When people grab a glass of beer this weekend at the Notre-Dame du Mont Carmel de la Saint-Barthélemy festival, they can shake hands with the farmers who grew the beans used to create it.
“It doesn’t get more local than this,” said Alquin Heinnickel, who joined Crabtree’s Vince Mangini and other local farmers to grow just under 2,000 bushels of barley and produce about 75,000 pounds of malt. It was then sent to All Saints Brewing in Hempfield, where owner Jeff Guidos used it to create St. Bart’s Festiv-Ale.
It will be on sale exclusively Saturday at the festival grounds behind the church in the Crabtree neighborhood of Salem.
Mangini is the value chain coordinator for the Pittsburgh nonprofit Food21, which helped start the initiative with $3,000 in seed capital, connecting with a handful of local farmers to shorten the supply chain for local breweries that have proliferated in the region.
“Everything went pretty well,” he said. “This will be our second year growing grain for local brewers, and we will be producing 16 oz. commemorative cups at the festival. And then once people buy the first cup, refills are $3.
Last year, Mangini teamed up with Guidos to brew Old Hanna’s Town Ale, based on a recipe created by Thomas Jefferson in the 18th century. He also literally got to watch it grow as he drove past the fields on his way to the brewery.
“This year we were talking about something light, crisp and easy to drink,” Guidos said. “The Festiv-Ale is about 4.4% ABV, and it has a nice light golden straw color.”
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Heinnickel wrapped up the barley harvest a few weeks ago, sending batches of samples for analysis to the Hartwick College Center for Craft & Food Beverage in upstate New York. Once it passes inspection, it heads to CNC Malting Co. near Butler, before being sent back to Guidos to complete an almost 100% local supply chain.
There are even additional advantages for Heinnickel, from an agricultural point of view.
“Barley is an excellent storage crop,” he said. “We can do a double crop – once we take out the barley, we can plant beans. It’s also a great cover crop, but you have to use it. This is where Vince comes in.
The festival will take place from 5 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Saturday.
There will be a 4 p.m. mass before the festival begins on Saturday.
Live entertainment will be provided at 7 p.m. Friday by Black Ridge and 7:30 p.m. Saturday by East Coast Turnaround, with fireworks to follow. There will be an art exhibit on both days, as well as food and more.
The church is at 2538 Route 119 in Salem.