But for organizers, breweries and the people in attendance, the expo was more than good beer and music. A part of the proceeds will go to Coaches vs. Cancer, an organization that includes as a member expo organizer Mike Martin.

“I’m on the committee and it’s a really special organization,” Martin said.

Coaches vs. Cancer is a foundation initiated by college basketball coaches that aims to bring the community together to help in the fight for a cure for cancer and is a part of the American Cancer Society.

Last year, $10,000 was donated to the foundation. This year, Martin said the goal is to match or exceed last year’s donation.

And that was one of the main reasons why Appalachian Brewing Company from Harrisburg attended the expo.

“Of course we like to offer our beers to people, but we’re really community based and wanted to help support a foundation like Coaches vs. Cancer that helps so many,” added Kevin Kellar, an assistant brewer at Appalachian Brewing Company.

And event organizers were making sure participants had safe options to return home.

Martin said numerous taxis were on hand to transport people to and from their destinations, while State College police assisted at the event.

Kellar said on his side, the brewery denied those who were already highly intoxicated any more to drink to help keep the venue and others safe.

“When you get into this kind of business, you need to take everything into consideration and the last thing we want to do is encourage someone being unsafe at an event like this,” Kellar said.

Martin said since he and his wife took over the event four years ago, they have been successful in keeping the expo a fun, yet safe.

“Our goal really to showcase these breweries, give back to a great cause and allow people to have a lot of fun within their means,” Martin said.