Tomorrow is the 2013 addition of the Kennett Brewfest, and the team has once again out done themselves. It all started back in February a few days after the inaugural Kennett Winterfest when they posted on their Facebook page, “Do you like firkins?” What followed was several months of flurried posts and updates as they built this year’s connoisseurs tasting (a smaller pre-festival with select brewers offering beers not available at the general event) into a 35 brewery event with as many firkins as they could talk breweries into bringing. The other beers according to event founder Jeff Norman, “were beers just too interesting to pass up but were not available as firkins”. Like connoisseur tasting favorite Hill Farmstead who won’t be bringing firkins. “…but on the bright side they are providing 3 beers”, Jeff wrote.
But that wasn’t enough. Always striving to top themselves, the festival team wanted to bring in around 15 breweries that would be new to the event and to that end, they’ve done a pretty good job. By rough count I see about 25 breweries (out of the 105 that are attending) that were not present at last year’s festival, with KB’s Facebook page confirming that five of them are indeed first time attendees.
Some are established breweries (Bell’s) that just haven’t made their way into Kennett yet. But some of them are first time attendees simply for the fact they they were not in business this time last year (Although Kennett Brewing Company appeared at the Winterfest, this is the first year they’ll be pouring at the Brewfest).
So with that in mind, I’ve taken a quick look at the list and picked out five new (or at least not present last year) breweries that I certainly will be checking out.
BARREN HILL, Lafayette Hill PA, TENT #3 – Erin Wallace owner of the Devil’s Den in Philly has bought the former Olde General Layfette location and appointed Scott Morrision as the head brewer. As Barren Hill has yet to open its doors, the only place you’ve been able to get a peak at some of the up coming brews is at the Den itself. However, that all changes this Saturday when Kennett attendees will get a chance to try beers from Barren Hill at both sessions. What to expect? Well the first beers out of the fermenters were a Double Berliner Weisse, a Burton IPA, and a French Oktoberfest brew called a Bière de Octobre. There are also a handful of beers that will be on tap for their up coming opening, including a Scotch Wallace Ale that sounds really interesting.
TWISTED PINE, BOULDER CO, TENT #49 – Brewing legend Gordon Knight started Twisted Pine back in 1995 when he acquired some original brewing equipment from New Belgian and began selling his beer to local restaurants. In 1996, the brewery was sold to Bob Baile who continued in Gordon’s footsteps. Since then the brewery has done nothing but win awards, among the most recent of which are two medals at last year’s GABF; a Gold for their West Bound Braggot and a Bronze for their Expresso Stout. They also produce a beer I’ve heard good things about, Hoppy Knight; as well as two I’ve heard of that have always intrigued me, a chili beer named Ghost Face Killah, brewed with ghost peppers, and Roots Revival IPA, a beer brewed with local carrots.
MISSION BREWERY, SAN DIEGO CA, TENT #47 – I’m pretty sure I’ve bumped into Mission before, but after a couple of scans, I don’t seem to see them on last year’s brewery list. Their website says very little about the background of the brewery, but that’s OK, the beer list tells me everything I need to know. Their Amber, Blonde and Hefeweizen are multi-time award winning beers (with their Blonde medaling in both the Los Angeles International Beer Competition and the San Diego International Beer Competition in both 2011 and 2013), and their IPA is a one time GABF Silver medal winner. I’m hoping to at least see the Blonde at the festival (I love Kolsch-style ales) and wouldn’t mind seeing one of their dark beers, either the Dark Seas RIS or the Stigmata Grand Cru Belgian Dark Ale, as well.
SAUCONY CREEK, KUTZTOWN PA, TENT # 83 – Opening up in March of 2013, Saucony Creek is one of the youngest operating breweries at the festival, but they’ve already started to gain notice with their “Say we won’t” attitude and their Farm to Pint vision. Owner and brewer Matt Lindenmuth started this vision after retiring from a shining career as a professional X-Games athlete (it’s true, at the Summer X-Games in 2002, Matt was the first person to attempt a triple backflip on the vert ramp); building Saucony Creek into a brewery that is heavily invested in and supportive of the local, natural farmers. Their barley and hops are both locally grown and Matt ensures the freshness of the beer even more by operating an on-premise malting operation. I’m really hoping to get a chance to try their Stone Fly IPA and All Blacks, a black IPA made with three New Zealand hops.
BULLFROG BREWERY, WILLIAMSPORT PA, TENT #57 – It wasn’t but a short time ago that if you wanted to try the beers produced by Bullfrog Brewery, you had to travel to the brew pub in Williamsport. But in 2013, the company opened a second facility and began distributing their product in kegs and sixtels to the surrounding area. Although clearly stated on their website, one doesn’t have to read it to see the Bullfrog likes to lean a bit to the Belgian side of the spectrum. One only needs to scan their beer list and see how often the word “farmhouse” shows up on it to know what’s up with Bullfrog. And when you take into consideration that they won Gold and Silver medals at the 2004 WBC with a Belgian-style Ale, and Belgian-style Tripel, it only reinforces the point. They also won GABF Gold medal (2008) and Bronze medal (2010) for two barrel-aged sour beers Beekeeper and The Jaspers, respectively. I’m looking forward to trying just about anything these guys bring because it all sounds pretty interesting.
Plus one for luck – Last minute addition CARTON BREWERY, ATLANTIC HIGHLANDS NJ, TENT #56 – How can you not want to try beers like Brunch.Dinner.Grub or Carton of Milk, a session milk stout.
Of course, these only scratch the surface of the breweries (both new and old) that will be at tomorrow’s festival. I will also be sure to make stops at Brewer’s Art, Allagash, Stillwater, Voodoo, Founders, Deschutes, and Starr Hill; as well as checking in on the local boys; Twin Lakes, Dogfish Head, Evolution, Argilla, and Old Dominion. Oh and definitely visiting Hill Farmstead at the connoisseurs tasting to see what firkins they’ve brought. Will.not.miss.that.
Hope to see you there!