By Gene Axton - [email protected]

More than 100 beers at Mohegan Sun Arena July 30 during NEPA Beer Fest

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Victor Hurdle organized the Reading Craft Beer Festival under his Brew Crew Events moniker. July 30’s NEPA Beer Festival is his first venture into Northeastern Pennsylvania.
Submitted photo
Backwoods BBQ Sauces is a Plains-based business and will be in attendance at July 30’s NEPA Beer Festival.
Submitted photo
Thirsty Fish Brewing is present at events to grow its brand recognition. The brewing company will be on hand at July 30’s NEPA Beer Festival at Mohegan Sun Arena.
Submitted photo

WILKES-BARRE TWP — Most events at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza include beer, but the arena’s July 30 event elevates the drink from option to main attraction.

The inaugural NEPA Beer Festival is scheduled to feature more than 50 beer vendors during a 4-hour tasting period (five for VIP attendees). General admission tickets start at $30, include a 2-ounce tasting glass and grant festival goers unlimited access to more than 100 different beers.

The full vendor list brings a number of beers to Northeastern Pennsylvania, but the only local beers represented are Pittston’s Susquehanna Brewing Company and Carbondale’s 3 Guys & A Beer’d Brewing Company.

“I think it’s a great event; it brings people together,” said Matt Zuk of Three Guys & A Beer’d. “It’s a really good venue to really showcase what we’re doing here. I’m probably going to bring my Shaving Cream Ale and my IPA and I’m not sure if I’m going to bring a third selection or not. I might bring a special brew for the VIP session.”

Zuk said the brewery became part of the event after organizer Victor Hurdle reached out.

“We do have some local guys and we definitely want to have good local representation, but we also want to include the craft beer scene, so we kind of have to straddle that divide a little bit,” Hurdle said.

Hurdle, 31 is a resident of Reading and owner of Brew Crew Events. He is behind the Reading Craft Beer Festival, Phoenixville Craft Beer Festival and plans to host an event in Philadelphia later this year. He used his previous experience planning beer-centric events — and drinking beer-filled glasses — as inspiration for NEPA Beer Festival.

“In developing the festival I tried to really mix it up and get local craft beer, regional and also even international,” Hurdle said. “There’s definitely going to be the IPAs, but also there’s going to be the beers that are lower in ABV. They kind of run the gamut.”

In an effort to host a wide variety of beers at the event, Hurdle reached as far as Louisiana to bring Dixie Brewing Company and Abita Brewing Company to Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza. There are also a number of Eastern Pennsylvania breweries taking part, including Pottstown’s Sly Fox Brewery and Thirsty Fish Brewing, anticipated to open in Allentown in 2017.

John Semonich started Thirsty Fish in February with his girlfriend and two co-workers. The brewery’s name is inspired by the enthusiasm Semonich and most of his fellow brewers share for salt water fish tanks.

“I think we’re going to have two brand new beers that we haven’t brought out before and then our big hits are our Mango IPA and our black IPA, which is titled Octopus Ink IPA,” Semonich said.

Semonich said he’ll have Thirsty Fish’s dog treats available at the festival, but those looking for human treats won’t be left in the doghouse. Along with Mohegan Sun Arena’s concessions, food vendors including Lansdale’s Bespoke Bacon and Plains’ Backwoods BBQ Sauces will be on-site.

Backwoods BBQ Sauces’ Joseph Durning said events give him the opportunity to reach a younger demographic while broadening his beer palette.

“We try to keep it really simple. We make the sweet garlic barbecue that has no heat, a private stock barbecue sauce that’s a little warm and we do make the ghost pepper hot sauce,” Durning said. “We also carry a line of 15 different dip mixes and we’ll be bringing four of them to the event: our ghost pepper, Trinidad scorpion, our Carolina reaper and our jalapeno mixes.”

Susquehanna Brewing Company will represent Pittston on the beer side of things. Along with mainstays like Shady Spot and the Belgian triple ale, SBC Vice President Fred Maier said to expect a surprise from the brewery.

“We’ll probably do a firkin; a specialty one-off,” Maier said. “That’ll be a special surprise, when we tap the keg we’ll see what it tastes like. We’ll kind of wait and see because sometimes when you do some specialty stuff you have to be willing to walk away from it quickly.”

VIP ticket holders will have access to what Hurdle described as “heavy appetizers” during the event. VIP tickets start at $50. Designated driver tickets are available and include access to the general admission area and a DD-only lounge featuring non-alcoholic beverages. DD tickets are $7 or free with the purchase of four general admission tickets.

Hurdle hopes the event sells well enough to warrant a sequel next year.

“We all speak a common language of liking craft beer from a lot of different areas and we honestly do believe that if it’s positively received, which I don’t see why it wouldn’t be, then yeah, I absolutely do hope it becomes an annual event,” Hurdle said.

For more information or to buy tickets to the 21-and-over event, visit MoheganSunArenaPA.com or call 1-800-745-3000.

Victor Hurdle organized the Reading Craft Beer Festival under his Brew Crew Events moniker. July 30’s NEPA Beer Festival is his first venture into Northeastern Pennsylvania.
http://theweekender.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/web1_Reading-craft-beer-fest-2.jpgVictor Hurdle organized the Reading Craft Beer Festival under his Brew Crew Events moniker. July 30’s NEPA Beer Festival is his first venture into Northeastern Pennsylvania. Submitted photo

Backwoods BBQ Sauces is a Plains-based business and will be in attendance at July 30’s NEPA Beer Festival.
http://theweekender.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/web1_backwoods-bbq-jpeg-2.jpgBackwoods BBQ Sauces is a Plains-based business and will be in attendance at July 30’s NEPA Beer Festival. Submitted photo

Thirsty Fish Brewing is present at events to grow its brand recognition. The brewing company will be on hand at July 30’s NEPA Beer Festival at Mohegan Sun Arena.
http://theweekender.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/web1_thirsty-fish-brew-jpeg-2.jpgThirsty Fish Brewing is present at events to grow its brand recognition. The brewing company will be on hand at July 30’s NEPA Beer Festival at Mohegan Sun Arena. Submitted photo
Mohegan Sun Arena hosts inaugural beer fest with tastings, food vendors, VIP appetizer access

By Gene Axton

[email protected]

General admission vendor list

Abita Brewing Company, Allagash Brewing Company, Alpine Beer Company, Boulevard Brewing Company, Dixie Brewing Company, Dogfish Head, Green Flash, Harpoon Brewery, Ommegang Brewery, Stone Brewing Company, Troegs, Unibroue, Wyder’s Hard Cider, Angry Orchard Hard Cider, Blue Moon, Coney Island Brewing Company, Evil Genius Beer Company, Gambrinus, Lagunitas Brewing Company, The Traveler Beer Company, Neshaminy Creek Brewing Company, New Belgium Brewing, Otter Creek Brewing Company, Rusty Rail Brewing Company, Yards Brewing Company, Victory Brewing Company, Voodoo Brewery, Weyerbacher, Wyndridge Farm, SlyFox Beer, 3 Guys & A Beer’d Brewing Company, The Lion Brewery, Samuel Adams, Thirsty Fish Brewing Company, Oskar Blues Brewery, New Holland Brewing, Jack’s Abby Craft Lagers, Sole Artisan Ales, Fegley’s Brewworks, Saucony Creek Brewing Company, Goose Island Beer Company, Kona Brewing Company, Susquehanna Brewing Company, Yuengling and Bell’s Brewery, Inc.

VIP exclusive vendor list

Short’s Brewing Company, Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits, Pizza Boy Brewing Company, Naked Brewing Company, Dark Horse Brewing Company

Reach Gene Axton at 570-991-6121 or on Twitter @TLArts

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Reach Gene Axton at 570-991-6121 or on Twitter @TLArts

General admission vendor list

Abita Brewing Company, Allagash Brewing Company, Alpine Beer Company, Boulevard Brewing Company, Dixie Brewing Company, Dogfish Head, Green Flash, Harpoon Brewery, Ommegang Brewery, Stone Brewing Company, Troegs, Unibroue, Wyder’s Hard Cider, Angry Orchard Hard Cider, Blue Moon, Coney Island Brewing Company, Evil Genius Beer Company, Gambrinus, Lagunitas Brewing Company, The Traveler Beer Company, Neshaminy Creek Brewing Company, New Belgium Brewing, Otter Creek Brewing Company, Rusty Rail Brewing Company, Yards Brewing Company, Victory Brewing Company, Voodoo Brewery, Weyerbacher, Wyndridge Farm, SlyFox Beer, 3 Guys & A Beer’d Brewing Company, The Lion Brewery, Samuel Adams, Thirsty Fish Brewing Company, Oskar Blues Brewery, New Holland Brewing, Jack’s Abby Craft Lagers, Sole Artisan Ales, Fegley’s Brewworks, Saucony Creek Brewing Company, Goose Island Beer Company, Kona Brewing Company, Susquehanna Brewing Company, Yuengling and Bell’s Brewery, Inc.

VIP exclusive vendor list

Short’s Brewing Company, Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits, Pizza Boy Brewing Company, Naked Brewing Company, Dark Horse Brewing Company