Hops & Vines For Hunger PA Campaign Wrapup

The Hops & Vines for Hunger PA campaign that ran through the month of November 2023 is now over, and I can’t say enough about the outpouring of support I saw from the breweries and wineries across Pennsylvania.  This was my first time as a participating content creator for the campaign and I absolutely loved it!

What is Hops and Vines for Hunger? 

The Hops and Vines for Hunger campaign is a month-long statewide fundraiser in November that is developed for breweries and wineries to raise funds and awareness to support hunger relief in Pennsylvania. The campaign is aimed to be twofold by encouraging patrons to support their local wineries and breweries, while also supporting our neighbors facing and experiencing hunger.  Proceeds from the campaign will support Feeding Pennsylvania’s (www.feedingpa.org) food banks to serve Pennsylvanians experiencing food insecurity, with a portion going towards the development of nutrition, education, resources, created by PA Eats (www.paeats.org).  This additional designation towards nutrition education is aimed to highlight part of Feeding Pennsylvania’s mission to provide access to fresh nutritious food to our neighbors, facing hunger, but taking a step further, and promoting the fact that feeding people facing hunger, is about more than simply just providing nutritious food, but also providing resources, so our neighbors facing hunger, feeling empowered and supported so they can prepare nutritious meals for their families.

So how did the Hops & Vines for Hunger campaign translate into financial support?  Most of the participating businesses donated a portion of each pint of a specific beverage purchased in the month of November back to the Hops & Vines for Hunger PA campaign.  My goal as a content creator was to bring attention to those breweries and their brews – and get people out to drink them to support a great cause!

For my part, I spelled the words “Feeding PA” with images of the breweries (and their beers) that were supporting the campaign.  It was a blast!  Especially because I visited a few breweries I had never been to before – like Bald Birds Brewing in Audobon; Second Sin Brewing in Bristol; and Hares Hill in Pottstown – and had a great reason to return to some of my favorites like Forest & Main in Ambler, Hidden River in Douglassville, and Workhorse in King of Prussia!

Anyway, I hope that my Instagram campaign helped get the word out, and helped boost sales!  I’ll be looking forward to participating again next year! And remember – you don’t need a campaign or a beer to ease the suffering of our neighbors. You can support Feeding PA anytime simply by heading to Feedingpa.org and donating online!


The Brewholder 

Copyright 2023 – all rights reserved

Book Review: Oklahoma Beer – A Handcrafted History

Oklahoma Beer – A Handcrafted History

When craft beer fans talk about beer tourism, Oklahoma doesn’t usually come up in the conversation.  And that’s no insult to Oklahoma – that’s just the result of Prohibition-era laws that were still on Oklahoma’s books until 2016.  Oklahoma had a late start in the craft beer movement and Oklahoma Beer – A Handcrafted History by Brian Welzbacher, published by American Palate, is a fascinating read because of its focus on the modern brewing history of Oklahoma.

The first fifty pages of Oklahoma Beer covers from 1850 all the way to 1992; the remaining 100 pages outline in detail the struggles of homebrewers and craft brewers who attempted to achieve  success within the outdated “3.2 beer” and “No tours/tasting rooms” laws of Oklahoma through 2019.  Within Welzbacher’s book, the reader finds OK brewers’ stories of success, failure, innovation, frustration, and ultimately celebration in 2016.  While Oklahoma Beer is technically a history book, the experiences of these brewers documented here should be viewed as a “how to (or not)” guide for anyone looking to enter the craft beer market anywhere.

I throughly enjoyed Oklahoma Beer because when I first picked it up I had no idea about the history of brewing in Oklahoma, or the lack thereof. My initial disappointment that there was not a 150 year historical record however was quickly replaced with admiration for the modern Oklahoma brewer.  I highly recommend Oklahoma Beer for brewers who hope to open a professional operation some day in any market – and I have now added Oklahoma City to the top 5 of my “must visit” beer cities.

Oklahoma Beer is available on Amazon in paperback for $21.99 and on Kindle.


The Brewholder

Copyright 2022 – all rights reserved

About The Brewholder Brews – for the BreweriesinPA Homebrew Invitational

I am Matt Brasch, the brewer behind The Brewholder Brews. I’ve been homebrewing since 2013, and even with my first batch (an Imperial IPA), I was more interested in experimenting with flavors and recipes than trying to make the perfect clone. More “mad” than “scientist,” I have relied on my extensive network of professional and home brewers for tips and tricks along my homebrewing journey. During the pandemic, I expanded my brewing process from 5 gallon to 10 gallon batches and focused in on the American Cream Ale style – enhancing it with fresh fruit (locally harvested blueberries & peaches, limes, jalapeños, cranberries, orange) and of course, coffee!

I grow my own hops (Cascade, Chinook, Columbus) at my home in Upper Dublin Township, PA, and brew a harvest ale with them every September – “from bine to boil” in 24 hours. Recently, my hops crops have yielded enough for me to brew another batch in the Spring with the hops that I vacuum pack and freeze in the Fall.

I am a published beer journalist – if you’ve been around for a while, you may have seen my articles in the Mid-Atlantic Brewing News, PhillyBeerScene Magazine, and Ticket to Entertainment between 2013 – 2017. But now I spend more time reading beer-related books and posting reviews in “The Brewholder’s Library” on my website, thebrewholder.com.

“The Brewholder” concept was created to express my belief that the beauty of beer is subjective. I think that if a beer tastes great but it doesn’t meet a specific style guideline (think of Kveik a few years ago…), it doesn’t mean that it is undrinkable. In fact, it could lead to something new and amazing! That’s what The Brewholder truly stands for – if you like it, then drink it! Truly – whoever is holding a beer is the Brewholder…and beauty is in the eye of the Brewholder.


The Brewholder

Copyright 2022 – all rights reserved

Brewers Publications new release – Quality Labs for Small Brewers: Building A Foundation for Great Beer

Brewers Publications, the leading publisher of contemporary and relevant brewing literature for today’s craft brewers, homebrewers, and beer enthusiasts, will be releasing “Quality Labs for Small Brewers: Building A Foundation for Great Beer” on August 3, 2020.  Written by Merritt Waldron, author and Quality Director at Baxter Brewing Co. in Lewiston, Maine, this is a how-to guide for establishing a brewery’s quality program.  I’m looking forward to digging into it and posting my review in the Brewholder’s Library!

Here is the full press release:

Brewers Publications Presents: Quality Labs for Small Brewers: Building a Foundation for Great Beer

A how-to guide for establishing a brewery’s quality program

Boulder, Colo. • July 14, 2020 — Quality Labs for Small Brewers: Building a Foundation for Great Beer, the latest release from Brewers Publications®, emphasizes the importance of establishing a quality program for every brewery, no matter the size. Merritt Waldron, author and Quality Director at Baxter Brewing Co. in Lewiston, Maine, walks readers through a step-by-step process on how to execute a quality program at any brewery.

As many breweries across the country reopen following restrictions due to the global health pandemic, implementing policies, procedures, and specifications to directly influence the consistent production of safe, quality beer is more relevant than ever.

“Quality beer is essential to the success of any great brewery. This book ensures that only quality beer reaches the consumer, time after time,” said Waldron. “With the programs outlined in this book, breweries at any scale will be able to dive beyond the numbers and help pinpoint any risks or areas of improvement in their beer.”

Quality Labs for Small Brewers: Building a Foundation for Great Beer

Author: Merritt Waldron
ISBN: 9781938469633
EISBN: 9781938469640
Size: 8.5 x 11 inches, 296 pp
Format: Paperback
Cover Price: $95
Publication Date: August 3, 2020
Member Pre-sale July 14 – July 21, 2020: Brewers Association and American Homebrewers Association members receive a 30% discount.

With more than 60 titles to choose from, Brewers Publications is the leading publisher of contemporary and relevant brewing literature for today’s craft brewers, homebrewers, and beer enthusiasts. Brewers Publications supports the mission of the Brewers Association by publishing books of enduring value for amateur and professional brewers, as well as titles that promote understanding and appreciation of American craft beer.


The Brewholder

Copyright 2020 – all rights reserved

Book Review: Historical Brewing Techniques – The Lost Art of Farmhouse Brewing

Historical Brewing Techniques – The Lost Art of Farmhouse Brewing by Lars Marius Garshol is a historical adventure much like Jurassic Park; but rather than amber, history is re-discovered in creamy foam and bowls of unfiltered beer.  His adventure began in 2014, when Garshol, a native of Norway, homebrewer, software engineer and blogger, set out to explore the brewing traditions of farms in northern Europe.  This was no easy feat considering that farm brewing has all but been pushed to extinction due to many factors, including the rise of industry and the decrease of traditional agriculture, the lingering effects of World War II and the Cold War, and the commercialization of beer.

One of his goals was to get to the bottom of the mysterious strain of yeast that the commercial brewing industry is fascinated with – kveik. To understand kveik and other historical farmhouse brewing methods, Garshol visited those who are still brewing the old-fashioned way – the descendants of farm brewers.  Tucked away in the farthest reaches of Norway, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Russia, Garshol sought out and brewed with farm brewers who more often than not did not have a written recipe, they simply cut nearby juniper branches for infusions and relied on the feel of the liquid for pitching the yeast – when it is “the temperature of warm milk.”

During his brew sessions, Garshol attempted to apply science to these methods and logged data when possible (including temperatures, weight of ingredients, and original/final gravities).  He provides written recipes for them in Chapter Nine, but warns, “When brewing farmhouse ale, a good tip is to take a deep breath, lower your shoulders, and relax a bit. Try to forget all the things you think you know and instead let the tradition guide you.  Feel free to take the numbers seriously, but allow yourself some latitude.”

Historical Brewing Techniques is a fantastic read for those who are interested in learning from the brewing past.  Garshol’s hands-on research into traditional farmhouse brewing is truly a major anthropological project, and his efforts to publicize these techniques is significant from a historical standpoint. Garshol’s documentation of the science and history of farmhouse brewing is excellent, but luckily it does not read like a textbook because it is filled with his personal experiences – many humorous – with the brewers and their unique perspectives on brewing, and frankly, their lack of concern for meeting style guidelines.        

Historical Brewing Techniques is published by Brewers Publications, a Division of the Brewers Association, and can be purchased on the Brewers Association website for $24.95.   


The Brewholder

Copyright 2020 – all rights reserved

Book Review – “How To Drink”: A Lesson For the Ages

“How To Drink – A Classical Guide to the Art of Imbibing” is a modern translation of a social commentary written by Vincent Obsopoeus in 1536.  Alarmed by the rise of binge drinking, peer pressure and competitive drinking in sixteenth-century Germany, Obsopoeus (pronounced “Jobs? So pay us!”) argues that “moderation, not abstinence is the key to lasting sobriety, and that drinking can be a virtue if it is done with rules and limits” in a text inspired by the Roman poet Ovid’s “Art of Love.” 

This version of “How to Drink” was translated and edited by Cornell University Professor of Classics Michael Fontaine.  In the book’s introduction, Fontaine defines the meaning of critical words found in the book (“Bacchus,” “Flanerian,” and the names of drinking vessels used in 1536), and also provides context around who Obsopoeus was and the wine soaked world in which he lived.

Based on the foregoing description, you might assume that “How to Drink” is a judgy, academic text best placed on the reference shelf for another time.  But make no mistake – when you read Fontaine’s translation you will realize that when it comes to drinking, there is a striking similarity between America’s “drinking bro culture” and the society described by Obsopoeus almost 500 years ago. For example, I was surprised and amused by  Obsopoeus’s inflammatory descriptions of people you shouldn’t drink with – Buzzkills, Belligerents, Blowhards, Gossips, to name a few – and realized his words are just as applicable today as they were in sixteenth-century Germany. 

I found this book fascinating because Obsopoeus discusses social situations that he observed (and participated) in the 1500s – but his descriptions could be that of parties I’ve attended in the past 20 years!  I also enjoyed reading How to Drink because it stands for a simple concept proposed by the Craft Beer industry in their battle against macrobrew: beer should be enjoyed by all and in moderation (with occasional slip-ups forgiven) – not “pounded”, “shotgunned,” or “funneled” in excess to prove masculinity.

While I throughly enjoyed “How to Drink,” don’t worry if you don’t – Obsopoeus anticipated that some may disagree with his thoughts and provided his critics with this message:  “May the Bacchus (wine) you drink with that stupid, obscene mouth of yours prove joyless and unfun, you bastard!”  Man, I would’ve loved to chat with Obsopoeus over a few beers!

I recommend “How to Drink” for anyone who enjoys history, the social aspects of alcohol, and the fact that some things never seem to change through the ages!  “How to Drink” will be available from Princeton University Press on April 14, 2020 for $16.95 – order your copy here.


The Brewholder

Copyright 2020 – all rights reserved

A Sad Day in Pennsylvania – Stoudts Brewing To Cease Production

It was a sad announcement that was just released – one of the pillars of Pennsylvania’s craft beer community is ceasing operations.  Read the press release here

The press release explains that Carol Stoudt, the first female brewmaster since Prohibition, is retiring after years of helping the Pennsylvania craft beer industry to grow into what it is today.  While Carol is stepping away, it seems she might be interested in the right opportunity to continue the Stoudt’s legacy however, as she explained in the press release, “This was a difficult decision to make,” says Carol, “but we’re not moving enough volume to justify the expense of keeping the brewery open. However, we’re not closing the doors to any business opportunities that could help the Stoudts brand live on.”

I personally have many great memories of Stoudts – attending a beer festival there in 2003, annual dinners (and flights) at the Black Angus in December after finding the “perfect” Christmas tree in Lititz, and meeting Carol during the CBC in Philadelphia 2015 while enjoying an imported Pilsner Urquell.  Of course, I will truly miss her perfect German style beers like Stoudts “Munich Gold” and Stoudts “Oktoberfest,” as well as her specialty brews made for McGillin’s Olde Ale House in Philadelphia – McGillin’s Genuine Lager, McGillin’s Real Ale, and 1860 IPA.

Thank you Carol, and thank you Stoudts, for years of making traditional German beer accessible here in the Philadelphia area.  You will truly be missed.


The Brewholder

Copyright 2020 – all rights reserved

Book Review – Artisanal Small-Batch Brewing: Easy Homemade Wines, Beers, Meads and Ciders by Amber Shehan


Artisanal Small-Batch Brewing by Amber Shehan. Photo by Matt Brasch.

As a home brewer of beer for several years now, I have had my share of success, failure and mediocre 5 gallon batches.  And what happens when you are not happy with your creation?  You are stuck between drain pouring and feeling obligated to drink 5 gallons of a beverage you’re not really happy with.

Amber Shehan’s “Artisanal Small-Batch Brewing: Easy Homemade Wines, Beers, Meads and Ciders” was released on June 4, 2019 and provides several beer recipes scaled for 1 gallon batches.  Admittedly, I first scanned the index of the chapter entitled, “Grains and Gruits and Hops, Oh My!” The simple yet intriguing recipes in this chapter – including “Lemon-Pepper IPA” and “Blueberry Porter” – immediately caught my interest and had me thinking, “If I used a 1 gallon carboy, I’d be more excited for brewing experimentation!”

After reviewing the rest of the index, I jumped into the book at page 1.  While generally a recipe book, Amber’s passion for her craft seeps through the words and had me excited to try her mead, wine and cider recipes.   Compared to beer brewing, the other beverages are less labor and time intense, but allow for just as much creativity as beer.  

Several of the recipes shared by Amber made this homebrewer sit up in my chair and think, “I’m going to try this tomorrow!”  “Vanilla Bean and Chamomile Mead,” “Scarborough Fair Wine”, and “Dry-hopped Cider” are now on my short list of experiments in 2019.   In addition to recipes, the book also includes chapters on basic brewing techniques and non-alcohol recipes for spent grains, simple sugars, and vinegars. The superb photography of each beverage provides an encouraging invitation to the eye – “Come on, try to make this and you can drink it too!” 

I would highly recommend this book to both new brewers as well as experienced homebrewers who are looking for recipe inspiration.  Available on Amazon on Kindle (around $10) and paperback formats (around $20), this will be a great addition to your brewing library. 


The Brewholder

Copyright 2019 – all rights reserved

Tannery Run Brew Works Holds Soft Opening In Ambler, PA

Tannery Run Brew Works held their soft opening this weekend in Ambler, PA.  Named for the waterway that runs under the town, Tannery Run Brew Works has been long awaited by Ambler locals, being highly visible and serving samples of their brews during recent local events.

Tannery Run is located in the old Twisters studio on Butler Avenue in the heart of Ambler.   The redesigned space is filled with warmth, from the antique style lighting to the wood highlights throughout.   A mural depicting a water mill on one of the walls evokes memories of simpler times and the beginnings of Ambler Borough.  In anticipation of warmer weather, a garage door has been installed in the front wall, but for now it enhances the welcome feel of the space by bringing in more natural light to the room.

On the evening I visited, Tannery Run served six varieties of their beer – “Wild Horses” German Pilsner, “Premier” Pale Ale, “Blue Dragon” Belgian IPA, “Sympathy For The Devil” Belgian Tripel, “Leeloo Dallas” multigrain Pale Ale, and “Radio Diva” multigrain Belgian Ale.  Taken as a whole, the beers were enjoyable and lent themselves well to hearty discussions with friends over the course of an evening.  There were no experimental beer styles or strong flavors on the menu, which is understandable for a soft opening, but I would liked to have seen at least one adventurous brew.

Also on the menu for the evening were a variety of cocktails and wines, however, I  only drank their beer so I will defer any opinions to liquor and wine bloggers!

Tannery Run has a full kitchen and will offer items that complement their brews.   I tried two flatbreads – one had pork belly, onions, sesame, and pineapple with an Asian style sauce, and the other had goat cheese, figs, and balsamic onions.  Both had the right amount of flavor to enhance the beer – and make me want more!

All in all, Tannery Run Brew Works’s soft opening left me optimistic that there is space in Ambler for more than one brewery.   With some fine tuning on their food menu and brews, there is no doubt that Tannery Run will be able to carve out a comfortable place for itself in Ambler’s vibrant restaurant scene.  I look forward to returning soon to see the finished product!

Tannery Run Brew Works is located 131 East Butler Avenue, Ambler, PA. Their Grand Opening will be held on Friday, March 15, 2019, beginning at 12 noon.


The Brewholder

Copyright 2019 – all rights reserved

Brewery Ommegang Unveils New Look for 2019

Photo courtesy Brewery Ommegang.

This week, Cooperstown, NY-based Brewery Ommegang announced that it is embracing a new look this year. As seen in the photo above, Ommegang has rebranded its packaging. According to a press release from Ommegang on January 24, 2019:

Longtime fans of the brewery will find much to like in the new look, including some updated illustrations from years past and more prominent use of the harlequin design. The brewery logo has also been refreshed, and a re-imagined tap handle is making its way to market.

The release also explained that regular customers will still be able to recognize their existing beer – “Ommegang’s year-round beers now enjoy rich, vibrant colors and a clean, uncluttered appearance. The brand’s well-known harlequin pattern serves as a backdrop for a series of bold silhouettes…”. Meanwhile, “packaging for limited release beers employs more subtle colors and foregoes illustrations, allowing the name alone to describe what waits within. Similarly, labels for the Blenderie Ommegang series, available only at the brewery, are simple, elegant, and restrained – reminiscent of a fine wine.”

The new labels and packaging are being shipped now, so don’t be surprised when you see them on shelves and beer taps!


The Brewholder

Copyright 2019 – all rights reserved