W hen it comes to Northeastern Pennsylvania, some might ask why. Others, such as Jon Henderson, might ask why not.
The producer at Goodtime Tricycle, an Atlantic City, N.J., company that puts on large-scale lifestyle events, used those exact words when asked why the area was chosen as host for the first Steamtown Beer and Music Festival at Toyota Pavilion at Montage Mountain on Saturday.
“We know Scranton has some partyers,” said Henderson, who grew up in Lake Wallenpaupack. “I think we nailed it. When we were at the Dave Matthews Band show doing promotions, I saw three people who had nothing to do with one another wearing our T-shirts from the Atlantic City festival, and I thought this really might be the perfect place for something like this.”
The festival will involve 50 breweries serving more than 200 beers plus live music from Fuel, The Menzingers, Muscle Shoal Revival, The Sunset Villains, Gabriel the Marine and Banquets as well as games and activities.
Goodtime is responsible for such events as the Average Joe Expo, the Atlantic City Seafood Festival and the Atlantic City Beer and Music Festival, the eighth of which took place in 2013. Approximately 22,000 people came to the festival, making it the second-largest event of its kind in the country.
“We’re taking all the moving parts and what we created in Atlantic City and bringing it to Scranton, but outdoors,” Henderson explained. “It’s an opportunity for the discovery and celebration of beers and the people who created them.”
Among the breweries to be discovered is Carbondale-based 3 Guys & A Beer’d Brewing Co. The company was founded in 2011 by Dave Oakley, Matt Zuk, Jon Bronson and Johnny “The Beard” Waering. Demand is high.
Sometimes, Zuk said, “We have trouble keeping up. Now this may be frustrating for some customers and to the owners as well, but in this current economic state, it is a good problem to have, and that problem is certainly earned.”
The Guys operation has put out a strong variety of beers, from Soul Patch Pumpkin Ale and the American-style Hefeweizen called Wheat the People to the new Loyalty Barber Shop Shaving Cream Ale. They plan to expand their business and have purchased larger equipment that will enable them to brew more beer. It should be in full use by year’s end.
The majority of 3 Guys beers are draft only, but the company is adding new brews to bottles as it continues to expand. Bottled now are Wheat the People, Ladder Dive Rye IPA and the American pale ale Carbond’Alien in bottles. Those creations, along with the Irish-style red ale Malarkey, will be available this weekend.
The festival also marks a sort of return to the area for Fuel, the band perhaps best known for hits such as “Hemorrhage (In My Hands),” “Bad Day,” and “Shimmer.” The band got its start not far from Northeastern Pennsylvania, even recording in the area in 1997.
While he now calls Los Angeles home, Tennessee-born singer Brett Scallions and the other members of the band that would become Fuel relocated to the more affordable Harrisburg in their early days. They recorded their second EP at C&C Recording Studio in Hazleton and named the four-song album after the city.
“I haven’t been in that area in quite a while, you know, but I remember making those recordings and stuff there. It was an interesting thing. It was pretty cool because that’s such a blue-collar area, and the people were so down-to-earth and just really good-hearted. It was a nice experience for us to go there and relax and just focus on the music,” Scallions said.
He left the band in the mid-2000s and rejoined Fuel in 2010 with a new lineup and new creative energy. The band has recorded 17 new songs for an album he hopes to release later this year.
Scrantonians can see that energy this weekend when Fuel performs a mixture of songs meant to take fans on a “fun roller-coaster ride.”