Category: Blog

Understanding craft beer: An underachiever’s guide

Admittedly, I am clueless about craft beer.

I’m a simple beer drinker – I like Corona. That’s my go-to beer. Or Blue Moon Belgian White with the requisite orange slice. That’s about as frou-frou as I get. When I am around people talking about craft beer, I feel like a noob, which is something I can’t stand.

What’s it mean when you say a beer is hoppy? What’s wheat beer? Why does pale ale or cream ale sound like something I’d enjoy but it’s actually god-awful sludge?

I’ve decided to attempt to educate myself, which, when I found the 103-page “Beer Study Guide” on a craft beer site, seemed much more daunting than I anticipated.

After taking a cursory glance at the incredibly in-depth guide, I think it’s best to broad-brush it. After all, I’m really a vodka-cranberry type girl at heart.

As I was scrolling past the exhaustive list of descriptors for the various ingredients, I saw the words “sweat socks”. Huh? I’ll pass, thanks.

I thought it best to start by finding out what some often-used terms mean. I am just dipping a toe at this point.

According to craftbeer.com, hops balance out the natural sweetness of beer, so a really ‘hoppy’ beer can sometimes be referred to as bitter. But it all depends when you add the hops. Apparently, India Pale Ale (IPA) beers are hoppy – aka a beer I would not like.

Malt, on the other hand, provide the sugars and are the primary source of beer color. Malt also contributes significantly to flavor, according to aperfectpint.net. Any sweetness is attributed to malt.

Wheat beer is of particular interest to me since I am fairly certain it’s the only kind of craft beer I will ever be able to enjoy. It’s low in hops, and is made with malted wheat.

Honestly – I am exhausted, and I didn’t even get to ales, pilsners, lagers or stouts.

My question is this: Who thought to combine any of this stuff? And who thought “Hmmm this tastes GREAT, let’s make tons more!”

Forget it. I’ll remain a noob. Pass me the vodka, please.

— Dana L. Hoffman

Meet Alicia Marinelli: From the Big Apple to the Crooked Road

alicia-staff-pic

It’s the calm before the storm – less than a month before Berks Country Fest kicks off June 2.

I recently sat down for a quick chat with Alicia Marinelli, sponsorship development coordinator for Pretzel City Productions.

A Wilkes-Barre native, Alicia lived in New York City for a few years before returning to Pennsylvania and settling down in Kutztown.

Q: You’ve been very active in event planning in previous positions. What experience have you had and what have you learned?

A: I worked for the (Lehigh Valley) IronPigs for three and a half years in the marketing arm of the IronPigs. I worked at Madison Square Garden from 2007 until the IronPigs.
(Madison Square Garden) was a really cool experience. I’m from rural PA, so it was a learning experience as far as culture.

Q: What kinds of things did you do at Madison Square Garden?

A: We would ask celebrities to get on the video board. I met Jay Z, Beyonce, John Legend, Magic Johnson …
I scheduled halftime acts and worked in event presentation. We created memories, things that people remember forever. I primarily worked for the Knicks, but also worked Rangers and WNBA games.

Q: What do you think is unique about this area?

A: There is so much culture here. I see it most living in Kutztown with the German heritage. We have really cool things here that need to be preserved. This area holds onto that culture. It needs to be passed along, or we lose it forever.

Q: What is unique about Berks Country Fest?

Berks Country Fest, in year three, is just getting its legs. Last year, we had 88 events in 14 days. This year, the fest is 17 days and even more events. It’s really a community festival; it includes music, arts, outdoor recreation and cultural activities. There’s something for everyone.

And it’s a community effort; everyone is pulling for it. It’s a kickoff to summer.

We “see” people through social media these days, so it’s good to see people out and about at community events.

Q: What’s your favorite moment from last year’s Berks Country Fest?

A: I was setting up at the DoubleTree one afternoon. I walked out of the hotel and saw G.E. Smith and members of the Blue Man Group jamming together at the community piano. I saw a father and his daughter watching, and told them who the musicians were, and suggested they get a picture with them, which they did. It was a cool moment.

Q: You’re a very busy person. When you do have free time, how do you like to spend it?

A: I like to be outdoors, hiking, biking or some activity. I attend community events and like to socialize with people.

So … if you see Alicia out and about during Berks Country Fest – which you most definitely will – be sure to say hi! She’ll be thrilled to meet you.

— Dana L. Hoffman

Demystifying the Crooked Road

While Berks County isn’t connected to the Crooked Road, music from the historic area will be when Music from the Crooked Road featuring Wyatt Rice, Claiborne Woodall and Glorylanders of New River Valley take the stage at Berks Country Fest.

If you’re anything like us, you didn’t know what the Crooked Road was, or why it had any relevance to Berks Country Fest. Well, here ya go: a few things to know about the Crooked Road.

 

What is the Crooked Road?

The Crooked Road refers to the 300-mile highway following Route 58 which connects the Blue Ridge Highlands to the Heart of Appalachia, both of which are famous for their contributions to country music.

 

Blue Ridge Highlands

There’s plenty of culture to take in along this historic stretch, but if you want to see where country music comes from, you have to take a trip to Bristol, Tennessee to visit the Country Music Museum.glorylanders

Berks Country Fest Talent Spotlight: G.E. Smith

Saturday Night Live, Hall & Oates, Mike Meyers, David Bowie and Berks Country Fest.G.E. Smith live at Berks Country Fest: An Americana Music Jamboree

Only G.E. Smith can tie these names together.

Born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, Smith started playing guitar when he was seven. By the time Smith turned 11, he was making money playing the guitar.

As Smith’s aptitude for the guitar began to grow, so did his career.In 1977, Smith earned a spot playing alongside Dan Hartman who he toured with in Europe. After returning home, Smith moved to Manhattan where he worked on Broadway in the show Gilda Live.

But Smith’s success continued as he would later join Hall & Oates as the lead guitarist. Smith toured with the band for six years before returning home and joining SNL as a music director. It was on SNL that Smith played with musicians like Eddie Van Halen, Keith Richards and Al Green. He also wrote the theme song to Wayne’s World while Mike Meyers’ future movie series was still just a sketch on SNL.

While Smith’s impact on rock music is cemented in his storied history, a true monument to Smith’s legacy is having his own Fender guitar model. Fender issued the G.E. Smith Fender Telecaster in 2007 to honor Smith’s accomplishments as a modern master of the telecaster.

With about 50 years of professional guitar-playing under his belt, we here at Berks Country Fest are thrilled to have Smith as a performer. Don’t forget to grab tickets on our website to see him perform live at Guitar-A-Rama.

Five snack aisle wine pairing suggestions

Five snack aisle wine pairing suggestions

 

I’ll be the first to admit I lack foresight when it comes to wine pairings. I’ve never been one to wrestle over selecting the perfect spiced meats, artisan cheeses, and locally-sourced pretzels to cozy up to my wine with. But I do like to keep a bunch of salty snack foods in my closet because, well, I could live off of the stuff.

I set out to try five of my snack food aisle favorites with some red and white wine in an effort to find some enjoyable and frugal pairings.

Now, I’m not saying these options will do anything crazy like successfully marry the spicy flavor of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos with the fruity overtones of MD 20/20. What I am saying is that these snacks work well with wine.

Oh, and if you like these suggestions, be sure to check out Berks County Wine Fest and SavoryFusion Wine Fest during Berks Country Fest.

Note: None of these snacks are sponsors; I’m just a fan. Also, these are in no particular order.

 

wine-bottles

 

Ritz Chips

I have no idea what Ritz is doing with these things, and frankly, I don’t need to. As far as I can tell, these salty treats are just fried crackers. And while you might have used them as a vessel for dipping, I can assure they are great when consumed with wine. I tried the Original flavor, but there is a variety of options to choose from.

 

Fire Roasted Tomato & Olive Oil Triscuits

If you’ve seen Triscuits in the grocery store aisle then you’ve seen the ludicrous amount of flavors they offer. I’ll admit I have absolutely no idea if these things taste like fire roasted tomatoes, but I do know that these lengthily named snacks go great with whatever wine you’re sipping.

 

Goldfish Crackers

WAIT, WAIT, WAIT. Don’t leave yet. I know this sounds weird, but it works. They’re pretty similar to regular crackers, and they do sort of fit the cheese cracker trend that’s become ubiquitous to wine-drinkers. They’re definitely not going to up your status symbol, but their ability to complement wine deserves to be noticed.

 

Cheez-Its

Goldfish made sense to me and so do these. With a variety of cheesy flavors to choose from, it’s not hard to envision the classic cheese-flavored cracker with your favorite glass of wine. I tried the Sharp Cheddar and Parmesan Cheez-It Duos with my red wine.

 

New York Style Bagel Crisps

They’re not exactly the fresh baguette taste you might be looking for, but they’re always sitting around my house. Crunchy and bread-like, bagel crisps can serve many purposes from being dipped to serving as a base for some hors d’oeuvres, and in this case, acting as a substitute for bread.