The idea for Ok-Tea Beer-Fest arrived at the most fitting time: happy hour. Owner of Tupelo Honey Teas, Danielle Spinola, wanted to mix her love of beer, tea, and the Oktoberfest spirit.
With food, music, booths, and room to roam, Ok-Tea Beer-fest is set up like the German festival, but with beer-infused tea.
“We got two blocks of Grant Avenue shut down,” says Spinola. “It’s going to be a party in the street.” Sprezzatura, Howard’s Pub, and Cousins Lounge will offer German-style food, with vegan alternatives provided by Tupelo. Yetter’s Candy is making beer milkshakes. Evans City beverage start-up Té Amo is bringing non-alcoholic Peruvian tea, a recipe that goes back three generations. And, of course, there will be gallons of tea beer and cider.
To create the beverages for Ok-Tea Beer-Fest, Spinola gave tea to the involved brewers, who then produced tea-infused beer that were returned to Tupelo. The concept is donation-based, and the money raised from the purchase of samples goes to The Gardens of Millvale, which lost a majority of its crops during the flooding in July.
Spinola explains the event “is free to come to if you’re not sampling beers, but in purchasing a cup, you are supporting the garden.”
This communal assistance is one of the reasons Naomi Auth of Red Star Kombucha, which is providing collaboration cocktails with Double L bar, is excited to be part of Ok-Tea Beer-Fest this year.
“Millvale is such a strong business community, and they’re all so supportive of each other,” she says.
Spinola sat down with each brewer to discuss what kind of beer they envisioned. Michael Sturges of A Few Bad Apples, which specializes in cider made from foraged fruit, was given one called Simple Pleasures to pair with quinces he picked from Spinola’s backyard.
“I asked if she had any fruit on her property, 'cause that’s the beauty of what we do with the cider thing,” says Sturges. “There’s such an availability of fruit everywhere this time of year, and it just goes to waste.”
A Few Bad Apples will have eight different tea-inspired ciders at Ok-Tea Beer-Fest. Local home brewing clubs T.R.U.B. and T.R.A.S.H. will also be providing tea-infused concoctions: Caramel Rooibos Red Ale, Earl Grey Dry Saison, Raspberry Rose Wheat, and Peaches and Cream Ale are amongst the offerings. The beers crafted are explicitly made for the event and are not available elsewhere.
As Spinola put it, “These guys bring five gallons, and when it’s out, it's out.”
Follow staff writer Jordan Snowden on Twitter @snowden_jordan