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Spotlight: Coal region breweries celebrated

If you brew it, they will come.

And they will come in droves, some bringing their memories, some learning about the past, and all of them celebrating the glory days when coal was king and beer breweries a huge part of the kingdom. Hundreds of history and beer aficionados came to the Tamaqua Area Historical Society on Saturday evening for an event celebrating coal region breweries.

The door opened at 5 p.m., and an hour later, about 150 people had already checked out the exhibit. The event ran from 5 to 8 p.m., and organizers estimated that about 400 people attended.

“These are not just people from down the street,” said Dale Freudenberger, president of the historical society. “I’ve talked to people from Pottsville, Jim Thorpe, Hazleton, New Jersey, New York, Scranton — this is a great turnout.”

Attendees could taste a sample from Revere Brewery, soon to open in Tamaqua. Throughout the evening, the throng of folks waiting for a sample was five deep. Don Jones of Hometown, Revere Brewery, said the brewery is named for his father, to pay homage to the family’s military service.

“My dad’s name is Paul Revere Jones — we’re a very patriotic family with military service going back to my great-great-grandfather,” Jones said. Jones served in the United States Army.

“We love this,” he added, pouring another sample. “It’s a great opportunity to let people get to know us.”

Re-enactor Ruth O’Dell of Plains portrayed Carrie Nation, and Bob Bybrenner of Tamaqua played a cigar-smoking man who “is just a honky-tonk piano player,” he said. The two roamed the room and bantered about the Prohibition era, with “Nation” toting a hatchet and threatening to smash beer kegs.

There were plenty of beer kegs around, and also various displays, including 80 beer trays, lots of signs, cans, bottles, coasters, ashtrays and other memorabilia. The items had the names of past and present breweries from Schuylkill, Carbon, Luzerne and Lackawanna counties.

The items came from the collections of Freudenberger, John Catizone, Dave Clemson, Jack Hochgertal, William Murphy, David Myers, Daniel Schroeder, Gary Willing, Bill Harleman and Scott Herring.

Freudenberger said that volunteers worked for several weeks to set up the displays.

“Events like this don’t happen without a lot of help,” he said. “But you look around tonight and see all these people, and all the work is worth it.”

One of many signs on display at the Tamaqua Community Art Center. LISA PRICE/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS
Organizers estimated that about 400 people attended the Coal Region Breweries exhibit.
LEFT: Tamaqua Historical Society President Dale Freudenberger and Tamaqua Community Art Center Director Leona Riegel.
The Tamaqua Community Art Center displays memorabilia related to coal region breweries. LISA PRICE/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS
ABOVE: Re-enactors Ruth O’Dell of Plains portrayed Carrie Nation, and Tamaqua’s Bob Bybrenner, who entertained on the player piano, said he portrayed a honky-tonk piano player. 
Hundreds of people come to see the beer exhibit at the Tamaqua Community Art Center. LISA PRICE/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS