Dr. Alison Feeney has recently published and released a book, called For the Love of Beer: Pennsylvania’s Breweries (clicking the link will take you directly to the book page on Amazon where you can purchase the book). In celebration of this and to kick off the Harrisburg Book Week and Festival she spoke (alongside Hannah Ison of ZeroDay Brewing Company and Jeff Mussleman of The Millworks) at the Mid-Town Scholar. The speakers talked from 7PM to 8PM with a beer tasting before hand from 6:30-7PM and afterwards from 8-8:30PM (times being rough estimates). Dr. Alison Feeney also signed copies of her book purchased at the Mid-Town Scholar. The Facebook event listing can be found here: For the Love of Beer – Speakers Conference and Symposium.
Dr. Alison Feeney is the professor of geography and earth science at Shippensburg University. A press release from the university about her book can be found here: Dr. Alison Feeney Releases a New Book. Shippensburg University has started up several courses and classes based on brewing, home brewing, the science behind brewing and making beer, as well as many adult classes (enrichment and for the work force and industry) based around beer and brewing. They were given a $70K grant to “boost beer brewers” and provide the education to make this possible. This grant was given by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB). To learn more about their brew science you can click here for the inquiry form to receive information. They are serving both the industry with these classes as well as home brewers looking to better their own craft for their own enjoyment. Shippensburg University cultivates future brewers : Home Brew Course Success. A listing of their courses, online information, and Shippensburg created articles about their brewing programs and classes can be found here: Shippensburg University Brewing Education.
So there is a lot to be excited for with the brewing future thanks to Shippensburg University and with Pennsylvania being such an integral part to the craft beer and brewing industry as a whole there is much to be excited for with the future of the hundreds of breweries in Pennsylvania. If you’ve been to just a few breweries in Pennsylvania, it might feel like you’ve been to a lot, but I guarantee you haven’t even scratched the surface. Pennsylvania is currently home to 300+ breweries and it is constantly a number in flux with openings, closings, and expansions. Thankfully there are far more openings than closings, but sadly there is some closings. Some websites and groups like Breweries in PA keep an updated list and map of all of the breweries in Pennsylvania operating.
The back of the book, as well as the Amazon description for Dr. Alison Feeney’s book is:
“Pennsylvanians have enjoyed a long, rich love affair with beer. The state not only ranks first in the nation for the number of barrels produced but the breweries, beer, and their craftsmen all have interesting stories to tell. This book examines Pennsylvania s brewing history, geography, and cultural richness while highlighting over 100 of the states thriving craft breweries. It explains some of the enjoyable stories and local legends behind the naming of beers, while detailing the unique buildings and architectural treasures that contribute to the renovation of urban areas and revival of small communities. Short descriptions of each brewery provide the reader with an understanding of which brewers use local hops, fruits, and grains in their recipes and how proceeds support local rail trails, waterways, animals shelters, and community events. From long-lasting breweries that survived Prohibition to the most recent openings with upscale food and cutting edge technology, this book describes how craft breweries in Pennsylvania have something to offer everyone. Set out on the road and record your visit to each brewery and enjoy first-hand facts about local breweries with someone who lives, works, and studies this fascinating and dynamic industry. “
Dr. Alison Feeney’s biography on Amazon reads:
“Alison Feeney is a Professor in the Geography and Earth Science Department at Shippensburg University. She earned B. A. degrees in both history and geography from the University of Connecticut, a M.S from Portland State University, and a Ph.D. from Michigan State University. She truly loves to blend work with pleasure as she travels around Pennsylvania to research breweries.
When she is not working she enjoys time with her friends and family riding bikes, playing tennis, snowboarding, kayaking, and learning to sail. Her passion for coral reefs leads her on several trips to the Caribbean each year to scuba dive and kill invasive lionfish. “
Just like most people, I love hearing people in an industry speak and talk about their industry. Shows like Seinfeld’s “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” and things like that are fascinating to me. To hear those who create discuss their creations, and those who do discussing their …. doings. So getting to hear Dr. Alison Feeney, Hannah Ison, and Jeff Musselman discuss their works and creations and their businesses (writing, brewing, owning a brewery), was a definite must for me.
I dropped my youngest off at her cheerleading practice at 5:45 in Hummelstown (don’t worry, her grandparents were picking her up, she wasn’t going to get left there), and I then went downtown. Arrived and parked by Mid-Town at about 6:15 (slow and go on I-83 due to the rain). Checked out the Mid-Town Scholar’s Tent Book Sale (which is going on today; Friday – as well as Saturday and Sunday). After finding a few books (I could literally buy thousands if I really had the energy to, but decided on just a few) I purchased them and then took them back to the car before heading over to the Mid-Town Scholar itself. Got inside around 6:30 and went up to the sample table immediately. Grabbed the Oktoberfest by The Millworks to begin my browsing of the store (my first time ever being inside it). Independent bookstores are such a low-level thrill (ok…. big high level thrill, but it just doesn’t sound as cool to say) for me. Browsing through endless aisles and tables at places like this, like The York Emporium, or at independent bookstores at beaches, is just love. Independent bookstores are losing more and more to the tide of places like Amazon, Wal-Mart, etc. in a similar way to how craft breweries have to constantly fight against InBev and Miller Coors; small independent bookstores have to fight against these giants. Sadly, where craft beer is doing pretty well (as a whole) against their large titan competitors, independent bookstores aren’t. So we all need to shop local, shop independent, shop individual, shop craft, over macro, over major, over non-caring owners, over-CEOs raking in $8Billion a year for themselves while paying employees 8.50$ an hour with minimal benefits.
(Ok, small rant over. Stepping down from my soap box.)
Grabbed another sample, this time “When Did We Get a Dog?” by ZeroDay. I had the watermelon version of this recently (at the RenFaire Brewfest). I then made my purchases (picked up Dr. Alison Feeney’s book, as well as The Rebel by Albert Camus, since I read it back in high school, loaned it out to a friend, who promptly lost it, and I’ve been meaning to give his canon and collection a re-read, so might as well start with lost Camus). I then grabbed a third sample – Single Hop Series #11 – Citra Hops – by The Millworks, and took my seat, third row to the right.
A worker for Mid-Town Scholar introduced the panel (sitting from left to right – Sara Bozich, Dr. Alison Feeney, Hannah Ison, and Jeffrey Musselman), and introduced the Harrisburg Book Week Festival, and discussed the slew of speakers they were having over the next several days, and mentioned the book sale tent outside, among other things.
Sara Bozich then took over as moderator and ran the panel (I guess panel is better term for it, than conference, or symposium, or motley crew, or whatever terminology one might use). She began introducing the members on the stage and discussed Dr. Alison Feeney’s work at Shippensburg and a barebones description of the book.
Sara Bozich asked several questions of the panel that related to central themes to breweries and those in the book; like community, revitalization, diversity, the beer itself, and breweries in general.
Hannah and Jeff then talked about some future projects for their breweries and themselves (Hannah soon welcoming a child into the world, December due date; Jeff with The Millworks opening a second location in Camp Hill, hopefully spring 2020).
After about forty minutes or so of the panel they opened it up to an audience Q&A to close out the last twenty minutes. There was a wide range of questions during the Q&A. Topics ranging from women in the work force, diversity, things to know about as a brewer (like any head brewer will tell you, the job is mostly sanitation, cleaning, cleaning, cleaning), the new Pennsylvania brewery tax, Untappd, favorite beers/breweries/styles, and the last question went out to a woman who talked about community displacement. Like breweries coming in and displacing the current population. This possibly provided the most interesting question of the night. Dr. Alison Feeney discussed how Yards opening their giant new production and tap facility in Philadelphia, where once was a very urbanized and African-American central area, now has very few African-Americans, and that the lines into the brewery are predominantly white people (typically white males). Jeff discussed how despite what they are doing, craft beer is essentially a completely luxury, even moreso than macro beer. That beer in general is a luxury item, craft beer especially so. Where a pint might run 6-8 or even 10 dollars, compared to Bud Light or Miller Lite or Coors Lite always being 2-4$. And unfortunately there is no easy answer to this. Its a fine line to create a new thriving business where something didn’t exist before, and as much as a place (be it a brewery or any new business) wants to identify and become one with the community, there is going to be a change with that new business going in, and that business will already have its own clientele established before opening its doors, and that might not align with the local community one hundred percent.
After the Q&A the Mid-Town employee went over the panel one last time, and talked about the weekend’s events again, as well as brought up the beer tasting and book signing to follow.
During this part of the tasting I had the Watermelon When Did We Get a Dog?, the Mango Habenero staple from ZeroDay, and one last Oktoberfest while standing around chatting with Dr. Alison, Hannah, and Jeff.
Saying goodbye to the panelists (and their respective special persons) I dropped my books bag off at the car and walked a block and a half over to The Millworks brewery and enjoyed myself a flight of some of their recent beers, including two ‘PA Preferred’ beers, just discussed during the panel.
This was a wonderful two hour (ish) event with dedicated individuals who wanted to talk about their works, be it the author – Dr. Alison Feeney – or the brewers – Jeff Musselman and Hannah Ison or Sara Bozich who has helped collaborate and set up the Harrisburg Beer Week as well as many other events and activities in the Harrisburg area. The dedication, interest, and love for their work and the works of others, and for community, and for what craft beer and brewing can stand for was evident from all, and it showed in their talks.
I highly recommend picking up For the Love of Beer by Dr. Alison Feeney, I’ve begun reading it (started there at the bar at The Millworks) and I’m currently about thirty pages in (don’t worry, there will be a book review on here when completed), and I am enjoying it, and it is very informative.
Please keep checking out the blog, make sure you like, subscribe, follow, comment, etc, we have a lot of exciting things coming out in the upcoming days, some even sponsored by breweries and lots of fun events. So make sure you keep up to date and check in on us daily, as we are looking to be posting daily!
Until next time, keep the brain sharp with books, and the liver busy with beer!