Delaware Beer News – Four DE Brewers to Join Sierra Nevada’s Beer Camp

Four breweries from Delaware will participate in the Mid-Atlantic edition of Sierra Nevada’s Beer Camp being held on August 2nd at Penn Treaty Park, Philadelphia.  I’d like to thank Chris Crabb for sending this information my way.

PRESS RELEASE:

Beer Camp Across America Update!
Four Delaware breweries have signed on to join fellow brewers and beer lovers at Sierra Nevada’s Beer Camp Across America, an unprecedented traveling beer festival that will take place later this summer. Nearly 700 craft brewers from around the country have already signed on for the multi-weekend event; anticipating more than 1,300 total craft beers on tap, collectively representing almost every state in the union, Beer Camp Across America promises to be the largest craft beer celebration in history.Delaware’s own Stewart’s, Dominion, Twin Lakes & Argilla are all making the trek to the Mid-Atlantic edition, taking place August 2 at Penn Treaty Park in Philadelphia.
We’re hoping you’ll share Beer Camp Across America with your readers so that even more people will know about this monumental adventure and start making travel plans! 

Beer fans are snatching up tickets for each of the seven events at www.SierraNevada.com/BeerCamp (see schedule below). Each festival will feature up to two beers per brewery, food vendors, and live music by the MarchFourth Marching Band spectacle.

Let me know if you have any questions or if I can provide further information. Cheers!

Chris

Chris Crabb
503-314-7583
#beercamptour

Beer Camp Across America Schedule

• Sat, July 19th: Northwest Edition at Sierra Nevada Hop Field in Chico, CA, 12-5 p.m.
• Sun, July 20th: Southwest Edition at Embarcadero North in San Diego, CA, 1-6 p.m.
• Fri, July 25th: Rocky Mountain Edition at Civic Center Park in Denver, CO, 5-10 p.m.
• Sun, July 27th: Midwest Edition at Navy Pier in Chicago, IL, 12-5 p.m.
• Fri, August 1st: New England Edition at Thompson Point in Portland, ME, 5-10 p.m.
• Sat, August 2nd: Mid-Atlantic Edition at Penn Treaty Park in Philadelphia, PA, 12-5 p.m.
• Sun, August 3rd: Southeast Edition in Mills River, NC, 1-6 p.m.

Kennett Brewfest 2012

Last Saturday was the 15th annual Kennett Brewfest.  The event, which started in conjunction with the Kennett Mushroom Festival and was held in what was little more that an alleyway type street between two buildings, has turned into one of the premiere beer events in the area.  Ninety plus brewers and representatives turned out to pour for a crowd of 3000+ people at the current location at Genesis Health Ventures.

The brewfest started at 12 noon for those of us who were lucky enough to get Connoisseur Tickets.  The Connoisseur tasting has only been part of the festival for 10 years, but in that time it’s practically turned into an event all its own.  More than thirty of the brewers that were there that day started early as they poured specialty, unique and small batch offerings, many of which were not going to be available at the main tasting.  Brewer Hill Farmstead, whose beers normally don’t make it any further than their gift shop as far as distribution, showed up to pour two of their beers, Vera Mae (a saison made with spelt and wild flower honey) and Ephraim (a nice imperial pale ale) for this event only as they were not participating in the main tasting.

(Clockwise from bottom) A look down Connoisseur’s row; the line around the back of the complex waiting to get into the regular tasting; looking down the back row of the tasting.

I walked in with a game plan as usual, although I was wondering how I was going to balance all the Tweeting, Untappd, picture taking and note taking I wanted to do.  Very quickly I decided to discard all the social media and focus on the beers and the people around me.  Several members The Delaware Craft Beer and Wine Lovers were there, and Dogs of Beer Co-Founder Chuck was along, marking the first time the two of us had been together for a beer festival in quite a while.  So Tracey and I were looking forward to hanging out with friends and enjoying what we assumed would be an awesome display of beers.

And the tasting didn’t disappoint.  After first stopping at Hill Farmstead we walked around the tents trying beers like Dark Horse’s Fore Smoked Stout, Ommegang’s Scythe and Sickle Harvest Ale, Round Guys’ Old Grumplestilskin, Evil Genius’ Trick or Treat Chocolate Pumpkin Porter, Jester King’s Petit Prince, Troegs’ Scratch #76-2012 special HOPS, and Maine Beer’s Peeper Pale ale just to name a few.  In our travels we also stopped in to check out some favorites of ours such as, Allagash’s Curieux, Stillwater’s As Follows, and Flying Fish’s Exit 4.

The Boulder Beer tent pouring during the Connoisseur’s Tasting.
(L) Twin Lakes in the house. (R) The server for Twin Lakes lets me have a peak of the Festival from her perspective.

If the Kentucky Derby is the fastest 2 minutes in sports, then the Connoisseur tasting at the Kennett Brewfest is the fastest 90 minutes in beer tasting.  Before we knew it, they were asking us to pull back for the 30 minute break between it and the opening of the regular tasting.

The regular tasting is just head spinning and I’m not even going to try and recap what we had (I still have a list of beers to check-in at Untappd), but I did succeed in making it over to Left Hand Brewing and Voodoo Brewing.  We did take some time during the regular event to stop by and say hi to the guys over at Argilla Brewing (their first Kennett Brewfest) and then go over and chat for awhile with the folks from Twin Lakes (Brewfest pros).  It was great to see the state represented so strongly (Dogfish Head and Old Dominion were also in attendance) and to see people frequenting their tents.

When you go to beer festivals do you see “the pretzel people” as well, or is just a regional thing near us?
The Fegleys Brew Works station.
Delaware Craft Beer and Wine Lovers (clockwise from bottom) It didn’t take Brian and Rob long to find the bacon on a stick; The Dogs of Beer talking beer; Pat and Dana stop for a picture.
(L) Where ever you go, it always seems that Guinness is served with a smile. (R) Me talking to the guy from Evil Genius.
(Clockwise from bottom) Steve and Pete from Argilla Brewing setting up; Chuck and I talking to the folks at the Twin Lakes tent; Argilla Brewing head brewer Steve Powell takes a picture with a guy who by that time was probably feeling pretty darn good.
The servers at the Old Dominion Brewing tent.
(Clockwise from bottom) Voodoo Brewing’s station; a nice selection from the guys at Voodoo; a toast to another great Kennett Brewfest!

The Kennett Brewfest seems to grow every year, but when I asked Mary Hutchins of “Historic Kennett Square” what she thought of this trend she indicated that for the immediate future, they were happy with where they are as an event.  “At this point we have reached our maximum with the number of brewers and attendees.  So, we will work at keeping the model the same for the next few years.  On Saturday we had 92 brewers, the most we have ever had and we think the number worked well”, she said.

Another change for the festival this year was the date.  The event is usually held the first weekend in October, but to the surprise of some it fell on the last weekend in September this year.  “I always try to avoid the GABF just because I know some brewery staff that attend Kennett would be in Colorado instead and I want them here”, said event founder Jeff Norman when I asked him about the change. “This year they are the weekend of Oct 13 (they are usually the end of Sept). Oct 6 is the Kennett High School Homecoming football Game so that was not an appropriate mix as they are right across the street.  I believe our preference for next year will be Oct 5, 2013. We will coordinate with the school.”

A lot of people come together every year to make possible the Kennett Brewfest which benefits “Historic Kennett Square” a 501-C3 non-profit organization committed to making Kennett Square a social, cultural and economic center; and Jeff was quick to thank them all, “The Borough of Kennett Square; the Kennett Square Public Works Dept; the Kennett Square Police Dept.; Genesis Health Ventures who provides the site for the fest; the Board Members of Historic Kennett Square; the Brewfest Executive Committee , a group of people who put in a huge amount of volunteered time;  Waywood Beverage for staging and delivering about 80% of the beer for the day;  our sponsors; our day of event volunteers; the musical acts and food vendors; of course the breweries that keep coming back year after year; and finally folks like you and our other patrons that support our organization through this festival.”

I’d like to echo Jeff’s appreciation for all those who come together make this event happen, and thank Mary and him for taking some of their valuable time to talk to me.

See you next year!!

The Local Tap – Argilla Brewing’s Five Gallon Fridays

A black wit and pizza at Argilla Brewing

Probably one of the basic truisms in brewing is that, what ever size system you put in, sooner or later you’re going to want a bigger one.  And of course, sooner or later you hope you’re going to NEED a bigger system.  After all, building a thirsty customer base is what it’s all about.

So when Steve Powell dropped a 1.5 barrel system (for those who don’t have all that “conversion stuff” in your head, that means every time Steve brews he only makes 3 half-kegs of beer) into Pietro’s Pizza’s new Kirkwood Highway location and started up Argilla Brewing, he probably hoped that one day, he’d need a bigger system.  And maybe that time has come.  Steve has been so busy brewing at Argilla that he recently brought in some additional fermenters and brewer Bryan Taylor to help out with the load.

But even though Steve appears to be looking towards “bigger”, he’s also focusing on “smaller” through his Five Gallon Fridays.  The concept is simple, every week Steve brews a five gallon batch of beer (equivalent to the size a home brewer would make when first starting out) and then several weeks later taps it at 5:30 on Friday.  The size gives Steve the flexibility to try new ingredients and techniques allowing him to do what amounts to small scale test batches.

Small batch experimental beers aren’t anything new in the brewing world, lots of breweries do them.  But when you stop to think that most brewery’s “small batches” are magnitudes bigger than Steve’s regular output, it’s pretty amazing.

Juice De’Wit, a white ale brewed with the peels and juice of tangelos.

I’ve been stopping into Argilla on regular basis to check out the Five Gallon Friday beers, and I have to say I’ve been very impressed with them.  And so must the rest of his customers considering that the 5 gallon beers tend not to last to long.  The most recent one (Bryan’s first contribution to Argilla), an Oktoberfest, kicked in 1 hour and 15 minutes, beating the previous record held by a Honey Habanero (no lie, no one was more shocked than Steve) by 15 minutes.

An Oktoberfest from a recent Five Gallon Friday.

Of course doing small batches for the sake of small batches is one thing, but the overall goal is to find recipes that Steve can then scale up and offer on a regular basis.  When I asked him how his success has been so far he replied, “Yeah we just brewed up a big Juice [De’ Wit] yesterday. It is our first 5 gallon Friday to make the leap. The Honey Habanero was also a big hit but we’re working on scaling up the proper pepper ratio before we brew a 1.5 barrel batch.”

If you want to check out the exciting things Steve and Bryan are doing, stop on by to Argilla Brewing.  If it’s a Friday, chances are I’ll be there.  You can also check out Argilla Brewing at the  Kennett Brewfest and The Delaware Wine and Beer Festival.

The Local Tap – Argilla Brewing, Visit #2

The Board at Argilla

Last Friday the Delaware Craft Beer and Wine Lovers group met at the newest, and smallest, brewpub in Delaware – Argilla Brewing (Web : Facebook : Twitter).  Steve Powell opened the brewery in March as part of Pietro’s pizza’s new location on Kirkwood Highway.  This was Tracey and I’s second visit to the brewery, just about a month from our first visit.

It was really good!

First, let’s get a few comments about the food out of the way.  On our first stop here we found the pizza good, although our in-house pizza reviewer (my daughter) thought it was light on toppings.  Not the case this time!  Our “Kennett” pizza ( fresh mushrooms, onions and roasted red peppers) came out hot, crisp and covered with toppings.  The combo was excellent with a nice tasting sauce and plenty of cheese.  The chipolte stout BBQ wings we ordered had a great flavor and mild heat.   But I’m going to be honest, any comment I make on the food is irrelevant.  Why?  Because by 7:30 the place was packed.  I’m mean seriously packed.   Obviously someone out there thinks this place is plating up killer food and apparently I’m the last one in Delaware to find out.  So let’s get to the beer (which after all is what I pay myself to do).

The first thing on the board that grabbed my attention was a Belgian bitter (5.8% ABV).  The beer was well balanced with both the Belgian and bitter influences apparent.  To be honest I didn’t take a lot of notes on it as I was content at the moment to just sit there and enjoy it.

Argilla’s 1.5 barrel brew system

The next beer was Gleason’s Cream Ale (4.5% ABV) which I had on my first visit.  As I said then, I’m usually not a fan of nitro for anything other than stouts, but it really does marry well with a Cream Ale.  The reduced carbonation gives the beer a mouth feel deserved of the description “cream”.  This is a beer you could drink a lot of, which I believe is what the guys at Argilla were shooting for.

Next was the Amber (5.0% ABV), which had the malt profile you’d want in an Amber with just enough bitter on the back end to balance it out.  Argilla toasts some of the grains in their pizza ovens for this beer, giving a nice tie in between the beer and food sides of the the business.  It rocked with the pizza.  Although I really enjoy the Cream Ale, I’d have to say that this is my favorite beer Argilla is producing right now.

Future beer in the waiting.

Finally I had the Citizen Pale Ale which, with notes of grapefruit and spice that make me think of cascade or columbus hops, is about as defining example of an American style pale ale as one could ask for. Another solid beer.

A quick poll around the group came to the same conclusion.  Everyone seemed be enjoying the beers, finding more than one on the board that they liked.  Argilla does have commercial guest taps (again solid beers in the 5-6% range, nothing huge) for those who prefer them.  But as I glanced around the bar it seem that the majority of  people were drinking those produced in house.  Another nice testament to a brewery.

It’s become to easy in the current craft beer market with it’s trend towards 8+% ABV beers with a myriad of flavors running around in your glass to forget that there is a lot of room between the 5%ABV megaswill and a well crafted 6.0% beer for a brewer to focus on, and indeed shine (and I’m as guilty as the next person in that regard).  At the moment, that’s where Argilla seems comfortable playing.  Their beers are clean, on point as far as style and accessible, which is all anyone can ask.  These are beers that will fit in well with a meal out with friends or family, without being to heavy or distracting.

This is the part where I’m supposed to encourage you give them a try, but by the look of the crowd on Friday it appears that you already have.  I will encourage you then to keep supporting Argilla Brewing, they’re representing the craft beer scene in Delaware well.

[NOTE – Steve Powell contacted me after learning we were coming.  Sadly he wasn’t going to be there that night but offered that his manager would be more than happy to take us back and show us their brewing set up.  But since the place was so busy, I decided not to pull anyone away from doing their jobs.  But I thank Steve for the consideration.  Hopefully next time!]

The Local Tap – Argilla Brewing Company

[Edit:  Not long after I posted this I checked up on Argilla’s social media and found that they were hustling to make more beer because their initial demand was so great.  Way to support a local brewery Delaware!  Keep it up!]

[Edit: Thanks for stopping by.  If you want to see my review of our most recent stop at Argilla’s, you can find it here.]

I’ve talked a couple of times on this blog about how some things go well together but one of the best pairings I can think of is pizza and beer.  So when I found out that local pizza maker Pietro’s was opening another location (2667 Kirkwood Highway Newark DE, the site of the old Gray Fox) in my area AND that they were dropping in a 1.5 barrel brewery named Argilla Brewing (Facebook : Twitter), well of course I kept my eye open.  After several miscues Tracey and I (along with my daughter) finally got a chance to stop in and check them out.

The day we showed up at Argilla they had three of their own beers on tap; an IPA, a cream ale and a rye stout.  First, let me say that I found all the beers clean with no off flavors.  It’s important with a place first starting out that their process is tight and clean, and at this point Argilla’s seems to be.  There’s also nothing earth shattering here.  The beers were good, straight forward interpretations of their style, none of which blew me away.  However, I won’t take that as a negative.  They’re just starting out so brewing consistently clean beer is the goal at this point.  They can tweak and play with the product later, once they’re comfortable with their new set up.  And with a 1.5 barrel system, I hope they tweak and play often.

The IPA I ordered was cloudy (expected, Argilla isn’t filtering at this point) with a nice hop aroma but could have benefited from a little more bite in the back end and a tab bit more carbonation I thought.  Normally I believe nitrogen should only be used for stouts.  However the cream ale Tracey ordered reminded me that it works very well with that style as well.  The ale definitely had that creamy, smooth mouth feel and tight head that you’d want in a cream ale plus a nice flavor.  Of the three, the rye stout was my favorite.  The brewery describes it as having chocolate and coffee notes, and indeed they’ve hit that perfectly. I don’t like coffee, so I normally don’t want big coffee flavors in my beer but this wasn’t over powering and played well with the chocolate.  Like I said; three decent, clean beers with not a clunker in the bunch.  Good first impression.

My daughter gave the pizza thumbs up.  She ordered a meatball, roasted garlic and spinach pizza and it arrived promptly and hot.  She thought the sauce was good and that the crust had a nice crunch to it.  But she also felt the pizza was a little thin on the toppings.  What can I say, my daughter loves her toppings, lol.

Sadly this was just a quick stop.  I hope to get back in there soon and hang out a little longer and maybe get a look-see at their set up.  If I do, I’ll be sure to let you know.  In the mean time if you’re in the area, give Argilla Brewing Company a try.  Watching a young brewpub grow into its own is one of the fun things about watching the craft beer scene.  Having one growing in your own backyard is really fun.

Time for another beer….and maybe a slice of pizza….

The Dogs of Beer. That’s our in-house pizza reviewer in the back.