On a Rainy Saturday, Beer Fest Brings Hoppyness to Manahawkin

Aug 15, 2018
Photo by: Ryan Morrill Oyster Creek Brewing Company lifts one up.

Brewery buffs braved the rain last Saturday, Aug. 11, for the annual Manahopkin Beer and Music Fest at Manahawkin Lake Park. Despite thunderstorms in the early afternoon, ominous clouds and what seemed to be an unrelenting drizzle, community members soldiered on in their slickers, determined to get their fill of local bites, brews and bands.

Manahopkin was free for non-drinkers, who were welcome to wander the park at their own will. Drinkers paid admission and received miniature mason jars to sample the diverse array of beer styles. Craft, food and drink vendors wound their way around the park, skirting the trees and shoreline in a path of goodies and homemade wares.

During bouts of rainless sunshine, event-goers sprang out from beneath their tents and trees, cautiously holding out their palms for rogue raindrops. But even moody Mother Nature and her weather swings couldn’t drive attendees indoors. Children rode the robotic bull, energized from sugary lemonades and fried carnival snacks; 21-and-overs waited in brewery tent lines with their tiny tasting mugs hanging delicately from their fingers; dogs panted at the ends of their leashes, taking in what must have been a sensory-filled scene.

Two stages on opposing sides of the park allowed local acts to swap in and out of the spotlight, taking turns in supplying the entertainment. In the early afternoon, Grateful Dead tribute group Lovelight Band performed on the Pavilion Stage, a spacious gazebo overlooking Manahawkin Lake. Simultaneously in the northeast quadrant of the park, a four-man cover band called the Rock Lobsters opened their set with a rendition of the National Anthem on electric guitar. Other acts included The Impulsives, Ted Hammock and The Pickles, Funk Shway, Mark Diomede and the Paul Baroli Jr. Band.

Food trucks offered anything from fried Oreos and risotto balls to jerky and organic juices. Attendees brought tents from home and planted them in open, grassy spots. Around 30 craft breweries set up shop on the lawn, corralled within sand fences like tufts of dune grass. The lineup included in-state and out-of state recruits. From New Jersey came Jughandle Brewing Co., Ship Bottom Brewery, Pinelands Brewing Co., Manafirkin Brewing Co. and more. Pennsylvania’s Troegs Brewing Co. was in attendance, along with Cigar City Brewing from Florida and Oskar Blues Brewery from Colorado. Drinkers milled from tent to tent, sipping from beneath their poncho hoods and placing their ballots to crown the first ever “ManahopKING,” an award recognizing the crowd’s favorite libation. Icarus Brewing of Lakewood took home the crown for its Power Juicer beer, a smooth bodied Imperial IPA with citrus notes.

All proceeds from the event went toward Stafford PBA’s Holiday Toy and Coat Drive, the Stafford PBA Scholarship Fund and local families in crisis. For more information regarding the event, visit https://manahopkin.com/.

— Sarah Hodgson

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