It May Be In PA, But You Can Still Get Your Delaware On at Kennett Brewfest

Tomorrow, October 13th marks the 21st time that Kennett Brewfest will open its gates to the beer loving public. While many fine festivals have materialized during those 21 years (and yes, sadly some have ceased) Kennett has grown into what I consider the template for a successful beer festival.

From the food, to the music, to the sheer number of breweries, to even something as simple as having more than enough (free) water available, Kennett gets it right year after year. But what really raises the bar for this festival is its VIP session which it dubs the “connoisseur session”.

While other festivals VIP tickets get you into the event early, Kennett requests that the breweries participating in the connoisseur season bring something special, something unusual, or maybe even something rare, to pour during the one-and-a-half-hour period before the regular session begins.

To be honest, with in the neighborhood of 50 breweries (just about half of the total attending) pouring during this year’s connoisseur session, it is practically its own festival and this year, Delaware is nicely represented.

Below is an edited map for the connoisseur session highlighting the Delaware breweries that are participating this year, plus a quick rundown of what they will be pouring. Click here for a full map from the festival’s website, and if you were unfortunately not lucky enough to get connoisseur tickets this year (although they didn’t sell out nearly as fast this year as they have in the past) but you have tickets to the regular session, you can find that map here.

KBF 2018

If you’d like to print out the Delaware Map, simply click here, right click on the image and select view image. Then print from your browser, or you can copy the image or save it and print it from you favorite graphics program.

Here’s what these Delaware breweries are planning on pouring at the connoisseur session (notice: plans change last minute and so sometimes do the offerings, so don’t take this list as written in stone). These breweries will also be pouring in the regular session (again, subject to change) along with fellow Delaware representatives Wilmington Brew Works, Twin Lakes, Dogfish Head (Seaquench, Liquid Truth Serum), and Dewpoint.

Argilla Brewing: Tent 113 – Will be bringing their Dregs of the Earth, a barrel aged sour which currently rates a 3.83/5 on Untappd.

Bellfonte Brewing: Tent 111 – Will be bringing their Claymonster, which has been described as “One Helluva BIG Dark Strong Belgian Ale!” (10.2%ABV). With nearly 100 check ins on Untapped, Claymonster has a rating of 3.8/5.

Brick Works: Tent 124 – Will be pouring their Love Vigilante Biere De Garde, a recent offering from the brewery with the beer being added to Untappd as recently as September. It doesn’t have many ratings yet, but sits at a respectable 3.6/5.

MIspillion River: Tent 123 – No word yet on what MR will be bring to the festival, but if the past is any indication, we shouldn’t be disappointed.

Rebel Seed Cidery: Tent 83 – Hey, cider is more than welcome at a beerfest, and if you’re the type that can’t get enough pumpkin in your diet this time of year the fine folks from Marydel have you covered with their Pumpkin cider (3.73/5).

2SP Brewing: Tent 90: – OK, I know, Aston PA. but come on…we still consider Mike and the gang as family, right? The guys will be pouring two beers: Uísque Fumaça, a smoked beer (4.09/5) and their recently brewed High Strangeness, a session IPA (3.69/5).

Looking at the Connoisseur’s Tasting for the 20th Kennett Square Brewfest – Map Included

– I’ll totally judge your brewery by just your porter!

KSBFWhen Jeff Norman visualized 20 years ago the event that would become the Kennett Square Brewfest, beer festivals at that time were like Wawa’s and cellphone towers – you could drive for miles and miles without running into one.

Fast forward today, and just like my examples above, brewfests have become something that you only have to drive over the next hill before you come across the next one.

But although brewfests have become more common, I always maintain that not all brewfests are created equal and to that point, I’ve never made any apologies that I consider the Kennett Square Brewfest to be the yardstick against which I measure all other beer festivals.

And, to drill down even closer, the Kennett Square’s Connoisseur’s tasting is – if I may be so blunt – the total shit.

Every year beer festivals offer patrons VIP tickets, which usually get the holders into the festival for an hour or two earlier then the general admission  ticket holders, but Kennett has always done something different. Their tickets for their Connoisseur’s tasting gets you advanced entry to the event, but only for a select number of the breweries pouring for the festival. The trade off for this smaller selection of breweries is that they pour beers that will not be featured during the normal festival.  So in other words, it’s really a tasting unto itself – and unlike some festival’s VIP tickets, worth the extra money.

With the whole festival at 110+ brewers strong, and although I’ve attempted to do so in the past, doing any kind of pre-event run down is a daunting task to say the least. So  instead, I want to turn my focus to only the Connoisseur’s tasting and a handful of beers that I’m looking forward to trying, and for the sake of keeping it interesting, let’s keep IPAs out of this….you’re OK with that right?  Good!

First, some details. This year Kennett joined up with Untappt to keep a running list of the breweries attending and the beers they’ll be pouring for both the regular and the Connoisseur’s sessions. So if you’re an IPA fan and are dying to know, click here. The links to switch between the two can be found just under the Kennett Brewfest logo. Tickets are still available for the regular session. You can purchase them here.  And finally, the Connoisseur’s tasting has moved! But don’t worry, they just moved it to the other side of the building, in the back section of the festival (see map below).

And that is just about all you need to know, so let’s look at some beer. My thoughts are in normal type, descriptions from the breweries (if there are any) are in italics.

Allagash Brewing Co. – St. Klippenstein

A Belgian strong ale from Allagash that I haven’t had before?? Yeah, I’ll have two, please. OK, maybe three. See you at the tent!

This full bodied beer is brewed with an array of dark roasted malts: dark chocolate malt, roasted barley, chocolate malt, and brown malt. After being hopped with Chinook and Northern Brewer, and fermented with a trappist-style yeast for a month in stainless, the beer spends three months aging in bourbon barrels. At the brewery, we celebrate St. Klippenstein day to commemorate our love of free ham, pot lucks, and big stouts. In honor, we brewed this Belgian-style stout aged in bourbon barrels. Rich cocoa brown in color, the first sip of this beer opens with a complex chocolate and roasted aroma. Notes of vanilla, coconut and oak infuse the palate and lead to a smooth, warm finish.

Conshohoken Brewing Co. – Viking Funeral

Who doesn’t like a smoked beer? OK, many people, but my love for BBQ means that although I might not enjoy it, if you put smoke in your beer I absolutely need to try it. This will be one of my first go-tos.

Viking Funeral is a Rye Whiskey Barrel Aged Smoked Honey Ale. This beer defies description. We brewed it with pale, munich, light crystal and smoked malts, then added 60lbs of local wildflower honey. Deep, smokey and incredibly hard to define, Viking Funeral is smooth and incredibly easy to drink, even at 10.9% ABV. Sharpen your axe and groom your beard, Vahalla waits.

Merchant du Vin bringing – Yorkshire Stingo

An English Strong Ale? Yes, please! Admittedly this probably won’t be the most remarkable beer I’ll try this day, but try it I will, and like it I probably will.

Some of the oak casks at Samuel Smith’s date back more than a century with the individual oak staves being replaced by the Old Brewery coopers over the years. Gradually the casks soak in more & more of the character of the ale fermented in stone Yorkshire squares. Yorkshire Stingo is aged for at least a year, matured in these well-used oak casks in the brewery’s underground cellars deriving fruit, raisin, treacle toffee, Christmas pudding and slight oaky flavours, before being further naturally conditioned in bottle.

Mispillion River Brewing – Pound Town

One of my favorite breweries in Delaware is bringing one my my favorite styles, an imperial porter!!! I’ll see you at the tent! I’m going to have more than one of these.

Ship Bottom Brewery – Barnacle Bottom W/ Peanut Butter

A stout with peanut butter? I know it’s not everyone’s glass of beer but I’m definitely in for a taste.

St. Boniface Brewing – Chocolate Porter Firken

I’m not a fan of what firkens have become here in America, but if done with restraint, and admittedly, chocolate, well, I’m willing to give it a try. But I’ll admit, I’m a little dubious with the “hints of coffee”. Hopefully it’s just a hint.

Firkin – Rich chocolate notes with hints of coffee & vanilla beans

ZeroDay Brewing Co. -Midnight Angel

I’ve had a love for ZeroDay after I named them one of my five breweries to look to at a previous Kennett Brewfest and I was not disappointed. This year for the Connoisseur tasting, they’re bringing a Russian Imperial Stout. I’ll admit I’m not normally a fan of beers aged in bourbon barrels, but with this brewery, I’m willing to give them at least a taste.

Aged for a year in Kentucky bourbon and rye barrels blended to perfection Hobbies: Sexy Mother Russia, Submarines, Making snow angels

And that’s the run down. We’re looking forward to this event as we do every year. I’ll be wearing my usual festival clothes, a Monty Python and the Holy Grail “Killer Rabbit” shirt and a black fedora and Tracey will be wearing her festival straw hat, so if you see us, come up and say hello, and point us to the best beer you’ve tried so far. After all, that’s a large part of the fun of tastings – seeing what everyone else is enjoying..

See you Saturday!

To print the map click on it and then right click and either “save image” or “copy image” and paste it into your favorite picture program. It will be larger than it appears here.

Conn Map 2017



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.

It’s Beer, Wings, and BBQ at the 2017 Colonial BBQ Competition!

CBC TagThe Colonial BBQ Competition in Historic New Castle returns this Friday/Saturday for its second year.

The event last year left a sour taste in some attendee’s mouths due to some first-year road bumps that Michael Quaranta and a group of hard working volunteers have been trying very hard to fix for their second go around of the Kansas City Barbecue Society sanctioned competition.

The two-day event kicks off Friday evening  at 5pm with a combination craft beer/chicken wing event on The Green that will see 12-15 BBQ teams via for the People’s Choice Award for best BBQ, and YOU get to be the People. For $5 you’ll get to sample five wings of your choice and don’t be afraid to purchase another five because the event managed to acquire 225 pounds of wings for the event thanks to Mountaire and The Restaurant Depot.

The craft beer event will feature some local favorites such as Twin Lakes, 16 Mile, and Third Wave, as well as Grand Rapids, Michigan favorite Founders Brewing, which just recently started to distribute in Delaware. For those who like something light with their BBQ, Miller will also be on tap.

Saturday’s big event has the gates open at 12 noon, entry fee is $10 and Michael and his team have worked hard to ensure that there is adequate food available for all the BBQ lovers who attends.

“Saturday we’ve got 4 food vendors, including two locals (Locale Post, Philippine Smoke), and two retired competitors selling BBQ. In addition, the Restaurant Depot and Mountaire contacted 125 pounds of chicken leg quarters, so the good kids at Howard High and the culinary program, will cook and sell these as a way to make the school program a few bucks. We had 3 bbq vendors last year, and this year we have 5…and the two that [are coming back from] last year are bringing much more food”, Michael told me in a Facebook conversation.

Pork and chicken await the crowd at last year’s Colonial BBQ Competition.

Saturday’s beer lineup will be similar to last year with $5 still getting you a 16oz pour, with the highlight being local Smyrna brewer Blue Earl on hand offering their Blues Power, Honey Suckle, and Walking Blues brews. Bud, Bud Light, Goose Island IPA, and Blue Point Toasted Lager will also be available and Michael want me to inform everyone that last call is at 4:30!

Michael and his team seem to have really put time and effort into evolving their event past the obstacles and problems of last year. With any new event like this, there are bound to be growing pains, and Michael even conceded that there will probably be new ones this year, but asked people to be patient, “It will be fun. We’ll have screw ups again this year, and it won’t be until year three or four when we have worked out most of the kinks….but we’ll get there!”

Live music for the event will be provided Backlash, Federal Street and Blue Cat Blues Band.

The Colonial BBQ Competition supports the New Castle Charities, a nonprofit organization that assists area homeowners and improvements to Battery Park.

As always I would like to thank Michael for taking some of his valuable time to talk to me!

The Local Tap: What’s going on at the 2016 Odessa Brewfest

It’s almost the end of Summer here in Delaware and that means beer events are dropping onto the calendar like leaves from a tree. And one event not to be missed is the Odessa Brewfest set on the grounds of the National Historic Register, 246-year-old Wilson-Warner House.

We’ve attended Odessa since its inception (this year will mark the 3rd year for the event),  and have never been disappointed in Jeremy Hughes’ ability to put on a great festival. The location is phenomenal and Jeremy and his team do a great job making sure that Odessa is more than a run-of-the-mill brewfest.


And this year is no exception.

First, there will be awesome music throughout the event as jam band Rainbow Full of Sound (12-3pm) and three Odessa2014-8year returning raggae favorites Spokey Speaky (3-6pm), perform on the main stage.

After strolling around and enjoying the beers, wines, ciders, and spirits, take a break under one of the two shade tents and enjoy some of the food being offered by Cantwell’s Tavern and The Roaming Raven.

Worried it’s going to get hot? No problem, after you cool off under the misting tent, you can stop by the UD Creamery tent for ice cream.

After enjoying the main part of the festival, don’t forget to walk into the lovely back garden section (where more drink tents are available) and take in a set or two of Bruce Anthony‘s accoustic jazz/blues music (12-3pm) as well as Tony Mowen (3-6pm) on the garden stage. Perhaps some snacks from Delmarva Popcorn & nut Co. while you’re listening?

Odessa2014-5As with every year, the barn will provide an awesome backdrop for historian Rich Wagner. Make sure you grab a brew from one of the many breweries so you can sip on it while Rich and his wife demonstrate the art and drawbacks of brewing beer in the 18th Century.

Which beer? Well that’s up to you and there are plenty to chose from.

Delaware is again very well represented this year by breweries such as DFH, FoDo, Mispillion, Big Oyster, Blue Earl, 16 Mile, 3rd Wave and Twin Lakes.

Out of state favorites will include 2SP, Victory, Stone, Ballast Point (first time!), Bells, Evolution, Elysian, Firestone Walker, Oskar Blues and Green Flash just to rattle off a quick few.

Jeremy asked me to keep the beers being poured under wraps in case some last minute changes are made, however running down the list (and all things staying the same) I will say that you might want to make sure you make your way to DFH, Ballast Point, Duclaw, Shipyard and Two Roads-2Evil. But that’s just between you and me.

But of course, the ‘brewfest’ has never totally been about ‘brew’, so also make sure you check out what’s going on at Painted Stave, Dogfish Head Distillary, Harvest Ridge, Crowe Vineyards and (a favorite of ours) Paradox Winery.

When I first started covering Odessa, event co-ordinator Jeremy Hughes was very clear about the kind of event he wanted, “We wanted to create a beer festival that would separate itself from other beer festivals.  After attending quite a few of them myself, as well as many other types of festivals and events, I found that a beer festival can’t just be about beer.”

And once again Jeremy and his team have done just that.

….THE INFORMATION YOU NEED TO KNOW: (Odessa Brewfest Press Release)….

Ticket Information:Odessa2014-4

$70 VIP: (still available!!) early noon tasting, access to limited-quantity beers, and a food voucher. VIP tickets can be redeemed for future tours of the Historic Houses of Odessa.

$50 General Admission: gates open at 2 p.m. for ticket holders. (General admission tickets will be $60 on the event date.)

$15 Designated Driver: access to food, music and vendors, includes free soft drinks. Designated Driver tickets are only available at the gate, day of the event.

Purchase VIP and General Admission tickets online, at, or call 302-378-4119.

Time and Location:

12 p.m. to 2 p.m. – VIP Tasting
2 p.m. – General Admission
6 p.m. – All taps will close

Historic Houses of Odessa
Wilson-Warner House
202 Main Street
Odessa, DE 19730

Full Brewery List

2SP, 10 barrel, 16 Mile, 21st Amendment, 3rd wave, Allagash, Alpine, Ballast Point, Bear Republic, Bells, Big Oyster, Blue Earl, Blue point, Brooklyn, Dogfish Head, Fordham & Dominion, Duclaw, Elysian, Evo, Firestone Walker, Flying Dog, Flying Fish,  Golden Road, Goose Island, Green Flash, Harpoon, Heavy Seas, Lagunitas, Long Trail, Mispillion, Neshaminy Creek, New Belgium, North Coast, Ommegang, Oskar Blues, Otter Creek, Rar, Rebel Seed Cider, Rogue, Sam Adams, Schlafly, Shipyard, Sierra Nevada, Six Point, Smuttynose, Southern Tier, Soudts, Stone, Troegs, Twin Lakes, Two Roads, Victory, Virtue Cider, Yards.


The presenting sponsor for the third annual Odessa Brewfest is Wilmington Trust. Event and in-kind sponsors include Crouse Brothers, National HVAC Service, State Farm, Patterson Schwartz, Patterson Price, Delaware Today, and Dover Rental Tents & Events. Sponsorship opportunities are available and interested parties should contact the Historic Odessa Foundation for more information.


Volunteer Opportunities

Since not every brewery will be able to send a representative to pour beer, and help will be needed to keep the historic site clean, HOF and Cantwell’s Tavern are looking for volunteers for the day’s festivities. Prospective volunteers can call Cantwell’s at 302-376-0600.


For general and ticket information, as well as news and regular updates on participating brewers, visit or follow the Historic Odessa Brewfest at:

Official website:

Established in 2005, the Historic Odessa Foundation owns and operates The Historic Houses of Odessa, a 30-acre enclave of 18th and 19th century structures located in the town of Odessa, just two miles from DE 1 and just off U.S. Route 13 in southern New Castle County, Del. The historic buildings and gardens along with a well-documented collection of more than 5000 objects and furnishings offer a unique picture of Delaware’s colonial period in a rural village that played a vital part in America’s commercial history. The original town of Odessa, originally known as Cantwell’s Bridge, has retained much of its 18th century charm and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and home to a National Historic Landmark,and two National Park Service Network to Freedom sites.


The author would like to thank Jeremy Hughes for his time and information concerning this year’s Odessa Brewfest.

All Photos : The Dogs of Beer.

Disclosure: The author was compensated for this article with two VIP tickets. However, since Tracey and I believe in supporting our local festivals and their causes, we’d already purchased ours. The tickets will either be given to friends or used as give-aways on the blog. This compensation in no way influenced the content or tone of this, or future, articles.

THE LOCAL TAP – Constitution Yards Beer Garden

We decided to get out of the house Saturday night to check out the newly opened (for now) Constitution Yards Beer Garden down at the Wilmington river front.

The beer garden, which opened in Justison Landing Park last Friday hopes to become a destination for summer time (and beyond) folks looking for something to do outside the normal bar routine. The spot also hopes to be a place where families come to congregate and, much in the vain of the traditional beer gardens of early German immigrants, is both child and dog friendly.

In that regard, the CYBG really seemed to be fitting the bill on Saturday night with a nice mixture of young and old enjoying the amenities and games. People indeed brought their children who played in the large sand areas, and a few people did bring their dogs.

The location has an interesting vibe that goes well with the river front as its main perimeter is defined by stacked cargo containers. If you’re currently watching the TV series Containment, you know what I mean – minus the viral outbreak.

The initial draft beer list was pretty solid with local breweries Dogfish Head, 2SP, Victory and 16 Mile represented as well a Coors Light tap for people who prefer something lighter. The canned beer list was also pretty good although not as populated with locals (hello? Mispillion?). Pricing wasn’t bad with most beers running about $6. Wine and food (pub-style snacks, salads, burgers, sandwiches, and rotisserie chicken) are also available.

For now the CYBG has a temporary liquor license that will keep the location open until July 7th after which the beer garden will have to wait until a publicly open hearing by the Delaware Alcoholic Beverage Control due to various complaints from local residents about possible issues to see if it will be granted a biennial license.

Until then, the beer garden will be open this 4th of July weekend Friday 2pm until midnight, Saturday noon until midnight, Sunday noon until 9pm, and finish out its run Monday through Thursday the 7th from 4pm until 9pm.

Click on a photo below to view in slideshow mode.




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.

The Local Tap: Five Breweries I’ll be Visiting at The Kennett Brewfest

It’s time again for the (18th) annual Kennett Brewfest, and I’m particularly looking forward to this year’s due in large part to the fact that I had to miss last year’s because of a scheduling conflict.

But this year the beer Gods have smiled and Kennett and the Delaware Beer and Wine Festival have mercifully fallen on different weekends this year, which means if nothing else that Kennett Brewfest founder Jeff Norman won’t be sending me messages like “Sorry you are going to miss the Founder’s Kentucky Breakfast Stout tomorrow!!” a day before the festival this year.

Trash talking during beer festivals? Man, that’s rough.

But Jeff, Mary Hutchins and their amazing team have good reason to be a little cocky, after all over the past 17 years they’ve built one of the best (if not the best) craft beer festivals in the area (if not the surrounding area). The event out grew it’s original location in a side street of Kennett Square, PA (the same location that now hosts their annual Winterfest, I believe) and in the space of their new location of a parking lot in a healthcare complex has almost taken on a TARDIS like vibe – bigger on the inside.

In 2012 when I asked Mary about the size of the festival topping off at 92 breweries, she commented, “we think the number worked well.” But the next year the event grew to 105 and this year it appears that it will top off at around 110.

But the best thing about the festival is their constant attempt to rotate in new breweries, assuring that the festival never gets stale.

How do you navigate all of this? Well I always tell people that going into Kennett without a plan is like diving head first into a wood chipper – it’s not going to end well, and you’ll only have yourself to blame.

So every year, I take my advice and walk into the festival with a firm, deliberate plan to get the maximum amount of beer coverage with the least amount of damage. I’ll have the event mapped out; know where my key breweries are – the one’s I’ll be experiencing for the first time, along with local and not-so-local favorites.

I’ll know whose brewery tents I’ll want to stop at for a quick chat to see not only what’s going on there now, but hopefully get a little information about what might be coming up in the future.

It will be solid, brilliant plan. Just like every year. And just like every year it will probably all be tossed out the window by the end of the connoisseur’s tasting.

That being said, I do always try to have a hard list of a handful of breweries that I really need to check out. Some are based on reputation, some are based on personal desire, and some…well, some are just because. So for better or worse, here’s my annual list of the five breweries I’ll be trying REAL hard to stop at. If you’re going this Saturday, I’d love to hear yours.

With each brewery, I’ve included whether-or-not they’ll be participating in the connoisseur’s tasting. I’ve also included any beers that I know they’ll be pouring. Just remember some of the beers might be poured at the regular tasting and some might only be poured at the connoisseur’s tasting.

ALMANAC BREWING – Founded in 2010 by founded in 2010 by Jesse Friedman and Damian Fagan, this North California brewery has worked hard to justify its “Farm to Barrel” motto. The two partner with local family owned farms for the freshest fruit available for their seasonal beers, some of which ends up in oak barrels for further fermentation and aging. The craft beer buzz is strong with this one, seek it out I must.

Connoisseur’s Tasting: Yes
What they’re bringing: Pumpkin Sour – spiced brown ale, aged in wine and Woodford Reserve Bourbon barrels with hand-roasted California heirloom pumpkins (C).

HERETIC BREWING – I’m going to admit, I need to visit Heretic simply for my own curiosity, because even though the brewery is located in Fairfield, California I feel like it grow up in my presence.

The brewery is the project of Jamil Zainasheff, co-author of Brewing Classic Styles (Brewer’s Publications, 2007) and Yeast: The Practical Guide to Beer Fermentation (Brewers Publications, 2010), but it’s through his work as host of the “The Jamil Show” and “The Brew Strong” shows on the Brewing Network that I first encountered him.

During those shows he would often talk about the brewery, how things were going, what beers they’d like to make, that I said if I ever got the chance I’d definitely trying their beers. I missed my chance last year, but I’ll be correcting that miscue this Saturday.

Connoisseur’s Tasting: No

ZERODAY BREWING – I’ve been hearing and reading a lot about Zeroday including a couple of articles about co-owner/co-brewer Brandalynn Armstrong becoming a strong female player in the Pennsylvania brewing scene. Brandalynn and her husband Theo have built up quite a buzz out of their Harrisburg, PA brewery and I’m looking forward to trying some Zeroday beers.

Connoisseur’s Tasting: YES
What they’re bringing: A keg of their Phresh Hop APA made with fresh cascade picked 14 hours before the boil (R), and a firkin of their Blue Agave Saison – on Anejo Tequila soaked American Oak Chips (C).

BREW BUS BREWING – This brewing company actually started out under a different business model. The initial focus of Brew Bus was to host “leave the driving to us” brewery tours in the southern Florida area (much in the same way as our own Delaware Brew Bus). But when they received a license allowing them to serve beer on the bus, they couldn’t decide which brewery‘s beer to spot light, so they did the next logical thing – brew it themselves.

They have a good looking selection of beer, including an Irish red, a porter (2014 Bronze Medal, US Open Beer Championship), and of course, the requisite IPA. Sounds interesting.

Connoisseur’s Tasting: No

LEVANTE BREWING – As one of the newest breweries in the Chester County area, I don’t really think I have to explain this one. They’re the new kids that I haven’t had a chance to try yet, so I’ll definitely be making a stop at their tent. Ow, don’t get me wrong, I’ll be stopping at other locals like KSB and 2SP but I’ve heard some solid things about this brewery from some local area beer peeps, so I’ve got to check them out.

When I reached out to them about their first appearance at the fall Kennett Brewfest (they attended last January’s Winterfest), Eric Santostefano was greatly enthused about their chance to once again meet the local crowd, “We are very pumped to be a part of the KBF for the first time!  Looking forward to sharing our brews and story with a whole bunch of amazing folks from our area.  Levante had a blast at Winterfest and we are ready for the main event.”

Connoisseur’s Tasting: No
What they’re bringing: According to Eric, “We’ll be serving up our Pallido Pale Ale, Chief IPA, and we are very exited to share our Ranger Rye Ale with everyone as well.” (ALL R)


Hope to see you all there!!! (Photo Credit: Google Maps)

The Local Tap – What to Look For at the 2015 Odessa Brewfest

You still have time to pick up general admission tickets for this Saturday’s Historic Odessa’s Brewfest, the second iteration of last year’s newest beer festival to attempt to make a splash on the festival scene.

And believe me, it did. Situated on the on the grounds of the National Historic Register, 246-year-old Wilson-Warner House, the festival presented an amazing backdrop for the over 45 breweries and the over 1400 who walked pasted the volunteer manned entrance tables to experience the up to 6 hours (depending on the level of tickets purchased) of craft beer, wine and spirits that the festival was offering.

A couple of ladies chatting at the Odessa Brewfest.

Of course, the goal of any great festival should be to always improve upon the previous year which might be hard to do considering how good last year’s festival was, but event co-ordinator Jeremy Hughes and his team were up to the task. So let’s run down some of the highlights that this year’s attendees have to look forward to.

First the festival has increased it’s participation to over 55 breweries from around the US. Local favorites 16 Mile, 3rd Wave, Dogfish, Dominion, Evolution (Evo), Fordham, Frozen Toes (Pizza By Elizabeths), Mispillion River and Twin Lakes will be in attendance as well as US craft beer favorites 21st Amendment,  Allagash, Bells, Elysian, Evil Genius, Flying Dog,  New Belgium, Oskar Blues, Southern Tier, Stone, Victory, Weyerbacher, Yards and many others.

For those looking for something new locally, Smyrna’s Blue Earl Brewing, who attended last year only in a meet-and-greet capacity as Warlock Brewing will be attending this year pouring samples of their awesome beers.

On the national front, Delaware new comers Alpine Beer Company and Firestone Walker will also be pouring beers at their first Delaware beer festival.

And if you have not had a chance to try the continually sold out Not Your Father’s Root Beer, then Odessa will offer you a chance as well as the new addition to the alcoholic root beer craze Coney Island Root Beer.

James (C) and the folks from DOPS working hard as always.

If wine and spirits are more your thing, Odessa will have you covered again this year with Delaware Distilling, Harvest Ridge Winery, Painted Stave, Fenwick Wine Cellars, and Philadelphia Distilling.

However, when Jeremy was scouting other festivals in preparation of organizing his own, he noticed that the best ones offered more than just alcohol, “We wanted to create a beer festival that would separate itself from other beer festivals.  After attending quite a few of them myself, as well as many other types of festivals and events, I found that a beer festival can’t just be about beer.” [Quote from my review of last year’s Odessa Brewfest]

So of course, he was keen to improve upon those aspects of the festival as well.

To that end, Jeremy has upped the live music at the festival to two stages and four live bands including returning reggae evangelists Spokey Speaky, the contemporary country stylings of The Hung Jury, acoustic jazz and blues artist Bruce Anthony, and acoustic modern rock musician Bob Stretch.

Rich Wagner, colonial brewing historian and presenter will be one hand to demonstrate the art of brewing as it was in the 18th century.

Food will once again be an important part of the festival with Cantwell’s Tavern and The Roaming Raven food truck providing food to the attendees as well as cheese pairings from Fromage a Cheese Boutique, and ice cream from Hy-Point dairy.

The guys making the food happen inside the Roaming Raven.

Local artisans will also be a big part of the Odessa Brewfest including fine kitchenware from Paul Schiffelbein Woodworking and beer bottle crafts from Bottle Slumpers; Guy & Lady Barrel Cigars offering premium cigars from the Dominican Republic, and homemade jams and jellies from Fairview Farms.

Sound like a great time? It should. So if you’ve been on the fence as to whether-or-not to attend the Odessa Brewfest – hop off. Great music, food and beer are waiting for you.


For general and ticket information, as well as news and regular updates on participating brewers, visit or follow the Historic Odessa Brewfest at:

Official website:

Time and Location:

12 p.m. to 2 p.m. – VIP Tasting
2 p.m. – General Admission
6 p.m. – All taps will close

Historic Houses of Odessa
Wilson-Warner House
202 Main StreetOdessa, DE 19730 [MAP]

Ticket Information:

$50 General Admission: gates open at 2 p.m. for ticket holders.
$15 Designated Driver: access to food, music and vendors, includes free soft drinks.
Designated Driver tickets are only available at the gate, day of the event.

Purchase General Admission tickets online, at, or call 302-378-4119.

Along with the participating breweries, distilleries, wineries, artisans, musicians and festival attendees, Jeremy Huges and  his staff would like to thank:

Wilmington Trust – The presenting sponsor for the second annual Odessa Brewfest.

Event sponsors – Main Line Today and Delaware Today, Dover Rent All Tents & Events, SFG –Stecher Financial Group, National HVAC Service, Universal Mortgage and Finance, Inc., Mix92.9, WDOV Newsradio, WILM Newsradio and 94.7 WDSD.

The Historic Odessa Brewfest Benefits the Historic Odessa Foundation:

Established in 2005, the Historic Odessa Foundation owns and operates The Historic Houses of Odessa, a 30-acre enclave of 18th and 19th century structures located in the town of Odessa, just two miles from DE 1 and just off U.S. Route 13 in southern New Castle County, Del. The historic buildings and gardens along with a well-documented collection of more than 5000 objects and furnishings offer a unique picture of Delaware’s colonial period in a rural village that played a vital part in America’s commercial history. The original town of Odessa, originally known as Cantwell’s Bridge, has retained much of its 18th century charm and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and home to a National Historic Landmark,and two National Park Service Network to Freedom sites.

The author would like to thank Jeremy Hughes for his time and information concerning this year’s Odessa Brewfest.

All Photos : The Dogs of Beer.

Disclosure: The author was compensated for this article with two VIP tickets. However, since Tracey and I believe in supporting our local festivals and their causes, we’d already purchased ours. The tickets will either be given to friends or used as give-aways on the blog. This compensation in no way influenced the content or tone of this, or future, articles.

The Local Tap: Kennett Brewing Company’s Kickstarter Party

[Author’s Note: In an earlier version of this article I incorrectly wrote that the original second family in the KBC partnership “backed out”. This was not the case and the article has been corrected. I apologize to those involved for my error.]

Early last year I caught wind that Kennett Brewing Company had started a Kickstarter to help fund some things around their brewery. The Kickstarter claimed that they wanted the money to make upgrades on the bar and equipment beyond what they’d already had planned and although Kickstarters from breweries are sometimes meet (rightly or not) with dubious regard, I thought that this would be a good time to put my money where my enthusiasm is and picked a level that got me what I thought was a pretty good reward – membership in the mug club, a mug and an invite to a special pre-opening event to get a first look at the place – and donated.

And waited. A while.

But what must have seemed like a long time for me must have seemed like an eternity to Mark and Jossy Osborne, brewist (that’s what Mark’s business card reads) and owners of Kennett Brewing Company. It’s been over a year since their Kickstarter became fully funded; a time which saw them find a location at 109 S. Broad Street which is still undergoing renovations and the original two family partnership in the brewery reduce to one.

I met up with friend and PA beer lover Dave, and Delaware Craft Beer and Wine Lovers co-admin and craft beer traveler Dana to get a first look at the location and run through the beer list.

The location is interesting, occupying the lower level of a split level building that houses a rug shop above it but its close proximity to the State Street/Route 81 intersection puts it right in the heart of Kennett Square. The entrance still needs some work, but the potential is obvious as it gives off an almost speakeasy vibe.

Walking into the barroom, one can not help but to be struck by the L-shaped copper topped bar that runs down the wall opposite the door. The bar top plays well with the warm tones in the room, the black ceiling bringing down the brightness of the room a bit.

As always click on a photo to view them all in full size slide show mode:

But let’s talk about the beer. Dave and Dana both started with a Shrunken Head Skull Mind a 6.5%ABV IPA, while I immediately went for the Wee Wobbly Scottish 100 Schilling.  My initial thought was that it was a bit light, but others thought it was spot on, so your mileage may vary on that, but I urge you to try it.

Dave eventually made it to the Jammy Bastard while I worked down the list to the Bollocks Bayard Black Session IPA. The black PA/IPA style struck me odd when I first encountered it a couple of years ago, but to be honest I’ve found few that I didn’t like and this beer has so much going on under the hops that I was not disappointed. But at 5.2%ABV I’ll let others debate the “session” part of it.

By this time Dana was enjoying a Mighty Suskey Belgian Saison which I stole a sip of and then moved on to my own Jammy Bastard because I liked the sip I had of Dave’s to THEN move on to the Mighty Suskey because I liked the sip I had of Dana’s. That’s right I make my way down beer lists based on sips from other people’s beers.

The saison I thought was really good with hints spicy pepper; as well as dangerously drinkable at 8.5%ABV. This one ended up being my favorite beer of the night which brought a chuckle out of Mark as he told me later that he nearly dumped it.

All in all I thought the beers showed a consistent quality across the board and I can’t wait to see what KBC will do in the future. I’d like to see a little more diversity in the tap list in the future what with 5 out of their initial 8 beers on the tap list being pale ales or IPAs, but think that will happen as Mark and Jossy get comfortable in their new surroundings, build up a solid business and have the opportunity to experiment a bit more.

Click on the photo to enlarge (WARNING LARGE FILE). The weirdness is from panorama effects, not the beer. Promise.

I want to finish up (well almost) by saying that we found the staff friendly and helpful. They obviously were working out some kinks in their systems, but they were always pleasant. And if Mark and Jossy were feeling any pressure you sure wouldn’t have known it by the way they were smiling and joking about the air conditioning as they washed glassware in front us.

Businesses starting out always hit a bump or two, and at the end of the night we learned about a big one for Kennett. With everything going on, a miscue with the glazing of the mugs sadly caused them to be unusable by the brewery for its mug club. But I guess if that’s the worse thing that happens to KBC, they’ll probably consider themselves lucky. And besides, it just means I’ll be seeing mine more as it now occupies a spot on my kitchen shelf. But the mug club is still active with $1 off drafts and $2 off meals during happy hours (Tues-Fri 5-7pm).

I’d like to thank Mark, Jossy and their awesome staff for hosting a great event for everyone who donated to their kickstarter, and indeed raise a glass to everyone one who donated. It appeared to be greatly appreciated by Mark and Jossy.

Kennett Brewing Company is now open to the public and you can visit them at their normal hours of Tues-Thur: 3:00 pm-Midnight, Fri-Sat: Noon-1 am, and Sun: Noon-9 pm (Kitchen closes at 9:30 pm). I’m sure Dana will have the Delaware Craft Beer and Wine Lovers up there in future.




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