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Beer and wine tasting festival goes over smoothly

July 25, 2009|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

HAGERSTOWN -- Hops are a natural at a baseball stadium -- but grapes?

The Hagerstown Suns added wine to this year's beer-tasting festival to see what fans thought.

Reed Hunley, the team's director of promotions and special events, said the Suns might hold a wine tasting and figured this was a good way to start.

So, along with about 90 types of beer available at Municipal Stadium on Saturday, patrons had a chance to sample 16 types of wine.

Tickets were $15 in advance or $18 at the gate. Each ticket came with a five-ounce tasting glass and 10 tickets, good for 10 samples.

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The price was pleasing for Steve and Alice Tanner of Waynesboro, Pa.

Steve Tanner, a teacher, said he's been to beer festivals that charged $25 for five samples.

After living in Germany, where Steve Tanner was stationed with the military, the couple found it hard to adjust to American beer -- thus, their interest in beer festivals and microbreweries.

"We're beer snobs," Steve Tanner joked.

Of the beers he tried Saturday, he said he liked Brooklyn Lager best for its taste and aroma.

Alice Tanner was partial to Maredsous, a Belgian abbey ale.

Erica Tinsley of Hagerstown won three free passes to the festival through a radio contest. She brought Misty Ballou of Cumberland, Md. They cashed in the third pass and split the tickets, giving them extra samples.

Tinsley enjoyed Abita Brewing Co.'s Purple Haze.

"It's fruity," she said.

"Light and crispy," Ballou added.

"And it's delicious," Tinsley concluded.

Jeri Lynch, who works for the Suns, watched over the Clipper City Brewing Co. table. She said women took a liking to Peg Leg, a stout with a chocolate-coffee flavor. Men preferred Small Craft Warning, a pilsner.

At the wine booth, the Casabella House Jam red and Donna Cristina, a pinot grigio, were the most requested.

All of the wines at the booth were from California, except Yellow Tail, from Australia.

Debbie Bilski, whose son is the Suns' director of food and beverage, said more people stopped at the wine tent, where she volunteered, than she expected.

This was the fifth time the Suns held the festival.

It originally was scheduled for Thursday, but was postponed because of the threat of bad weather.

The sun was out Saturday for the first half of the festival. Midway through, a brief rainstorm made patrons hurry for the cover of the stadium's beer garden. They came back out, and drank some more, when the rain subsided.

Hunley wasn't sure how many people attended, but said 200 tickets were sold in advance.

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