Beer festival brewing at Covelli

There are differences — both obvious and subtle — between beers.

The same can be said for beer festivals.

The Youngstown Beer Fest will be rolled out this fall with its own unique flavor: friendly and full-bodied with a complex taste and a refreshing finish.

It aims to provide afficionados (and not-so-afficionados) with a total “beer experience,” says Dominic Gatta III, organizer of the event.

The inaugural YBF, which was announced last week, will be Oct. 5 at Covelli Centre. Related events, such as food pairings with special-release beers, will take place at downtown restaurants in the days leading up to it.

The focus of the fest will be on the beer and the people who create it, said Gatta, plus the culture and activities of the brewing companies. Smaller craft breweries will be heavily represented, as well as larger import and domestic beer companies.

The main floor and concourses of Covelli Centre will be arranged so that there are wide aisles. Each beermaker will have a spacious area in which festival-goers can enjoy interactive displays and talk with the experts while sampling their brews. There will also be educational sessions and demonstrations from brewmasters.

At least 50 brewers will be on hand at YBF, each bringing two to four of their products.

Some of the larger global brewers — Gatta cited Italy’s Peroni — have expanded their brand to such an extent that they bring a display of corporate culture to beer festivals, marked by fashion and art.

Because the YBF will be in October, Gatta expects brewers will unveil seasonal beers, including Oktoberfest, winter ales and Christmas brews.

One thing that there won’t be at the YBF is live entertainment.

The focus will remain on the beer, conversation and maybe learning something fun.

“You don’t want to be talking to a brewmaster, and while he’s telling you a story, a group of bagpipers walks through,” said Gatta.

The YBF will have one session, from 3 to 7 p.m., with an inclusive admission fee of around $50. Patrons will get either a batch of tickets or a punch card to keep track of their sampling until the limit is reached. A VIP session from 1 to 3 p.m., which will include beer classes and other events, will be available at extra charge.

The beer-first philosophy, like the YBF itself, comes from Gatta. He has a strong appreciation for beer, especially the nuanced craft-brewed beverages, but also imports and domestics.

Gatta’s development company is currently rehabbing the Gallagher Building, on the corner of Commerce and North Phelps streets, downtown Youngstown. The street level will include a coffee-wine bar and also a high-end but casual dining spot. Both should be open by September, and Gatta plans to have beer tastings and meet-and-greet sessions there the week of the beer festival.

To learn more about Youngstown Beer Fest, go to

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