Tracey and I were happy to be able to attend this year’s “Wine About What Ales You” event in Historic New Castle. This event, now in its third year, is held in the Courthouse Museum and benefits the Historic New Castle Alliance, an affiliation of the Main Street Program. To help add to the colonial vibe, upon arriving at the courthouse attendees were greeted by members of the 1st Delaware Regiment, a non-profit group whose focus is to educate the public on the role Delaware played during the American Revolution.
Once inside, it didn’t take long to figure out the layout. As you walked in the door, beers were on the left, and wines to the right. All you had to do was decide where to start. Well, in the center of course! Because that’s where the cheese and chocolate table was.
When I asked Valerie Windle, co-chair for the event, about the very nice selection she replied, “The William Penn Culinary Arts Program (catering as “Penn Bistro) actually created all of the chocolates for us. We had more than 100 people could eat!!” The cheese was purchased by the Alliance itself from Trader Joe’s. What seems to be everyone’s favorite? “The Cheddar with Carmelized Onions is a favorite,” said Valerie. “Goes well with the beers!”
After trying a few samples of as many things as we could place on our plates, it was time to turn our attention to the wine and beer vendors that had come out for the event. We first decided to check out some of the wines that were being poured. Auburn Road from Pilesgrove, New Jersey was pouring, Eidolon, a Chambourcin/Merlot blend that not only tasted good right then, but would obviously take a year or two of aging. DOPS, Inc and Southern Wine and Spirits Distributors were also on hand pouring more things than you could shake a stick at, and I have to be honest, at this point I started to slack as far as taking notes as to what I was tasting from where. Suffice it to say that there were plenty of good wines being poured.
Of course we eventually had to go over and see what was happening on the beer side of the Courtroom. Steve and Pete were there from Argilla Brewing. Luckily, I found them pouring their Pete, Aye the Peat Scotch Ale, which had been tapped at the brewery while I was out of town. Didn’t want to miss this one. Next to them was Iron Hill Newark’s Head Brewer Justin Sproal pouring some really nice bottle releases. Last but not least, Chad from 16 Mile Brewing was on hand pouring their Blues’ Golden, Old Court and Harvest Ale. All in all, it was a nice cross-section of Delaware Craft beers being represented.
According to Valerie, the unofficial attendee count was 93. But with additional walk-ins, she says the event easily broke the 100 mark. When I comment that it appeared they might be close to out growing the quaint, but small courthouse, she concurred, “We had hoped to be able to use The Arsenal this year as it would allow more vendors and more people (or at least more space for everyone) but it wasn’t ready yet. The New Castle Court House Museum has been great as it provides a lot of background character and The Arsenal will do so as well.”
In fact, it was obvious that Valerie and her group were indeed already thinking about next year, “Mark your calendar for January 11, 2014, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. Location TBD, but friend us on FB or on our website, www.historicnewcastle.org, which is being ‘renovated’ shortly to be more visually interesting and dynamic!”
Valerie was also quick to extend thanks to all who made the event possible, “All of our vendors: Auburn Road Vineyards (NJ), DOPS and Southern Distributors, 16-Mile, Argilla and Iron Hill (Newark), Carol Regan for the background vocals and music, and the First Delaware Militia (Revolutionary War) as our time travelers. Many thanks to all those who helped set up, cut and plate the cheese and clean up as many hands make light work!!! And especially to my co-chair, Cindy Snyder, who secures the Court House for the event, and does an endless amount of legwork!!!”
I’d recommend keeping an eye on this event. It might appear small compared to some of the other craft beer related happenings in our area, but there appears to be no limit to what this event could become in the future. At least from Valerie’s point of view, “Eventually we hope to out grow the Arsenal as well.”
I’d like to thank the Historic New Castle Alliance for putting on such a very nice event. I’d also like to thank Stefanie Spatola and Valerie Windle for taking some of their valuable time to talk to me.
The Historic New Castle Alliance has the up coming events:
Winter Fundraiser, the “Doo Wop Sock Hop” on February 16, 2013, 7 – 10 p.m. at St. Peter’s Gym. Music and dancing by The Honeycombs, food by “Penn Bistro”,beer and wine, and silent auction. Tickets are $50 per person and include food and beverages.