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.

 

 

 

2013 Kennett Winterfest

GlassSome people would be content if they were Mary Hutchins, Jeff Norman and the rest of the team behind the annual Kennett Brewfest.  After all, when you’re the heart and soul behind one of the premiere beer events in the area, there really should not be anything else you feel compelled to do.  You have nothing to prove, nothing more you need to achieve, nothing at all.  That is unless you ARE Mary, Jeff and the rest of their team who, not much more than a week after this year’s awesome Kennett Brewfest with over 80 breweries, put this up on their Facebook page.

kennett 2

Not happy with just throwing one of the largest (and in my mind the best) beer festivals in our area, they decided to host another, this one in February featuring bigger beers that you’d find more commonly in the Winter months.  But instead of the large fall event they’re now know for, they decided to go back to their roots when that event was smaller and held in a side road off the main street in Kennett Square, invite a smaller number of brewers and cater to a smaller crowd.  The result – Kennett Winterfest.  Forty brewers and 800 beer lovers showed up on a drizzly, damp Saturday afternoon to have a great time, Kennett style, and to be honest no one really seemed notice the weather.

The crowd under the beer tent.
The crowd under the beer tent.

As I made my way into the festival, I first turned left and soon found myself sipping a Psycho Kilter from Starr Hill.  Starr Hill should be available in Delaware soon, and I encourage you to seek them out.  I then found myself in front of the Waywood Beverage table which was pouring Founder’s Breakfast Stout.  With its not so subtle hint of coffee, you’d think I wouldn’t like this beer but for some reason I do.  There’s enough chocolate in it to keep it from being a one trick pony.  This is a complex beer.  And excellent on a chilly day.

I then found myself in front of a table that I was very interested in, Kennett Brewing Company, and apparently I wasn’t the only one interested.  Early in the festival they easily had the largest crowd in front of their table.  I first tried their Scottish 140 Shilling ale.  I actually thought this was a bit on the light side, but in fairness I did just have a Breakfast Stout.  The beer tasted well made and clean.  I then went back for their 1934 Kid xxx Pale Ale, that I really liked.  I unfortunately didn’t get a chance to talk to much to the guys behind the table, but I did find out that they are looking for a location around Kennett Square.  I can’t wait to see what the future holds for these guys!

Argilla Brewing's Bryon Thomas visits the guys at Kennett Square Brewing.
Argilla Brewing’s Bryan Taylor (L) visits the guys at Kennett Square Brewing.

What followed was a parade of excellent beers.  I of course made my way over to Hill Farmstead to try their Harlan IPA, and again was not disappointed by the beer these guys are making.  I also got to taste Lancaster Brewing’s Double Chocolate Milk Stout, Lavery Brewing’s Imperial French Ale, DuClaw Brewing’s Sweet Baby Jesus Chocolate Peanut Butter Porter, and many others.  And I certainly was not going to leave without trying Port City Brewing’s second anniversary offering, Two: Stong Smoked Porter.  Awesome stuff.

LEFT: Lavery and Farm Hillstead.  RIGHT: Port City and Free Will.
LEFT: Lavery and Hill Farmstead. RIGHT: Port City and Free Will.

Of course I stopped in to see the local boys.  Pete, Steve and Bryan were pouring for Argilla, having brought their Mildly Rye and Panic Bar Porter.  I finally got a chance to try Twin Lakes’ Jubilicious Winter Ale, which I found quite nice.  And the guys were nice enough to give us a demonstration on how to get the last drop of Tweed’s Stout out of a firkin.

Pros!
Pros!

In a follow up conversation with Mary she wanted me to pass her thanks on to the brewers,  Nicole Grebloskie and the rest of the Historic Kennett Square fundraising committee and volunteer Jeff Norman, “who has been organizing the Kennett Brewfest since its inception 16 years ago and can now add the Winterfest to his list of highly successful events.”

Tulla's Table
And of course, huge thanks to Talula’s Table for providing the food!  Bacon mac & Cheese or Mushroom mac & Cheese.  Good stuff on a chilly day.

When asked about next year she said, “We were really pleased with the event this year and certainly plan to repeat it next year.”  In fact, since our exchange they’ve announced that the second annual Kennett Winterfest will be Feb 22nd, 2014.  But that doesn’t mean one should over look the next Kennett Brewfest, scheduled to be held on Oct 5th, 2013.

So now Mary, Jeff and the whole Kennett team can lay claim to hosting two amazing beer events.  Surely they’re content now.  Well, so you would think.  That is until 8 days after Winterfest when this got posted on Kennett’s Facebook page:

firkin

Here we go again 🙂

Five Beers I’m Looking Forward to Trying at the Kennett Winterfest

KSWFBack in September I wrote a post on the five breweries I though were “must visit” at the Kennett Brew Fest.  Well, Kennett is back, with a Winterfest this time, a stripped down, lean, mean version of its classic event.  Forty breweries, most of which are bringing two beers that would be appropriate on a cold February afternoon (the event is outside) and a crowd that was limited to 800 people.

Because of the reduced scale of this event, it didn’t seem right to select a handful of breweries I’m looking forward to visiting, no in this case I think it’s easy enough to zoom right in on the beer.  So here is my list of five beers I’m looking forward to tasting, and just for the hell of it, one brewery whose table I’ll definitely be spending some time at.

HILL FARMSTEAD, HARLAN IPA – If you read my preview on last year’s Kennett Beer Fest, you know that I was really eager to taste the beers of this brewery since so few of them get distributed any further than the gift shop attached to their Vermont brewery.  And after getting a chance to try their Vera Mae (a saison made with spelt and wild flower honey) and Ephraim (imperial pale ale) I can say I am totally looking forward to trying their Harlan, a Columbus dry hopped take or their IPA, Edward.  Sadly it appears to be the only beer they’re bringing, or the second one would be on this list as well.Founders

FOUNDERS, BREAKFAST STOUT – I’m not going to lie, I’ve had Breakfast Stout before, but the beer just haunts me.  I don’t know why.  Maybe it’s the name play that assures me that, yes Ed, it is ok to crack open a beer at 9am.  Or maybe it’s the 50lbs of chocolate chips and 100lbs of broken big chocolate bars that go into every batch that gives this beer a chocolaty background that would satisfy any cacao junky.  Or maybe it’s the coffee.  Ok, it’s probably not the coffee.  But whatever the reason, I’ll have to taste it again.

STARR HILL, PSYCHO KILTER – Beer confession time!!  You can keep your IPAs and Stouts, give me a porter or a Scotch Ale any day.   Ok, I want some of your IPAs and stouts too, but I do love a good Scotch Ale.  And since we’ve been waiting patiently for Starr Hill to come into Delaware, I think this would be a good time to stop by their table and check out this 9.3%ABV glass of malty goodness.  I’ll probably visit the table more than once.

FEGLEY’S, RUDE ELF – To my memory, I’ve never had Rude Elf even though I’m very aware of it.  Fegley’s and Troeg’s got in to it a little some years back when Troeg’s was trying to get a legal hold on the word “Elf” even though Fegley’s had already been producing Rude Elf for some time.  The whole thing got elfing crazy for a bit, and to be honest, I don’t know any of the details, I just know that both breweries continue to produce under the two names, so someone must have come to their elfing senses.  So I guess I’ll make sure I get to Fegley’s booth and see what all the elfing fuss is about.

PORT CITY, TWO! STRONG SMOKED PORTER.  When Port City Brewing turned one year old, they brewed an Imperial Belgian Stout.  Well now they’re two, and they’ve whipped up a strong (10%) smoked porter to mark the occasion.  I’ve heard some nice things about this Alexandria Virgina brewery.  I’m really looking forward to toasting their birthday with a glass of this beer.

And the brewery goes to :

kbcKENNETT BREWING COMPANY – I know nothing about these guys.  They have a Facebook page and appear to be gearing up to open a brewery somewhere in Kennett Square.  I’ll definitely be stopping by their table to see what’s up!  They’ll be pouring beers with names like Scottish 140 Schilling (have you been paying attention) and 1934 Kid XXX Pale Ale, so I’m totally interested in tasting what these guys are brewing.

And that’s a quick run down of what I’m looking for.  Of course, there will be plenty of other beers around to try as well.  It looks like it’s going to be another great beer fest in Kennett.