Event Recap | Meeting of the Malts VI
On March 30, the Brewers of PA (BOP) hosted the sixth annual Meeting of the Malts. This event is a gathering of breweries from Pennsylvania and beyond to discuss the current state of the industry, as well as to celebrate their common passion: craft beer.
Meeting of the Malts was held at the ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks in Bethlehem, PA. The modern structure lies in the shadow of the now-dormant blast furnaces of the defunct Bethlehem Steel, and its exposed I-beams and other steel recall the industry that was once the lifeblood of the city. This venue was a perfect host for what would turn out to be a wonderful evening for all. There were more than 500 people in attendance including state legislators, craft beer industry professionals, members of the media and craft beer enthusiasts
Panel Discussion & Awards Ceremony
To start the festivities, the guests of honor seated themselves on the dais. Dick Yuengling (President of D.G. Yuengling & Son), Jim Koch (Co-founder and Chairman of The Boston Beer Company), David Walker (Co-founder of Firestone Walker Brewing Company), and Eric Wallace (President of Left Hand Brewing Company) took part in a panel discussion moderated by Bump Williams.
The panel discussed the current state of the craft beer industry, as well as various other topics. The most memorable moments came when the panelists told anecdotes about their early years in the brewing industry. Eric Wallace told the entertaining story of a beer delivery that went awry when his Jeep broke down in a snowstorm, and Jim Koch stole the show by spinning a yarn about his earliest attempts at finding a distributor for his beer.
About halfway through, the panel was briefly interrupted for the presentation of the BOP’s first ever Legislative Awards. These three legislators championed the causes of the Brewers of Pennsylvania in the state legislature and passed laws that will help the craft beer industry thrive in Pennsylvania. The recipients of the awards were Speaker Mike Turzai (Pennsylvania District 28 serving Allegheny County), Rep. Mike Tobash (Pennsylvania. District 125 serving Dauphin and Schuylkill Counties), and Sen. Richard Alloway II (Pennsylvania District 33 serving Adams, Cumberland, Franklin, York Counties).
Beer Pairing Dinner
As the panel discussion drew to a close, BOP President and Weyerbacher Brewing Company Production Manager Chris Lampe stepped up to the podium to offer a toast. The crowd raised a glass of Guildy Pleasure, a collaboration of the Lehigh Valley Brewers Guild, and the Meeting of the Malts Beer Pairing Dinner officially began. The meal consisted of four courses, each of which was paired with a beer from one of the panelists’ breweries.
First was an oversized meatball paired with Yuengling Lord Chesterfield Ale. The meatballs were barely gone when a mahi mahi ceviche arrived. The ceviche was served with Firestone Walker Union Jack IPA. The third course consisted of braised short rib with sweet potato mash and was paired with Travelin’ Light from Left Hand Brewing Company. Last, but not least, was a Tahitian vanilla panna cotta, served with Samuel Adams Rebel Juiced IPA.
Pennsylvania Brewpub Festival
Beginning at 9:30 p.m., the final activity at Meeting of the Malts was a tasting session. Everyone was in high spirits as they descended the spiral staircase toward the Pennsylvania Brewpub Festival. After an engaging panel discussion (and five beers with dinner), the revelers were all ready to cap off their night with even more fun.
This festival featured mostly small breweries and brewpubs from across Pennsylvania but the special guests from Samuel Adams, Yuengling, Left Hand and Firestone Walker also got in on the action. This brought the total number of breweries to about 20. Even though these larger breweries brought some high-quality beers to the table, the most memorable brews came from some of the lesser known companies. Here are just a few of those memorable beers:
Smokerla | Berwick Brewing
A good Rauchbier is a rare and wonderful thing, and Smokerla is no exception. The smoky aromas and flavor of this beer instantly transport you to the fire pit at your favorite campsite. A slight roastiness in the malts, joined with the smoke, warms your body and soul, while a tinge of hop bitterness finishes this brew off brilliantly.
Pitchfader | Round Guys Brewing Co.
Pitchfader is a beautifully crafted coffee brown ale. As soon as you raise the glass to your lips, a gentle coffee aroma becomes immediately apparent. Slight roast of the malt coupled with the roasty bitterness of the coffee is a simple, yet beautiful combination. The flavors in this beer will be able to satisfy even the most pressing need for a steaming hot cup. This is a perfect beer for sitting on the porch on a cool autumn morning.
Barrel Aged Sour On Cherries | North Country Brewing Co.
This brew is exactly what its name suggests. This sour ale was aged in whiskey barrels on top of cherries. It is beautifully tart. During aging, it picked up a lot of boozy and vanilla notes from the barrel but surprisingly little oak flavor. On the finish, you get the subtlest hint of cherry to bring the whole thing together. This beer was a wonderful surprise on a night full of wonderful surprises.
The night was truly one to remember. While it wasn’t a raucous festival atmosphere, it was still a lot of fun. If you are looking for an excuse to dress up and drink some really exceptional beer, you should definitely try to attend Meeting of the Malts next year. You will be glad you did.