Pints for Pets continues to raise big bucks for Humane Society

Care for a pint and a poodle? An ale and an akita? A stout and a shorthair?

OK, so technically there are no actual animals allowed at Peoples Natural Gas Field during the Pints for Pets Brewfest this Saturday. But know that each brew you try supports our furry friends.

During its six-year history, the Pints for Pets Brewfest has raised more than $300,000 for the Central Pennsylvania Humane Society. The two sessions for this year’s event will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. and from 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday at the home of the Altoona Curve.

Like every year, this year’s Brewfest will feature bands while attendees walk around and try craft brews of all shapes and sizes. This year’s bands are Tree the Band and AC Express for Session 1 and Chris V. and the Stanley Street Band and R2B2 for Session 2.

“Tickets are selling very well,” said event chairman Rick Vanevenhoven. “It looks like we’re heading toward a record number of brewers. We usually have about 80, and we have 85 already committed.”

As in past years, the breweries are coming from all over the country, with some international tastes mixed in here and there.

“Some of the new [breweries] that we’re pretty excited about are: Six Point Brewing out of Brooklyn. N.Y.; Uinta out of Utah; Lagunitas, out of Pedaluma, Calif.; Indigo Imp out of Cleveland; and Evil Genius, from eastern Pennsylvania,” Vanevenhoven said. “And we have many, many others. We’re getting new ones added every day.”

The increased number of exhibitors has forced Pints for Pets to expand beyond the field’s concourse, he explained.

“We have had to expand our footprint by tenting the third base side, and we may have to get more set up,” he said. “So that’s a great thing.”

Vanevenhoven said that Pints for Pets is now the biggest craft brew event between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia – an event big enough that brewers can’t pass it up.

“The brewers tend to pick those brewfests where they get the greatest exposure,” he said. “Because we’ll probably see about 3,000 people on Saturday … they’ll get a lot of exposure. … And we’re drawing a lot of people from out of town now.”

One of the regular exhibitors at Pints for Pets is Sly Fox Brewing Co. of Phoenixville, Pa. The Philadelphia-area company has a production facility in Pottstown and its main facility and restaurant in Phoenixville.

“This is probably our fifth year attending,” Corey Reid, Sly Fox “beer ambassador,” said. “I think a big part of it is it’s a great brewfest. It’s an area we’d like to move into.

“Being that Philadelphia is our home market, a lot of people in that area aren’t as familiar with our brand.”

Reid said the baseball park is a unique location and adds to the appeal of the event.

“It’s the only time I’ve done a beerfest in a venue like that,” he said. “You have the room to spread around and mingle and it gives us the opportunity … to have conversations with customers.”

Reid says the brewery makes a lot of different types of beer, creating “45 to 50” batches last year. That kind of experimentation will be on display at Pints for Pets.

“This year I’m going to do three [varieties] – a pilsner, a pale ale and an IPA,” he said. “And normally I’ll bring something that’s a surprise – like a limited supply of some big, knock-your-socks-off beer.”

Vanevenhoven hopes for a “knock-your-socks-off” event each year and, so far, that’s what Pints for Pets has been. The event is sold out or nearly sold out each year.

“We do hit our maximum and we’re very careful to not exceed that,” he said. “If the event gets overcrowded, it’s not good for anybody. Last year, we had to shut down [sales for] the late session a day early. And I think we’ll have to do the same thing this year.”

That kind of popularity has been a boon for the Humane Society, which uses the Pints for Pets proceeds for its main operating costs.

“Last year, we raised $75,000 and this year our goal is $80,000,” Vanevenhoven said. “If we reach that $80,000, that’ll put us at about $400,000 over our six years.

“And that’s a lot of kibble.”

Mirror Staff Writer Keith Frederick is at 946-7466.