Better late than never. I’ve been slacking. It felt good while I was doing it, but now…..
Back in early October tDoB Co-founder Chuck, his wife the Beer Goddess, Tracey (we really need to get her a nickname) and myself had the pleasure of attending the 16th annual Kennett Square Brewfest. I’ve long praised this event as the best I’ve ever been to and I would dare say, one of the best on the East coast. Part of the well deserved praise comes from the fact that Jeff Norman, Mary Hutchins and their awesome team of volunteers, have never rested on their laurels and have always strived to put on the best craft beer event they possibly can, and improve upon it every year.
Only a few days after their inaugural Winter Fest in February, they were already pointing a planning eye towards the October event with a simple four word post on their Facebook page, “Do You Like Firkins?” As I’ve already written, what evolved from that simple sentence was an approximately 35 brewery pre-event Connoisseurs tasting, in which many of the breweries presented beers in firkins. Then of course, there’s the fact they their always trying to accommodate more breweries into the mix. When I asked event organizer Mary Hutchins about the event size last year she said, “…we had 92 brewers, the most we have ever had and we think the number worked well.” This year they clocked in at around 105. That number seemed to work well also.
As with every year, we attended and were mainly focused on the Connoisseurs tasting. Once the green flag dropped, I made my way quickly over to the Hill Farmstead tent. Hill Farmstead should be no stranger to those in the craft beer world, their beers, and sadly, their lack of any significant distribution outside of Vermont are legendary. Luckily, they’ve been making regular appearances at KSBF and this year they brought with them three of their beers. First, I grabbed an Abner, their double pale ale that was quite tasty. Next was a taste of their Civil Disobedience #6 a blend of wine barrels that held 1+ year old Juicy, Flora, Sankt Hans, and Clara from the spring 2012 brewing season, followed by Madness & Civilization #1, a blend of multiple barrels: Buckwheat Rye Porter (aged 24 months in Elijah Craig 12 year barrels), Imperial Stout brewed with Maple Syrup and Wheat (aged in select barrels for 16 months), and Everett aged in Bourbon Barrels with Cacao Nibs and Vanilla Beans. I could have stopped right there….nah….
What followed was an hour and a half blur of awesome beers. Evil Genius was pouring their Apple Pumpkin Porter, Tired Hands was on hand (yeah, I know) with their Hop Hands; and Forrest and Main was pouring both their Kinch IPA and Enfant Terrible a saison with short aging in wine barrels.
Brewery Ommegang was pouring its recently released Game of Thrones inspired Take The Black (a nice straight stout from these guys); while Liquid Hero was pouring their double IPA What The Floc. Dockstreet showed up again with another impressively named beer, Man Full Of Trouble (last year they brought Prisoner of Hell, a Belgian Strong Ale which I though the name was better than the beer) which was a very nice porter (love a good porter). And first time attendees Shawnee Craft brought an excellent Belgian triple.
Then we made it over to the Kennett Brewing Company tent. Kennett should start pouring from their new location some time soon and everyone in the area is looking forward it. This day they were pouring several of their beers; Emma Chisit an Imperial pale ale, Off The Deep End a barleywine with a 15.6% kick to it, and Stupid Sexy Flanders a Flanders red ale that was my favorite.
Soon (always too soon), it was time to shut down Connoisseurs tasting and take a break. Kennett had water tents all around, so it was a good opportunity to down a couple of bottles and go over and talk to the team from Twin Lakes. I always enjoy talking to head brewer Rob Pfieffer, his passion and joy for his craft always come through, and like I’ve said, I’ve never met a happier man. I also took the opportunity to walk around and take a few pictures.
Once they opened the ropes up to the main festival we quickly strolled in with the goal of hitting some of the first time breweries in attendance as well some old favorites. Sadly one brewery I was looking forward to visiting, Barren Hill, had to back out at the last minute. But I enjoyed several beers from the others such as Aggro Wheat and Edgar IPA from Bullfrog Brewing, Cucumber Kolsch from Saucony (the cucumber thing seems to be making a ground swell) as well as the highly recommended Boat Beer from Carton Brewing.
It was when we were heading towards the Bullfrog tent that Tracey pointed to the lady pouring who was wearing a Two Stones shirt and said, “She’s wearing your shirt.” I nodded in agreement and then noticed the woman pouring in the next tent also had one on. “So is she,” I returned. And then people started waving. I knew these people, although it took a second to recognize them outside of the usual place I see them.
Two Stones pub, the local craft beer bar/franchise, was now opening a location in Kennett Square, and owner Mike Stiglitz had the staff volunteer. They occupied the back corner of the festival, probably about seven tents total. It was fun seeing the Two Stones gang even though they seemed a bit out of place.
Odd. But then again, out of place people almost seemed to be the theme for the tasting.
It was also good to finally meet Evolution Brewing representative Megan Moore, even though she apparently didn’t get the memo because I found her at the Evolution tent right where you’d expect her to be. It was also great to meet Todd from the awesome blog, Brewski Boxscore. It’s always fun to talk craft beer with another blogger, I just wish we could have done it a little longer. I also would like to give a shout out to fellow Delaware Craft Beer and Wine Lovers members; Dana, Brandon and Trisha for showing up and making the event that much more fun.
Many beers drank, and still a couple of hours to go; it was sadly time to admit that we had reached that point where more beer simply wasn’t necessary. I’d like to thank Jeff, Mary and their awesome collection of sponsors, volunteers and donators for once again putting on an awesome event. Cheers to all of you!