Sandy Reda runs the annual Big Tap In beer festival, which bills itself as the largest craft beer festival between Cleveland and Pittsburgh. The event is Saturday at the Covelli Centre in downtown Youngstown. Reda also helps run Vintage Estate Wine and Beer, rated as one of the best beer stores in Ohio.
Question: Behind the scenes, what’s the biggest challenge in organizing a beer festival?
Answer: One of the biggest challenges with planning a beer festival is working with logistics of the venue. Set up is sometimes difficult due to not knowing traffic patterns etc.
Q: This is the third annual The Big Tap In. How do you keep the event fresh for folks who come every year?
A: We add new beers, new food vendors and new entertainment. We are always looking to have a WOW factor present. Wait until you see what is in store for April 21, 2012!
Q: Do you have a particular sampling strategy or advice for people attending a beer festival?
A: We post the beer list on-line and give each attendee a beer list at check-in. This year, we will also have a WebApp for attendees to manage their beer list. Attendees should know what they want to try and go to those beers first. Big Tap In is a marathon, not a sprint. Beer festers should hydrate, eat food and pace themselves.
Q: So what’s new this year? And feel free to talk about the exclusive beer you made with Cellar Rats Brewery for the event.
A: Phill Reda from Vintage Estate Wine and Beer, major sponsor of The Big Tap In, worked with the good people at Cellar Rats Brewery to brew the first Big Tap In Beer. They have named it Bitchin' Bourbon Barrel Ale. It's a bourbon barrel ale made with real 100 percent Ohio maple syrup, pure vanilla beans and premium malts. Also new this year is the addition of hard ciders to the beverages served at the Big Tap In. Oh, and all of the Ohio breweries will be easily identified by an Ohio state flag -- which will be very cool.
Q: The Big Tap In benefits the nonprofit group Making Kids Count. How and why did you hook up with that charity?
A: Look at their website, www.makingkidscount.org! They have birthday parties for children in shelters, they bring baskets to newborns who have parents that need a little extra financial support. They are a 501(c)(3) organization in the Youngstown area that touches the lives of many children. They also touched my heart with their mission and this is why we are working with them.