Williamsport Sun-Gazette May 12, 2002

Brewing for a Purpose

Annual Yeast Feast Helps Raise Funds for Environmental Groups

By Matt Hutchinson

Mixing the mash.

(This photo did not appear in the original article)


WOOLRICH - It started as a fund-raising idea 11 years ago and has turned into one of the region's most attended spring festivals. Several hundred people turned out Saturday afternoon for the 11th annual Yeast Feast at the Susquehanna Big Twins Club. Beer and bread was the theme, as participants sampled a wide variety of homemade food and beverage…

…One of the highlights of the Yeast Feast was a colonial period brewing demonstration by Richard Wagner, who showed onlookers how beer was made circa 1683 in the era of William Penn

Wagner brought along a handmade brewing system carved out of two logs which took six months to complete. After heating water in a copper kettle, he explained that the entire process takes six hours to do. Colonial brewing took a lot of time, he said, all without the aid of modern conveniences like thermometers, guages, and piping systems found in modern breweries.

"I give people as complete a picture as possible," he said, dressed in period costume.

After the demonstration was over, Wagner said he would ferment the final product and the brown ale he made would be ready to taste in about six weeks. In other exhibits he has done, Wagner actually dumped out the "unaged" beer before fermenting.

He said Saturday's product "will be the first time in about six years" that he has tried to ferment his "demo" beer. Wagner also said he expects Saturday's batch to be tasty.

Wagner, who has studied Pennsylvania beer history for the past 22 years, worked at William Penn's Pennsbury Manor historical site as a brewer. He also was an assistant brewer a the Manayunk Brewing Co. in Philadelphia.

George Spotts, of Pine Creek, said he was glad he attended this year's Yeast Feast. He was at other events at the bikers' club in past years. The Yeast Feast was held at Williamsport hotels for the past five years, however.

"I've acquired a taste for some of the stronger home-brewed beers," he said.

He said milk stout is one of the more unusual beers he has come to enjoy.