Leaving a MARC: Beer to benefit rec complex

May 15—When representatives of Voodoo Brewing Co. and the Meadville Area Recreation Complex (MARC) brainstormed recently on how they could team up, they wanted to do something that would last — something that would have an impact — something, they said, that would leave a mark.

Not like the bruised face of a penalty box resident, which quickly heals, and not like the vacant space in the smile of a victorious hockey player, which can soon be corrected or hidden, but a mark that would endure — just as the MARC has endured for 50 years.

And they came up with something that fits the bill: a beer.

Not just any beer, however: a golden lager they are calling "That's Gonna Leave a MARC."

With proceeds to benefit the recreation complex, the hope is that the beer will have an impact beyond the individual beer fans who enjoy it.

The tasty potion hits the ice, metaphorically speaking, Thursday during an event from 5 to 9 p.m. at Voodoo's Compound location, 834 Bessemer St.

"Obviously, they know how to make a beer and we know how to promote things that are good for the MARC," said Jay Verno, a board member of the foundation that supports the facility, who credited Ed Mailliard, a member of the board that oversees the MARC, with the original inspiration. "It was one of those things that just took off from there. It really did start with a great concept of, 'Why not do a homegrown brew?'"

The answer was obvious to Voodoo CEO Matteo Rachocki.

"Myself, my brother and my sister, we all grew up learning to swim and playing hockey in the youth hockey league there," Rachocki said in a phone interview Tuesday. "The MARC really holds a special place for me and my family, so this was a no-brainer to get involved and do whatever we could to support this great cause."

What they came up with is a golden lager that is "very approachable, very refreshing," according to Rachocki.

Voodoo is known for its experimental approach to beer, ranging from year-round offerings like Voodoo Love Child, a Belgian-style pale ale aged on cherries, raspberries and passion fruit to give it a sweet, fruity flavor, to seasonal brews like Big Black Voodoo Daddy, a Russian-style imperial stout made from chocolate and roasted malts that contains 12 percent alcohol by volume, more than twice that found in a traditional American beer.

"That's Gonna Leave a MARC" contains 6 percent alcohol by volume, which is more in line with American beers aimed at the mass market. Tom Guzick, Voodoo's chief marketing officer, expects it to have wide appeal.

"We didn't want to go with a beer that would alienate one type of beer drinker or another," Guzick said. "The classic golden lager is something that seems to gravitate toward the majority of beer drinkers, so we wanted to do something that was accessible to everybody that loves the MARC and wants to help this great cause."

It's perfect for quenching the thirst created by an hour or two on the ice or in the pool, he added, saying, "It's easy to drink and hits all the bases."

"Too easy to drink," Rachocki added with a laugh.

Thursday's launch party also serves as preparation for the full-scale reopening of the Compound, which begins June 1.

"This is the first time the Compound has been open to the public in quite some time — I couldn't even tell you how long," Rachocki said. "We're excited to get activated again."

The reopening will also come a few weeks before the expected launch of a section of the French Creek Bessemer Trail Project that passes behind the Compound, he added.

If the MARC-themed beer proves popular, the rec complex will reap some of the rewards. For every glass sold at Voodoo's two Meadville locations, $1 will go to the foundation that supports the facility. Another goal of the Thursday event is to draw interest from restaurants and bars in the area. Voodoo is offering kegs at a special price to those that wish to offer it on tap with the same $1 donation for each beer sold.

Like Verno, Aaron Rekich, the MARC's executive director, has not actually tried the MARC-themed brew yet. That won't happen until Thursday, but Rekich has been hard at work on tap handles that will be distributed to bars serving the beer. The handles, made from old hockey sticks and pucks, serve as a visual reminder of the beer's added benefit.

"We're really starting to kick off this 50th anniversary with some good fundraising," Rekich said, "so we can try to keep the MARC around for the next 50 years."


The "That's Gonna Leave a MARC" launch party takes place Thursday from 5 to 9 p.m. at Voodoo Brewing Co.'s Compound location, 834 Bessemer St. The event includes complimentary light appetizers and free 12-ounce drafts of the new beer whose sales will benefit the Meadville Area Recreation Complex. For information on serving the beer at restaurants, bars and special events, email info@voodoobrewery.com.

Mike Crowley can be reached at (814) 724-6370 or by email at mcrowley@meadvilletribune.com.