By Jim Cyphert
Not getting noticed when visiting about any craft beer hotspot in the Mahoning Valley with Phill and Sandy Reda is virtually mission impossible.
The Redas have been instrumental in development of the burgeoning craft-beer scene here.
They’ve touched the lives of thousands of craft-beer lovers throughout Columbiana, Mahoning and Trumbull counties.
And they’ve made friends who stop to say hello everywhere they go.
After a five-year hiatus, the Redas are bringing back their signature event in 2019.
The Big Tap In 6 will take place Saturday at the Metroplex Expo
Center, 1620 Motor Inn Drive in Liberty.
“The craft beer scene here is awesome,” Phill Reda said. “We’ve met some amazing people through craft beer, and we can’t wait to see many familiar faces again.”
The event will feature international, national, regional and local craft beers. There’ll be a mix of styles ranging from New England and Brut IPAs to Sours to Barrel-Aged beers to Belgians, as well as many rare beers. A Lambic-blending experience will be featured, as will cider and mead.
Much planning and preparation went into the more than 200 unique beers from 80 breweries that will be served.
“It took six months to put the beer list together,” Phill Reda said.
When The Big Tap In 5 took place in 2014, the only craft brewery in the Mahoning Valley was Youngstown’s Rust Belt Brewing, which has since closed. This year, 16 breweries from Columbiana, Lawrence, Mercer, Mahoning and Trumbull counties will participate.
IF YOU GO
What: The Big Tap In 6
Where: The Metroplex Expo Center, 1620 Motor Inn Drive, Liberty
Tickets: VIP session (noon to 2 p.m., sold out); general session (2 to 5 p.m.)
What to expect: Craft beer, cider, mead, local food, vendors, artists and entertainment.
A special section will be devoted to local breweries, including Biker Brewhouse (Austintown), Birdfish Brewing (Columbiana), Clubhouse Brewing (Warren), CR Brewing (New Castle), Modern Methods Brewing (Warren), Noble Creature Cask House (Youngstown), Numbers Brewing (Lisbon), Off the Rail Brew Pub (Youngstown), Paladin Brewing (Austintown), Penguin City Beer (Youngstown) and Sandy Springs Brewing (Minerva).
Five western Pennsylvania breweries collaborated with Ohio breweries on beers that will be available as well, Beaver Brewing (Beaver Falls), Brew 32 (Pulaski), Croakers Brewing (New Castle), Crooked Tongue Brewing (Edinburg) and Hop Asylum (New Wilmington).
Other Ohio breweries include Fat Heads, Great Lakes, Thirsty Dog, Rhinegeist, Royal Docks and Urban Artifact. National breweries include Alaskan, Breckenridge, Brewdog, Cigar City and Goose Island. International breweries include Lindemans, Samuel Smith and St. Bernardus.
Local food vendors include A Moveable Feast, Armida’s Cucina, Babcia’s Lunchbox, Barrel 33,
Bruno Bros. Pizza, Kravitz Deli and Magic Tree Pub & Eatery. Entertainment includes Steel Valley Pipes & Drums opening with a bagpipe demonstration, the bands Black Wolf & the Thief, Disco Inferno,
Frequency 528 Silent Disco, the Youngstown Samba Club and more.
New this year, is Youngstown Craft Beer Week. Special events will be sponsored by the State Line Brewers Guild this week to celebrate local craft beer at Bogey’s Bar & Grill, The Casual Pint, Magic Tree Pub & Eatery, The Manor Restaurant and Westside Bowl.
“It’s an opportunity to support great local breweries and businesses,” Phill Reda said. “A lot of local places are doing great stuff.”
The Redas got their start in craft beer when they opened Vintage Estate Wine & Beer in Boardman. They also opened Magic Tree Pub & Eatery in Boardman.
The daily rigors of business and family life got in the way of keeping The Big Tap In going.
“For the past five years, people kept asking us when we were going to bring back The Big Tap In,” Sandy Reda said. “We’re excited to bring it back.”
Relationships the couple has developed are truly special.
“From Vintage Estate to Magic Tree to today, we’ve seen people grow up, go out on their own, form families,” said Sandy Reda. “It’s awesome.”
The Redas recalled the first event at Vintage Estate. Only three people attended. More than 1,200 people are expected to attend The Big Tap In 6.
“What keeps us going is the sense of brotherhood and sisterhood in the craft- beer community,” said Sandy Reda. “It’s a great group of people. We’re fortunate to have so much support.”
As long as people keep coming, the Redas said they’ll continue to hold the event. It’s something multiple generations can enjoy together.
“This year, it’s like starting all over again,” Sandy Reda said. “There’s a whole new generation of craft beer lovers out there.”
The event is a chance to give back.
The Big Tap In 6 benefits Project MKC, formerly Making Kids Count, a Mahoning Valley nonprofit organization dedicated to helping local children.
“We couldn’t do what we do without people who generously continue to support us,” said Colleen Eisenbraun, Project MKC’s program director. “Support from The Big tap In means expansion and flexibility for us to reach more people who need help.”
Eisenbraun said funds raised from The Big Tap In will go toward Project MKC’s Diaper Bank.
Many hours went into went into planning the event. It’s like a full-time job. While the Redas have handled all planning to date, 80 volunteers will assist on event day.
The VIP session is sold out, but there are plenty of tickets available for the general session, which can be purchased at www.bigtapin.com.
Phill Reda said there will be something for everyone to enjoy.
“It’s a day of great food, entertainment, art, people and, of course, unique craft beer,” he said.
No matter who comes, a good time will be had.
“This is going to be an event like Youngstown has never seen.”