By Justin Adam Brown - jbrown@timesleader.com

Blue Moon Bash celebrates 20 years of good tasting beer

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Ben Santoro, Melissa Zyats, Jeff Smith, Courtney Blasko, Mike Santorsa and Will Schnieder enjoy a table together on the outdoor patio at Montage Mountain Water Park.
Charlotte Bartizek | For Weekender
Courtney Blasko, male lifeguard at Montage Mountain, and Melissa Zyats
Charlotte Bartizek | For Weekender
Alakazam
Photo courtesy Alakazam

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    Picture “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” as a story written for adults. Willy Wonka probably wouldn’t have a factory where he makes candy, that’s for damn sure.

    Think about it. The only adults who really go ape shit for chocolate bars are single women on their period and the only grown women who incessantly chew bubble gum all day long are hookers standing on the corner waiting to turn their next trick. In the grown-up version, Wonka might be an eccentric brew master who holds a contest to invite lucky guests to tour his brewery and drink his delicious beer. Sounds too good to be true, right?

    Wrong.

    For one night only, L.T. Verrastro is making like Wonka by welcoming 3,000 lucky people throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania to the most exclusive birthday party perhaps ever. In celebration of Blue Moon turning 20 years old, the area beer distributor is holding the Blue Moon Bash, starting at 7 p.m. on Friday, July 31 at Montage Mountain’s water park.

    The event is invite only, and Weekender has your inside look at what to expect and how to get the last group of tickets.

    THAT CHANCE PHRASE

    Steve Eshelman had a smile on his face as he entered what just might be the most epic conference room in the region, if not the universe. The promotions manager for L.T. Verrastro was quick to comment on the refurbished bar noticeably set up in the back.

    “This was the bar in the old Jermyn Hotel in Scranton,” Eshelman rightfully bragged. “They don’t make them like they used to.”

    The conference room not only had a bar — there was a lounge area with black leather chairs, too. Most people wouldn’t want to leave the room all day, but Eshelman is too excited to stay put in his unconventional office space. He’s focused on planning the upcoming birthday party to celebrate orange orchard farmers to up their game for the past two decades.

    Eshelman’s especially eager to celebrate the milestone because Blue Moon is a special beer, he said.

    “I think people have come to realize that it’s a quality beer,” he said. “They use top-shelf ingredients and it’s all about the artistry of putting those ingredients together to come up with a unique beer. They use grade A barley. All of the ingredients in the beer are top of the line. They don’t take shortcuts in the brewing process. Correander. Fresh Valencia. Orange. You can use substitutes, but they don’t. They use all natural ingredients.”

    Chris Dinger of Wilkes-Barre says he appreciates the taste of Blue Moon’s fresh ingredients. “It just has a refreshing taste,” he said. “It’s the best beer to get on tap. Hands down, I think.”

    That unique taste is behind the name of the beer, Eshelman says. The beer connoisseur noted the name came by chance, when a woman who was tasting early samples said, “A beer this good only comes around once in a blue moon.” And with those fateful words, Eshelman explained, Blue Moon was born.

    BEERS OUT, TOMMY GUNS OUT

    Just like the sip of a new beer with a mouthwatering taste, another “once in a blue moon” occurrence is an actual blue moon.

    “We’re celebrating the anniversary of Blue Moon beer all year, really,” Eshelman said. “But we’re having a big bash on the night of the only blue moon of the year.”

    A blue moon is the second full moon in a month.

    “We want to be high in the mountains, underneath the blue moon to celebrate,” Eshelman said on choosing Montage Mountain water park as the venue for the bash. “I think it’s kind of cool to have an adult party at the water park, too.”

    Eshelman says the party will feature a nighttime swim at the water park, Blue Moon bucket specials, trivia contests a mechanical bull and more.

    “It’s going to be cool. People are going to be floating in the Lazy River with a bucket of Blue Moon sitting on their laps,” Eshelman said.

    Live entertainment from Tommy Guns Band and Alakazam will be featured.

    Tommy Dunleavy of Tommy Guns Band is looking forward to playing for fans, he says — but he’s also looking forward to experiencing the party, too. “I’ll be in the Lazy River or the wave pool with a Blue Moon in my hand,” he said.

    Bryan Harmony of Alakazam says the beer being honored is his band’s beer of choice. “When we’re out, it’s our go to,” he said. “It’s really good. It’s light, but it’s not watery. It’s a flavorful beer. And it has an orange in it. What else could you want?”

    Harmony is especially looking forward to performing because it will be one of Alakazam’s first gigs in the area. “For a brand new band to be included in this celebration — with the Tommy Guns Band, who everybody knows and loves — is a blessing for us,” he said.

    No word on how excited Montage Mountain’s water park is to be home of the event. They declined to comment.

    I’VE GOT A BLUE TICKET

    Dissonant to Willy Wonka’s motive, L.T. Verrastro’s invite-only event isn’t to hand over the Blue Moon empire — but how wonderful would that be?

    They’re hosting the preferential party to “reward” people of NEPA who drink Blue Moon, Eshelman said.

    Since June, L.T. Verrastro held more than 85 events at bars throughout the area to chance off passes to the party.

    “We had raffles and contests such as Paint Your Own Glass at places like Ale Mary’s and Andy Gavin’s and Franklin’s and Beer Boys,” Eshelman said. The beer distributor’s last chance to win access inside the celebration will be from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Wednesday, July 29 at Ernie G’s in Avoca.

    Weekender’s got your back, though. We’ll be giving away the last 20 tickets to the Blue Moon Bash.

    Find us at happy hour between 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday, July 30 at Kildare’s Irish Pub in Scranton for your final chance to gain access to the most exclusive party in NEPA and brag your VIP moment all over social media.

    Reach Justin Adam Brown at 570-991-6652 or on Twitter @TLArts

    Blue Moon Bash celebrates 20 years of good tasting beer

    By Justin Adam Brown

    jbrown@timesleader.com

    Ben Santoro, Melissa Zyats, Jeff Smith, Courtney Blasko, Mike Santorsa and Will Schnieder enjoy a table together on the outdoor patio at Montage Mountain Water Park.
    http://www.theweekender.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/web1_bluebash1.jpgBen Santoro, Melissa Zyats, Jeff Smith, Courtney Blasko, Mike Santorsa and Will Schnieder enjoy a table together on the outdoor patio at Montage Mountain Water Park. Charlotte Bartizek | For Weekender

    Courtney Blasko, male lifeguard at Montage Mountain, and Melissa Zyats
    http://www.theweekender.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/web1_bluebash2.jpgCourtney Blasko, male lifeguard at Montage Mountain, and Melissa Zyats Charlotte Bartizek | For Weekender

    Alakazam
    http://www.theweekender.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/web1_ALAKAZAM.jpgAlakazam Photo courtesy Alakazam

    Reach Justin Adam Brown at 570-991-6652 or on Twitter @TLArts