Dozens of rare, hard to find bottles of beer were lined up across several tables that had been pushed together at Mari’s Six Pac ‘N’ Mor. Several thirsty beer lovers stood eagerly waiting for the first bottle to be opened. Dave Walker Sr. popped a can of The Alchemist’s Petit Mutant to get things going.
Berks Beer Traders, the brainchild of David Arena, is an online group of local craft beer lovers. Prior to forming the group, David had a few good friends to talk and share beer with, but most of his friends were not much for anything outside of the more mainstream American beers. He had been attending tasting events for a few years and thought that a Facebook group would be a great means to meet similarly minded craft beer fans locally. His goal was to have a local forum to trade beer, case share, and share beer tasting information.
I have been a member of the Berks Beer Traders for a few months now, and it was nice to meet many of the members in person. Dave Walker Sr. hosted the event at Mari’s, and an impressive crowd turned out. Most people brought along at least 2 bottles to share, and the options did not disappoint. A Google spreadsheet was created prior to the event to see what everyone was planning to bring. The only criteria was that the beers should not be readily available in our area.
We started off with a Vermont theme, sharing many beers from The Alchemist, Lawson’s Finest Liquids and Hill Farmstead. Elaborative #2 by Hill Farmstead was one of the beers I brought along, and the American Wild Ale brewed with pumpkins and aged in wine barrels did not disappoint. Lawson’s Fayston Maple Imperial Stout was a favorite of many, as was the wonderful hoppiness of The Alchemist’s Focal Banger.
California beers were well represented with Drake’s Hopocalypse, Port Brewing’s Santa’s Little Helper, and two beers from a brewery I had never heard of – Belching Beaver from Vista, CA. The Beaver Milk Stout and Peanut Butter Milk Stout were quite delicious.
Another stand out beer was Founder’s Frangelic Mountain Brown, part of their Backstage Series, brewed with hazelnut coffee. We also sampled Founder’s Curmudgeon’s Better Half. A 2010 bottle of Three Floyd’s Dark Lord, the Imperial Stout, also made it to the show.
There was also an abundance of imports including Brasserie de Blaugies La Moneuse, Oerbier Special Reserva, Unibroue’s La Terrible, Brasserie Fantome’s Brise-BonBons, Mikkeller Porter, MOA Breakfast, and of course, a bottle of 2012 Cantillon.
My absolute favorite beer of the night was The Bruery’s Chocolate Rain. This beer is The Bruery’s infamous Black Tuesday with Vanilla Bean and Cocoa Nibs. A few members of the Berks Beer Traders are members of The Bruery’s Reserve Society, giving us a chance to try this sought after beer. Upland Brewing’s Malefactor and Cisco Brewers’ Pechish Woods were two other stand outs for me.
There were so many other delicious beers at the table, as everyone was so generous with their offerings. A few of the homebrewers in attendance also shared their own brews. Thank you to Mari Vaccaro and our friends at Mari’s Six Pac ‘N’ Mor for hosting us, and thanks to Dave Walker Sr. for putting it all together.