Beer festival successful despite wet weather

Check off beer and wine as two of the things people will stand in line for in the rain.

About 1,600 people brushed off steady precipitation Saturday and didn’t complain — at least loudly — about the sizable lines to test a wide variety of brews, wines and ciders at the Wicked Wine and Brew Fest at Mel’s Funway Park in Litchfield.

Two tents provided shelter, but patrons still found themselves outside often to try new things or mingle.

Twenty-two breweries and wineries kept pouring sample cup after sample cup of their prized products with the hopes of hooking new customers. And patrons enjoyed sipping good spirits in the company of friends and friendly strangers.

“I’ve tried everything,” Bedford resident Leo Pepin said with a smile.

Pepin huddled with his family outside one of the large tents.

“I’ve had a little bit of everything,” said Kevin Pepin, a Weare resident who took a liking to Jack’s Pumpkin Spice Ale, a macro ale produced by Anheuser-Busch.

His wife, Vicki Pepin, pausing from a sampling of products, couldn’t believe the turnout despite the weather.

“Had it been a really nice day, I can’t imagine the turnout,” she said.

Kyle DiSimone kept getting wet as he darted several times from the tent to a Bellavance Beverages truck to restock the beer of Pennichuck Brewing Co. The Milford brewer saw its stock depleted several times.

By midafternoon, DiSimone had three cases left in the truck, and he worried about whether he could make it last to the end of the event.

The popular Pennichuck product seemed to be The Big O, he said. The lager is an Oktoberfest-style beer that smells like Vienna malt and caramel and has a fruity taste.

Wine also made its way into many of the glasses and plastic sample-size cups held by patrons.

Silver Mountain Cider and Wine, of Lempster, offered a smattering of its apple-based beverages. Everything is blended with an apple, and the company presses all of the fruits used in its ciders, company co-owner Cindy Brzezinski said.

“We press our own blueberries, raspberries and black cherries,” she said.

Brzezinski and her husband, Steve Miner, opened their business five years ago after they found themselves unemployed.

On Saturday, Brzezinski faced a large potential customer base as she, her daughter and a friend handed out tastes of hard cider, a black cherry apple cider and honey apple cider.

Outside the tent, Nashua resident Shawn Adams revealed his strategy to making the most of the day.

“I’m getting into the line that’s the shortest,” he said in between sips. “I’m getting my 20 dollars’ worth.”

His sister, Litchfield resident Heather Adams, usually doesn’t drink beer, but the occasion had her sipping a few in between wine.

“I’m trying it today,” she said.

Mel’s Funway Park sponsored the event along with Holloway Motor Cars,, The Telegraph and others.

Albert McKeon can be reached at 594-5832 or