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Bottoms up: Hilltown Brewfest’s sixth year

NEW SALEM — Drink beer, fight fire.

The Hilltown Brewfest returns Sept. 7 for a sixth year, with dozens of beer varieties to sample and proceeds benefitting local volunteer fire departments.

The event runs from noon to 5 p.m., rain or shine, under a tent in the field at Cooleyville Junction, 837 Daniel Shays Highway or Route 202.

More than 800 attended last year, according to organizers, and this year’s tasting menu features more than 30 mostly regional brands, most produced by micro or craft brewers in the Pioneer Valley and Quabbin region.

Brewers represented this year include Amherst Brewing Co., Berkshire Brewing Co. of Deerfield, Lefty’s Brewing Co. of Greenfield, Smuttynose Brewery of Portsmouth, N.H., and many less-familiar names.

For those who are not favorably inclined toward beer, there will also be wine, cider and mead.

Founder and organizer Rick Oliver, owner of the New Salem General Store, said there are some brand new faces in the lineup, and at least one brand-new beer: an ale aged three months in Tennessee whiskey barrels. The beer is a collaboration between Oliver’s store and Lefty’s, and will be exclusive to his store and is not yet available anywhere.

Also on the menu are food and music, with live country, rock and Celtic music performances by The Boothill Express, Evenspeak and Boston Blackthorne and hot dogs, hamburgers, vegan chili and barbecued turkey and other meats from the Petersham Lions, Diemand Farms of Wendell and Cliff’s Smokin’ Backyard BBQ.

The Brewfest raised $9,500 last year, Oliver said, with $5,000 going to the New Salem Fire Department and $1,500 each to the Wendell, Shutesbury and Petersham departments.

Tickets are $25 the day of the event or $22 in advance from the New Salem General Store, The Blind Pig Pub, Stan’s Liquor Mart in Athol or Amherst Glass. Advance tickets, information and directions are available online at www.hilltownbrewfest.com.

Parents may bring young children but not teenagers. The cut off age is around 13, Oliver said.

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