Raise a glass

Tara Enedy and a group of her friends have been going to the Central Pennsylvania Humane Society’s Pints for Pets Brewfest since it began seven years ago.

“Initially we went because we heard it was a fundraiser for the humane society,” the Hollidaysburg resident said.

“But now we go for the beer,” she added with a laugh.

Enedy, 41, described herself as “a wine drinker,” but said Pints for Pets had opened her up to a lot of beers that have made their way into her refrigerator. Two of her favorite discoveries were Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy and Angry Orchard’s line of hard ciders.

“I always find something new that ends up in my regular rotation [of purchases],” she said.

There will be more beers to try than ever at this year’s Pints for Pets, presented by Servicemaster by Ryan, scheduled for May 10 at People’s Natural Gas Field in Altoona. This year’s event – once again held in two sessions, from 1 to 4 p.m. and from 6 to 9 p.m. – featured 99 different brewers at press time, most of whom will bring several beers.

“We’re looking at probably a record number of brewers,” said Rick Vanevenhoven, the event chairman. “We’re approaching 100, which would be a record. …

“I’d say we’re the biggest brewfest in central and western Pennsylvania at this point.”

Each year, the event has brought in more money for the humane society.

“We raised $90,000 last year. Our goal is $100,000 this year, which would be another record,” Vanevenhoven said. “A lot of people think that’s a tremendous amount of money, but that actually just supports the shelter for one to two months.”

The event’s goals should be in reach, considering the event gets more popular each year.

“Our attendance last year was just under 3,000,” Vanevenhoven said. “We have expanded our footprint again this year. We’re not just going down the third base line, but we’re expanding down the first base line this year. So we’re expecting more than 3,000 people this year.”

But the Brewfest organizers are very careful each year to not try to grow too large.

“We have to very carefully monitor the number of people,” Vanevenhoven said. “We do limit our ticket sales so it doesn’t get so crowded as to limit the enjoyment of the event itself. If you can’t get to the beer, what’s the point?”

This year’s exhibitors include a number of smaller brewers – including brew pubs (restaurants who have their own breweries) and “nano-brewers.” Vanevenhoven defined nano-brewers as individual brewers who produce only very small batches.

One new attendee this year is the Robin Hood Brewing Company, based in Bellefonte. Robin Hood Brewing grew out of the Bellefonte and State College restaurant Home D Pizzeria, a Centre County fixture for decades.

“We had a game room in our Bellefonte location and looked at the revenue that was generating and thought it was a great place to put in the brewery,” said Kelly Swisher, director of sales and marketing for Robin Hood Brewing. ‘We basically opened up last November. We have a seven-and-a-half barrel brewing system.”

Despite the brewery’s youth, they’ve already produced many beers and will be bringing four varieties to Pints for Pets – King Richard Red Ale, Bulls IPA, LJ Lager and F. tuck Porter. Pints for Pets will be the brewery’s first chance to exhibit outside of its own restaurants.

“This one will be our first [brewfest],” Swisher said. “We’re really excited, especially because of the proximity.”

This year’s Pints for Pets will be much like the years before with brewers lined up and down the ballpark concourse and music played by local bands. This year’s bands are Tree and Body & Soul for the first session and Locked and Loaded and Chris Vipond and the Stanley Street Band for the second session.

“The formula works, so we don’t want to mess with it,” Vanevenhoven said.

And it’s a formula that brings Enedy and her friends back each year.

“It’s really so much fun to try all those different beers,” she said. “The brewers are so friendly and are willing to talk to you for a long time. I always run into people I know … It’s like the best small town bar ever.”

Mirror Staff Writer Keith Frederick is at 946-7466.