A newly-launched event during Marietta’s annual Rivers, Trails, and Ales Festival is the RTA Beer Fest. Back for its 2nd year, RTA Beer Fest will feature over 15 regional breweries, a variety of local food trucks, live music, activities for the kiddos, and much more.

The first year of RTA Beer Fest packed 300 locals and festival-goers into East Muskingum Park to taste 42 beers available from 12 regional breweries. This year, 500 ticket holders will have the opportunity to choose from over 50 beers available from 15 breweries; the growth is an indication of the level of excitement produced by those passionate about support small business, local brewers, and unique community-based events like this one.

In celebration of good beer and great fun, Clutch MOV has partnered with the Rivers, Trails and Ales Festival to spotlight the 2019 lineup of participating Beer Fest breweries.

Brewery: Wooly Pig Farm Brewery

Location: Fresno, OH

Interviewer: Jeremy Stackpole, RTA Ales Director, with questions provided by Gavin Fury

Interviewee: Kevin Ely, Head Brewer and Owner, Wooly Pig Farm Brewery

When did the brewery open? Wooly Pig Farm Brewery opened in December of 2017.

On your website, you detail your head brewer’s journey from falling in love with classic German brewing and farm culture to the desire to transplant them to rural Ohio. In the time since embarking on this endeavor, to what extent do you think your vision has taken root in your community? Being the head brewer and owner (with my wife Jael Malenke) has been very rewarding. The local community has completely embraced the Wooly Pig and it has become a point of pride as well as a significant community meeting center. Also, the Ohio craft brewing community has been very supportive and helpful as well. It takes a village to build a brewery and our village is excited about our beer, atmosphere, and our place in the local community. Beer drinkers come from all around to enjoy our authentic rustic German-style beers at the farm. The beer garden on the farm is very conducive to enjoying our beer while visiting with your friends and family.

To anyone following your brewery, your momentum is apparent. You currently bottle select beers that you sell in the taproom. As you continue to develop, do you intend to distribute Wooly Pig brands throughout Ohio, or is drawing your customers to experience your location the true aim? Currently, our plan is to sell all of our beer out of the taproom. We hope that we can entice Wooly Pig supporters and fans to the farm to enjoy the beer. The beer will be fresh and flavorful and the pigs will be curly all good things.

Why do you feel the Rustic Helles is your best seller? I could probably write a rather long-winded essay to answer this question, but I will keep it brief. Helles is the most popular beer style in Southern Germany, Austria and several other beer-drinking regions in central Europe. It is a simple, refreshing, approachable and enjoyable beer to drink. It is a balanced beer style that is light in color, yet robust enough in character to keep the interest of any beer drinker. Our Helles is a Zwickelbier meaning that we serve it unfiltered and directly from our lagering tanks in the cellar.  It can’t get any fresher than that. Fresh is good and nearly always wins.

What role do your namesake Mangalitsa “wooly” pigs play in your business? More specifically, can we expect more delicious local pork products in the future and if so, what might they include? Will they be served at the brewery in lieu of a food truck or might they function as a second variety of packaged product? The Wooly pigs are part of our farm. They are unique and robust animals raised at pasture. We enjoy their presence and respectfully raise them in an idyllic environment. And, yes we do raise them for their especially flavorful pork. We currently sell simple Mangalitsa pork sticks at the brewery. We sell some of the newborns to other small farmers. We occasionally sell some of the pork to a local food truck to make a special dish for sale at the brewery. We will, very occasionally, have some Mangalitsa pork showcased in a local dinner hosted at the brewery. And finally, we will also on occasion sell some raw pork to take home and enjoy. It is a mix of modes, and it seems to strike a good balance for us and our visitors. We simply cannot raise enough Mangalitsa pork for all the Wooly Pig pork fans out there. Perhaps one day.

What draws you as a brewery to want to participate in RTA Fest? We are strong fans of outdoor play and recreation as well as good craft beer. RTA Fest represents these ideals clearly, so we are very excited to be involved with the festival. Our farm is located on the Tuscarawas River. We boat, fish, hike, play and thoroughly enjoy this river. If we had enough time we would row our beer down the Tusc to the Muskingum and on down to Marietta on the Ohio River. Again, perhaps one day.

The 2nd annual RTA Beer Fest will take place on Saturday, August 10th from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. in East Muskingum Park on Front Street in downtown Marietta, OH. Tickets are now on sale! More information can be found by visiting www.rtafest.com.