The Mars Brew Fest will bring more than 30 breweries, wineries, distilleries and vendors to downtown Mars this upcoming weekend.
Running from 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday, the festival proceeds will go to the Mars New Year nonprofit to benefit this year's Mars Exploration Celebration and gather funds for the next Mars New Year event in 2023.
The festival will take place downtown at Pittsburgh Street and Grand Avenue. Around nine food vendors will also be available, from local stores to walk-up food trucks.
“We have an expanded footprint (this year) because we're trying to be conscientious of people not being in too long of lines and have some distancing, so people can be careful with the ongoing concern about COVID,” said Mars Mayor Gregg Hartung.
“We think we're right in line with what would be a typical brew fest.”
Tickets will cost $30 in advance or $35 at the door.
Hartung said that around 200 people have already bought tickets online.
Online ticket sales are limited to 500 people, and the group expects a final turnout of around 1,000 to 1,200 people when accounting for day-of walk-up ticket sales.
“Whatever we sell online, we usually match or exceed in terms of walk-ups,” Hartung said.
Local home brewer Ken Scott will lead a booth in front of Salvaged PGH featuring eight different brewers from the Butler Area Society of Homebrewers (BASH), an organization dedicated to bringing together local independent brewers in the area.
“We are individuals that have an interest in home brewing, and we brew out of our houses, mostly in garages, or driveways on good days,” he said.
BASH has attended a number of recent brew fests in the area, including North Country Brewfest in Slippery Rock. The group usually brings their beers to around six events per year, although they have been less active this year due to the pandemic.
“Every indication is that Mars New Year was very popular and went well,” Scott said. “Typically, we try to go to brew fests that raise money for a cause like this one.”
Scott said that part of the interest in going to events for home brewers is to get feedback on the beer that they are making, and that they “get a lot of good responses,”
“When we first started out, we were the guys who were making the crazy, one-off beers with different flavors that made us stand out at beer fests,” he said.
“Now the breweries are making those kinds of beers because they've become so popular over the years, so a lot of us have started going back to making the original classic styles of beers because they're harder to come by anymore.”