Local brew gets its due at Berktoberfest in Pittsfield


Editor's note: This article was updated on Oct. 2, 2016, to clarify that Eric Kerns is the manager and co-founder of Bright Ideas Brewery in North Adams. Chris Post is the head brewer of both Bright Ideas and Wandering Star breweries.

PITTSFIELD — From about 6,000 years ago, when people first started making beer, until about 50 years ago, according to Eric Kerns, manager and co-founder of Bright Ideas Brewery in North Adams, "all beer was local. Before national distribution, that's how it was done."

The annual Pittsfield Berktoberfest, held Saturday afternoon in the McKay Street parking lot, has been endorsing that local aspect of beer for the past nine years.

But that is not the only reason, said Kerns.

"People are generally more interested in knowing what they're consuming these days," he said.

"An event like Berktoberfest, he noted, "is great for people who enjoy craft beer. There is no brand loyalty. People come here to try new things."

"It's a lot better than drinking Budweiser," said David Toomey of Pittsfield. "That's why you come to events like this. There's always something you can find that you like."

The event featured a total of 15 breweries, including Big Elm Brewery in Sheffield, Barrington Brewery from Great Barrington, Bright Eyes from North Adams, Wandering Star Craft Brewery from Pittsfield and Glass Bottom Brewery, formerly of Lee, now from Holyoke.

There were also breweries from other parts of western Massachusetts and Vermont, as well as Sam Adams Brewery of Boston, perhaps the most famous craft beer in New England.

From Stowe, Vt., for example, there was the Von Trapp Brewery, out of the Von Trapp Lodge in Stowe. The brewery and lodge were originated by Johannes Von Trapp, youngest of the famed Austrian Von Trapp family featued in the movie "The Sound of Music." The beer is pretty good, too.

"We wanted to keep it regional," said Nate Giles of Pittsfield, who organized the event with his wife, Tish Giles.

In addition, said Tish Giles, local restaurants provided food, while local bands performed throughout the afternoon.

The couple was hoping for 600 to 700 participants, said Tish Giles. This was their first year running the event, which itself is in it's ninth year. All proceeds went to two local nonprofits, Moments House and the Elizabeth Freeman Center.

"I think just about everyone likes beer," said Nate Giles. "We do this to support local businesses."

"When you talk about craft beers," said Bethany Cox, who was representing the Barrington Brewery, "you're talking about local businesses, local ingredients, local people employed there. It's a very localized industry, and it's why people support it."

Cox said events like Berktoberfest, "get me excited. Every time this comes around, I want to go to see what everyone's been doing."

Contact Derek Gentile at 413-496-6251.


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