Can it and they will drink. That's been a rising mantra for the craft beer industry over the last few years, and the canned beer revolution will be front and center this year at the Inquirer's annual Brewvitational competition and festival for local beer, happening at Reading Terminal Market on May 2.

Brewvi swag: Mini-beer glass for tasting the 50-plus beers featured at the 2017 Taste of the Brewvitational.
CRAIG LABAN
Brewvi swag: Mini-beer glass for tasting the 50-plus beers featured at the 2017 Taste of the Brewvitational.

Introducing the 2018 Brewvi Can-tacular! This year's event promises to be bigger and better in several ways, from a new VIP experience to a philanthropic initiative to support two great causes — improving water quality and fighting hunger — while we celebrate the region's best beers with food from Reading Terminal vendors.

Tickets for the event are now available online, as are the entry forms for brewers. And registration has been brisk with the addition of several new breweries, as well as established players who've laid the foundation for one of America's great beer regions. Deadline for breweries to enter is April 5, and brewers should not delay, as space in center court at the market tasting is limited.

The Brewvi, now in its ninth edition, has grown into the area's largest competition showcase for local beers, with 79 entries last year from 41 breweries in Southeast Pennsylvania, South Jersey, and Delaware vying for the title of best "new" beer plus another category focused on a specific theme, evaluated in a blind tasting by a panel of expert judges. Last year's competition featured lagers, a category won by Pilsner Prosim from Kensington's St. Benjamin, which, in a rarity, also won best new beer with its Franklin's Abbey Dubbel.

This year's showcase of the canning trend will bring a wide variety of examples that should crush any preconceived notions about the limitations of canned beer. And attendees will be able to taste some of the best that evening from 7 to 10 p.m., along with the chance to cast their vote for the best "flagship" beer in the region. The standard $75 tickets this year will also include three food vouchers for Reading Terminal vendors. The early bird price is $65 if you sign up before April 13.

Andrew Foss (center), head brewer at St. Benjamin Brewing Co., pours beer after taking two first-place awards, for best new beer and best lager.
Brian Larrabee
Andrew Foss (center), head brewer at St. Benjamin Brewing Co., pours beer after taking two first-place awards, for best new beer and best lager.

In this second edition of the Brewvi's public event, there will also be a new VIP experience ($90) where attendees will have exclusive access to several of the finalist beers chosen by the judges earlier in the day, plus hors d'oeuvres, and will be guided by a panel of experts through the blind-tasting experience – before the winners are announced live at the event.

The 2018 Brewvi will also benefit two important causes. Proceeds  will go to the Delaware River Restoration Fund, which supports on-the-ground work to clean the vast watershed that affects every local brewer, not to mention everyone who drinks water. In honor of the Can-tacular! theme, the Brewvi will also host a canned food drive to benefit Project HOME, which runs several food pantries in North Philadelphia, among other important work to fight poverty and homelessness. There will be collection bins near Molly Malloy's at center court at the Reading Terminal during  the week preceding the event.

At this year's Inquirer Brewvitational, good things will definitely come in cans.

The 2017 Taste of the Brewvitational event at Reading Terminal Market.
STEVEN M. FALK
The 2017 Taste of the Brewvitational event at Reading Terminal Market.