Oktoberfest Review: Hershey Harrisburg Craft Beer Country
Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending Central Pennsylvania Oktoberfest at the Hollywood Casino created by the new Harrisburg Hershey Craft Beer Country. It definitely was a blast with lots of friends to see and plenty of great local beers to try.
Breweries available for tasting included Pizza Boy Brewing, Troegs Brewing Co, Lancaster Brewing Co, Appalachian Brewing Co, Millbock Brewing, St Boniface Brewing, Brewery at Hershey, Snitz Creek Brewing, Bube’s Brewery, JoBoy’s Brewpub, and Market Cross Brewing.
VIP ticket holders scored early access (1 p.m. instead of 2 p.m.) and specialty beers from each brewery were available during the preview hour. My favorite of those was Brewery at Hershey’s Dracarys – a spicy dragonfruit and habanero pepper beer that was certainly one of the more unique beers served that day. Along with special beers VIPs also had some great complimentary food options as well as freaking sweet big ol’ beer mugs to taste out of for the day and keep as souvenirs.
Over the course of the day, I realized that my favorite offering came from none other than Pizza Boy Brewing. Their Hop Tart sour ale was a collaborative effort with The Vineyard at Hershey. This brew features spent grapes, which is the leftover grape skins that have been pressed for their juice in order to make wine.
Most wineries discard these but The Vineyard at Hershey sent theirs over to Pizza Boy to be added as their beer aged. The base beer features local fresh hops truly making this the most local-centric beer available — and in my opinion an incredibly tasty one — plus it’s pink!
Luckily this beer is still available, for now, at Al’s of Hampden in case you haven’t had the chance to sample it yet.
This first-annual Oktoberfest had more going on than just beer. There was a lovely Beetles tribute band, Number Nine, that played for a good portion of the day. Many times I found my dad and I singing along while we waited for our next brew to taste. But, the real main event was the Run for the Laurels – a special horse race at the end of the festival.
While I’m not a big gambler myself, I don’t mind betting on a horse race or two when I’m at the track. I’m one of those people who goes by the name not the odds, and for once this actually worked in my favor. The horse I bet on actually won! I felt so lucky afterwards that I proceeded directly to the blackjack tables to sober up a bit and enjoy the rest of the evening. I had never played black jack at a table before, only online, and found the staff to be incredibly polite and helpful as I eased into winning.
In the end, I left down just $40, but overall not a bad showing for a beer festival turned into a casino night.