Tickets are still available for this Saturday’s Downtown Beer Festival

Including, yes, VIP

This Saturday, August 12th marks the inaugural Downtown Wilmington Craft Beer Festival. The festival will be located right on Main Street in front of Wilmington beer fixture the Chelsea Tavern.

Attendees can expect the usual beer festival fun, including music, vendors, food trucks and of course, beer – over 100 to be exact representing some 40 regional breweries.

The festival itself runs from 12 noon (for VIP ticket holders) or 1:30 (for GA ticket holders). Taps close at 5:30pm, but the music portion of the event will still continue until 7:30pm.  Attendees who wish to continue in the festivities will have two outside bars and of course, Chelsea Tavern available to them.

A portion of the proceeds will benefit John Medkeff’s Jr’s “Restore the King” project which is raising money to restore the 135-year old Gambrinus statue that once stood on the side of the Diamond State Brewery.

The links that matter:

For information on the event including times, musical guests, etc; the event’s Facebook page is here.

You can purchase tickets here.

Downtown Brew Festival

…………………………………………………………

Other dates of note:

Delaware:A Brew Story returns to the Blue Ball barn on September 2nd with a ‘roaring Twenties‘ theme.

The Historic Odessa Brew-fest returns September 9th.

Kennett Brew-fest returns for it’s 20th session on September 30th.

16 Mile Brewery Just Broke the TTB with Flavored Amber Sun Beers.

[UPDATE: The list was updated on 10/4 as beers continue to pour out of the TTB. Not only are keg labels being approved for Amber Sun, but now labels for Blues Golden Ale mixed with various flavors are also being approved. The Updated list is below.]

The TTB (Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau) is the government agency that over sees much of what goes on in the world of beer, wine, mead and cider. Among their duties is (where required) the approval of labeling that appears on these products.

The TTB releases approved labels on their website’s database. This is how sites like mine and My Beer Buzz get the label information we do before the beer hits the shelves or cooler.

For me, it’s pretty simple. Delaware is a quite state compared to some and a routine check now and then usually only unveils a label or two, most of which are keg labels that I don’t normally share because there’s normally nothing interesting on the label beyond the name of the beer.

So I was shocked this morning when I checked the database and found that the tally of new labels approved for Delaware within the last month now stood at 54, when a check a couple of days ago showed it solidly in the low 20s.  What happened?

Well, 16 Mile happened. And they happened big time.

Apparently the brewery will be dosing their Amber Sun ale with – well almost everything under the sun. All the beers at this point appear to be keg only as shown by the example label below and as the list of approved labels appeared in almost perfect alphabetical order (not how the TTB presents them in the database) and ends with the letter C, I’m left wondering if there’s more to come.

What’s this all about? No idea, but color me intrigued.

Below is the list of all the 16 Mile beers that the TTB approved keg labels for. As I stated above each one is described as “Amber Sun ale with…”

Apple Pear Cinnamon

Apricot Cinnamon

Apricot and Honey

Agave

Agave Allspice Anise

Allspice

Anise

Apple

Apple Anise Agave

Apricots

Bilberries

Blackberries

Black Currents

Black Pepper

Black Pepper Pinapple

Brown Sugar

Blueberries

Cherries

Chicory

Chicory Figs Cinnamon

Chocolate

Cinnamon

Cinnamon Chocolate

Cinnamon Chocolate Coconut

Cinnamon Chocolate Honey

Cinnamon Cloves Brown Sugar

Cinnamon Pear

Cocoa Coffee

Cocoa

Coconut

Coconut Honey Mango

Coffee

Coriander

Cranberries

Strawberries

Sweet Potato Maple Cinnamon

Potato Cinnamon

Tea

Vanilla

Raspberries

Raisins

Huckleberries

Juniper Berries

Lactose

Nutmeg

Mace

Mango

Maple Sugar

Marion Berries

Molasses

Nectoarine

Pumpkin

Pinapple

Peaches

Plum

Pomegranate

Sage

Star Anice

Cumin

Dates

Figs

Ginger

Red Currents

WITH BLUES GOLDEN ALE:

Apricots

Apples

Agave

Allspice

Blood Oranges

Black Pepper

Black Currents

Blackberries

Bilberries

Basil

Caraway

Camomile

Brown Sugar.

And maybe more to come…..

16-mile-flavored-amber-sun

Have Some Breweries Effectively Defeated Can Rage?

It’s time, isn’t it? I mean I could understand it initially. Change brings out the deepest of insecurities and skepticism in people, especially when the thing that is changing is going in a direction of something that has for decades stood for inferiority and questionable quality.

When the initial wave of craft beer in cans began, there was a good amount of backlash from a sector of the craft beer community. But that didn’t deter those breweries from installing canning lines instead of bottling lines, and the trend (if you can call it that) shows no sign of slowing down.

According to CraftCans.com, 81 craft breweries were canning their beer in 2010. Today that number sits at well over 500 breweries which all together put over 2000 canned beers on US market shelves (and I suspect the numbers are even higher. CraftCan wasn’t up to date regards to breweries who can in Delaware and so maybe other states are under represented as well).

I’ve witnessed this growth myself watching the canned craft beer section at State Line Liquors, a small shelf pushed into a corner, grow into a much larger shelf that OK, is still pushed into a corner but you can no longer walk past it unaware of its presence.

Once breweries began to get their patrons over the stigma that beer in cans was inferior, in some way tasted like “canned beer”, or that a hop vine died every time a can was opened; it was inevitable that the convenience and portability of cans would be quickly embraced.

Let’s face it when it comes to the most accommodating friend who is always up for fun, cans are it. They can go places that bottles can’t go, are easier and safer to deal with than a pile of empty glass, and as I pointed out on a recent Facebook chat, they’re far superior based on their shear stackability alone.

These potential benefits weren’t lost on Lori Clough whose 3rd Wave Brewery although having a history of bottling their shelf products on a bottling line inherited when her and her partner Suellen Vickers acquired the old Evolution Brewing site, recently released their seasonal BeachBreaker Apricot Wheat in cans. “We are located close to the Delaware and Maryland resort beaches, lots of hotels and state parks. All of which do not allow (or discourage) glass bottles,” Lori said.

But Lori also commented that canning had other advantages, “As we researched the canning process, we decided to can one year round product and a few seasonals….Cans work so much better in carry in/carry out situations. The cans and the canning process has greatly improved over the last few years. More people tend to recycle cans. Cans protect the product much better than bottles. And last, lots of other breweries are canning, we don’t want to miss out!”

And Lori doesn’t have to look far to witness some of these other breweries that are canning. In fact, she doesn’t even have to look outside of the state.

Delaware’s Twin Lake Brewery has offered their only shelf product Greenville Pale Ale in a can from the very beginning, and Milford’s Mispillion River has canned all their beers except for occasional “brewery sales only” bottle releases. So what can we expect to see from 3rd Waving joining these beers in the future?

Lori told me that their pale ale ShoreBreak will be available in cans all year round and that along with BeachBreak Apricot you can expect two other seasonals, SunSet Peach Wheat and SunDancer White IPA in mid July and late August, respectively.

But if it was just these new, cool kids taking to cans, maybe this whole “craze” might go away but no, some of the more established breweries are also taking advantage of the aluminum resurgence. Sierra Nevada, Ballast Point, Avery, Victory, Cigar City, Brewer’s Art and Bells all now have offerings in cans and early this year it was announced that industry darling New Glarus had installed a canning line. Except they hadn’t. But then they had.

No, I feel that despite some stubborn naysayers who will continue to hold on to their glass as tightly as Rose did to Jack at the end of Titanic (until she finally…well, you know…), thanks to some breweries who were willing to go against initial skepticism, cans are here to stay and will only continue to grow in numbers on the shelves of your favorite beer stop.

As always I would like to thank Lori for taking some of her valuable time to talk to me.

THE FINAL SIP: “I dream of the day when I can walk out of the liquor store with a 30-pack of Arrogant Bastard in cans.” – Ed Morgan. Well maybe not a 30-pack but available at State Line Liquors for $38.99 a case of 16oz cans. (PHOTO: The Dogs of Beer)

Updated and New Label Art from Dogfish Head and 16 Mile

Here’s a gallery of new labels and updated old labels from both Dogfish Head and 16 Mile breweries. Dogfish Head continues to update the look of their 12oz bottles and adds a new beer to their shelf product, while 16 Mile begins its redesigning and adds a new beer as well.

First up, Dogfish Head:

DFH Seaquench AleDFH Midas TouchDFH Namaste

And what’s new from 16 Mile:

16 Mile Amber Sun

16 Mile Blues' Golden

16 Mile Curvy Blonde

16 Mile TIller Brown

A Discussion with New Event Manger John Doerfler About the 2016 Delaware Wine and Beer Festival

DWaBF2014A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of talking to John Doerfler, Sales and Event Manger for Kent County Tourism and the new person behind the Delaware Wine and Beer Festival.

I wanted to talk to John to ask about any potential changes there may be coming for this year’s festival in light of some of the issues that plagued last year’s event. For those who didn’t go to last years or didn’t hear any of the rumblings, I’ll try to sum it up briefly.

It was crowded.

Oh Lordy, was it crowded.

By the time we returned to the main festival after visiting the homebrew competition we found the place had turned into a collection of queued people waiting in one line or another. Lines at the vendor tents were easily 30-40 people deep, even deeper at the port-a-potties. The main path through the event was so crowded that it was hard to tell if you were standing in a vendor line, or standing in the line to get passed the vendor lines and some of those vendors would end up running out of beer early into the festival.

We left early. Our friend (who had bought a VIP ticket) never got a beer from a vendor having only tasted the beers during the homebrew judging.

I was disappointed because in the past, The Delaware Wine and Beer Festival had been my favorite yearly event, an awesome collection of everything in the beverage scene in the state of Delaware. Some time later I hoped that my disappointment was confined solely to me and my group, and I hoped everyone else who had attended found the festival enjoyable and fun.

That was not the case.

The Delaware Craft Beer and Wine Lovers Facebook page event for the festival had over 3200-people who had clicked that they were going to the event. People were posting comments about how much they looked forward to going and were eagerly tagging their friends to spread the word. Immediately after the event however, the tone on the thread changed. It seems that we were not the only ones disappointed by the event.

And boy did they let us know.

DWABF Comments

From the looks of things, the next festival would have its work cut out for it trying to address the issues that had been raised and so with that thought in mind, I contacted John to talk about that very thing.

However, the phone call I went into thinking of strictly as an interview turned out to be more of a discussion. Plans for this year’s festival were still being ironed out, and John was very interested in hearing what criticisms myself and others had about last year’s event to see if they were in line with some of the feedback he had heard.

As such I won’t write a detailed recap of our discussion, I will instead hit some of the highlights to explain the reasoning behind the announced changes.

VENUE: As stated in Thursday’s release, the event is being moved away from the Delaware Agricultural Museum. Moving the festival to the Harrington Fairgrounds immediately relieves several of the problems from last year. The larger venue allows the festival to be more spread out and thus eliminate the congestion, plus make space for more toilets.

John stated another advantage to the move, “We have access to a couple of big buildings allowing us to have some of the vendors inside and if the weather is bad we could move the whole festival indoors.”

VIP DIFFERENTIAL: Of all the big issues I thought last year’s event suffered from, I thought this was a pretty important one. When I stated that some folks didn’t see the value in the VIP ticket compared to the general admission ticket I had to admit that I agreed with them.

John definitely could see their point, and we did discuss some options but Thursday’s release made no mention of VIP tickets. When I inquired as to why, Marketing and Communication’s Manager, Justine Zimney was quick to respond, “As of right now, we are still working on details such as the VIP tickets and the homebrew competition. The press release sent out this morning was to highlight the new venue as well as early bird tickets.. which is the first time we are doing a special early bird ticket price! Once more information is released then we will have an additional press release.

If you haven’t seen the information yet, the festival is offering general admission tickets from now until July 8th, for only $25. After July 8th, advance admission will be $35, and day-of-event tickets will be $40. Your ticket will get  you entrance into the festival and you can sample any beers, wines or spirits, as well as purchase a full pour (full glass of beer, wine or a cocktail).

RUNNING OUT OF BEER: While many festivals rely on brewers to donate their beer, that’s not been the case with the DWaBF. When I asked if it was true that the festival buys all the beer from the vendors, John confirmed that that was indeed the case. “For other festivals I could offer them exposure in return for a brewery’s beer, but these vendors already have that. They’ve worked hard on their product. Why shouldn’t they get paid for it?”

So how do you make sure you’re buying enough. This is where John’s previous experience with festivals at Dover Downs and as a onetime caterer comes in handy. “There are ways to calculate this kind of stuff. I never ran out of anything when I catered.”

Still, will this guarantee that some breweries won’t still run out. No, because sometimes breweries can only give so much. I happen to know that part of the reason Argilla left early last year was because their annual Fall Festival was the following weekend and Steve only had so many kegs he could release to Delaware’s event.

Likewise, Big Oyster had just started up their small production brewery and was also probably limited to the number of kegs they could contribute.

That being said, John’s goal is to have as much beer (and wine, mead, spirits) available for festival goers throughout the entire event.

LONG LINES: Although John acknowledges that some waiting in line is a benefit to help control over consumption, he was quick to point out that he felt that waiting 25-30 minutes in line for a sample was unacceptable. John would like to see three to four smaller lines at each tent instead of one long one. “If we could set it up where the breweries have more taps and we have more volunteers to help them pour, then the line problem becomes more manageable”.

And as far as people standing in line waiting to get into the festival? “We have access to the latest technology to get people into  the festival as fast as possible”, John said.

I was very encouraged about this year’s festival after my discussion with John. I found him eager to discuss how the festival might be improved and he took none of the issues from last year’s patrons lightly or offhandedly. In fact, on several occasions when I brought up an issue he would quickly agree that there should be a better alternative which lead me to believe that he had already given the matter some consideration.

I think this can be best illustrated by a point towards the end of our discussion when I brought up the fact that many people were disappointed in the use of plastic cups. I didn’t even get to finish my statement.

“Yeah, we won’t be doing that. They’re gone.”

As always I’d like to thank both John Doerfler and Justine Zimney for taking some of their valuable time to talk to me.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Event Details: (Facebook, Website, Tickets)

  • Saturday, October 15, 2016, 12 noon – 5 p.m.
  • Delaware State Fairgrounds
  • 18500 S. DuPont Highway, Harrington, Delaware

The festival includes live music, performers, games, and access to a select number of local eateries featuring gourmet foods and Delaware delicacies.  We will offer a merchandise store and a wine store with discounted prices on bottles or cases of Delaware-made wines.

This autumn festival will have you experiencing some of the First State’s finest culinary landscape. A food unique to Delaware called “scrapple,” a pork-based meal known to be Delaware’s most icon dish, is a fan favorite for many. Guests can look forward to a variety of Delaware delicacies such as seafood and barbecue dishes. Food trucks from local culinary artists will also be set up with delicious and convenient items for all to enjoy

You must be 21 to attend.

Please note:  There are no refunds for this event, and it will be held rain or shine.

Book Review – Delaware Beer by Tony Russo

DelawareBeerAs a point of disclosure I’m obligated to inform you that there was no way I wasn’t going to enjoy this book.

Oh sure, I was going on a little faith as I knew absolutely nothing about Tony Russo before I caught wind of his new book Delaware Beer: The Story of Brewing in the First State. A brief stroll through the interwebs informed me that indeed this was not Mr. Russo’s first foray into the area of local craft beer.

Tony Russo, as well as being a part of the ShoreCraftBeer.com site is the author of the book Eastern Shore Beer:: The Heady History of Chesapeake Brewing as well as previously writing and editing for the Metropolitan Magazine, Star Democrat, Bayside Gazette and Laurel Star.

So it seemed on a glance that Mr. Russo would be a capable writer with the necessary level of knowledge of the subject to answer the question that his latest book’s title seems to beg.

What is Delaware beer?

One gets the feeling that in order to answer that question Tony Russo took a cue from Cosmos host Neil deGrasse Tyson. While standing on top of a hill with a clear view of everything that is currently happening “beerwise” in the state of Delaware; Russo seems to have asked the same question Mr. Tyson often asked viewers – How did we get here?

And – much like the show Cosmos – Mr. Russo is going to have to take us on a trek back in time to begin to answer that question.

Mr. Russo starts off in the early days of Delaware. Much to his credit, the author doesn’t proceed into a long rehashing of this time period, simply pointing to John Medkeff Jr’s recently published Brewing in Delaware for a more in depth study.

However, he does use this opportunity to set up future chapters by explaining such things as the influence of German immigrants that drove lager to prominence in the marketplace in Delaware and indeed the US, the impacts of Prohibition on the brewers that called Delaware their home, and also the strong sense of culture – the “tavern” community – that arose around the simple pleasures of family and good beer among these same German immigrants (remember that last one; it’s important).

Once the groundwork is laid we’re brought forward in time for a look at three men Delaware beer enthusiasts should easily recognize: Sam Calagione, Al Stewart and Jim Lutz (who provides the forward for the book).

The author lays out enough history to be informative but not boring while explaining the framework of state regulations, still prevalent prohibition mindsets, and early equipment frustrations that Sam and Al had to wade through to get their respective brewpubs off the ground. And by dialing in other breweries such as Iron Hill, adds a discussion on how each company took a different approach in the attempt to establish themselves in a market place that was (and maybe to a point still is) trying to figure itself out.

At the heart of Delaware Beer are the multitude of stories that are woven within the framework of this history concerning the people behind these breweries and consequently the breweries that would begin to open over the coming decades including 3rd Wave, FoDo, Mispillion, Twin Lakes and most recently, Blue Earl Brewing. Stories which help flesh out the narrative and make the book more than just a dry history text.

Mr. Russo uses these stories to highlight the fact that although each brewery worked independently to find their own identity within their surrounding community (remember that from above?) the overall result was a commonality that solidly defines what he believes Delaware beer is.  How? Well you’re going to have to read the book to find that out for yourselves, but trust me, in my opinion Mr. Russo has more than risen to the task.

At 106 pages, Delaware Beer isn’t a daunting read. The narrative of the book flows effortlessly and it reads quite well. It also contains a good number of black and white pictures throughout (along with a 16 page color photo insert) of places and faces that people familiar with the Delaware beer scene should easily recognize.

As stated above there was no way I wasn’t going to enjoy this book, and I’m glad to say that I was right – mostly because I had the pleasure or experiencing this beer Renaissance for myself. Tony Russo has written a worthy addition to the bookshelf of anyone interested in the journey beer brewers took in the state of Delaware to get the beer scene where it currently resides today. I’d consider it an excellent follow up read (if not a totally unintentional companion) to John Medkeff’s book mentioned above.

How did we get here? I think Mr. Russo did a fine job explaining our journey. But unlike Cosmos, not only didn’t we have to leave our galaxy to find the answers – we barely had to leave our state.

………………………………………………………………………………….

Delaware Beer: The Story of Brewing in the First State, $21.99, Arcadia Publishing/The History Press (American Palate Series). Available at local retailers, online bookstores, or through Arcadia Publishing and The History Press at http://www.arcadiapublishing.com or (888) 313-2665, starting May 9th, 2016.

Tony Russo (ShoreCraftBeer)
Kelly Russo – photos except where indicated (KellyRussoPhotography)

MEET THE AUTHOR!

Blue Earl Brewery – May 12th
Dewey Beer Company – May 15th
Seaford Library – May 30th
Fordham and Dominion Brewing – June 3rd
Salisbury Shore Craft Beer Fest – June 18th
Bethany Beach Books – June 19th

[Disclosure: I’d like to thank Emily Hommel and Katie Parry of Arcadia Publishing/History Press for sending me an advanced copy of Delaware Beer.  Receiving this book free as a reviewer’s copy in no way influence my opinion of this book or its review.]

xxxxxx
THE FINAL SIP: “Being child friendly has been an important aspect of running these modern-day beer gardens, but being dog friendly has been critical. People like bringing their dogs to the brewery, especially in places without a restaurant, dogs are very welcome. In preparation for publishing this book, we traveled to all the breweries and saw dogs at nearly every one.” – Tony Russo, Delaware Beer. (PHOTO CREDIT: Mispillion River Brewing Facebook page)

 

Book Release – Delaware Beer by Tony Russo

Below is information from the press release on Tony Russo’s (ShoreCraftBeer.com) up coming book entitled “Delaware Beer: The Story of Brewing in the First State” which is set to go on sale May 9th. Links for pre-orders can be found at the bottom of this post.

***** Press Release*****

About the book: Boasting a brewing history older than the United States, Delaware packs an outsized punch in the craft beer scene with its landmark breweries and bold flavors. In 1873, the German lagers of Wilmington’s Diamond State brewing rose to dominance. After Prohibition and the bust of the first craft beer bubble, entrepreneurial homebrewers resurrected the industry. Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head led the charge by rewriting the state’s beer legislation, and the field opened to other brewpubs like Stewart’s and Iron Hill to pair savory bites with their brews. By 2009, production breweries like 16 Mile and Fordham & Dominion were on the rise, changing the arc of Delaware beer. Beer writer Tony Russo tells a story of big risks and innovative brewers and proves that there has never been a better time to drink local.

(Click on release to enlarge to full screen)

Delaware Beer

You can pre-order “Delaware Beer” from the following locations:

Amazon.com

Arcadia Publishing