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.

Odessa2014

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 www.odessabrewfest.com, 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.

 Sponsors

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.

Odessa2014-6

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.

Links

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:          www.odessabrewfest.com
Facebook:                    www.facebook.com/odessabrewfest
Twitter:                        www.twitter.com/OdessaBrewfest

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. http://www.historicodessa.org

Odessa2014-9

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.

Five years, 300(1) Posts, and 1000 Beers – Part Two

Let’s continue my two part post by looking at my 1000th unique check-in on Untappd:

Many all-times ago, before the second coming of the age of craft, three strangers arrived into the Delaware valley. The strangers came from a land they called Indiana bringing gifts that bore strange names like Alpha King and Gumballhead. The strangers thrived in this land and after awhile the locals even managed to get over the odd fact that the three strangers had the same name, and simply reveled in the gifts they had brought.

Then one day without warning the strangers left, leaving nothing but barren shelves where their gifts once flourished. Many stories followed. Some said that the strangers grew tired of this land. Others said that the strangers went back to their homeland to fight a mysteriously dangerous threat referred to only as The Dark Lord. But where ever the truth truly lays the fact is that the strangers left, and soon became nothing more than the whispers that legends are built from.

To use a quote my grandfather was fond of, “that’s a true story, boy!” Embellished absolutely, but true none the less. At one time, Three Floyds WAS available in our local area. To what extent I don’t exactly remember, but I can tell you that it was readily available from State Line Liquors enough for one of 3F’s beers to quickly became one of my favorites.

But the story has a cautionary massage. I’m not sure if it’s “don’t get too attached to something because you’ll never know when it will disappear”, “a brewery can break your heart as easily as any woman”, or “don’t trust people from Indiana with beards”. But the warning is in there none the less.

Somewhere along the way, Three Floyds decided to pull back their distribution relegating them in the minds of the coming generation of Delaware area beer lovers as a distant memory that would continue to grow in mythology as a great fabled brewery whose beers were only accessible to those opportunistic privateers and scoundrels willing to brave the great uncharted distances – in other words, bottle traders and beer travelers.

three floyds de muerta
SAVVY?

The sting of losing a beloved beer from the shelves was bad enough but compounding the loss was the fact that tDoB co-founder Chuck and I had recently attended The Real Ale Festival at Goose Island Brewery in Chicago where we got to meet not only representatives from fledgling Delaware brewery Iron Hill, but Sam Calagione (new to the game himself) along with one of the owners of Three Floyds.

This was pretty much my first BIG event, having attend many regional festivals, and meeting someone responsible for the production of one of my favorite beers was quite the thrill, but alas, the swirling joy of Floydy goodness was not to last. Three Floyds’ departure was swift and furtive – think Robert Irsay’s smuggling of the Colts out of Baltimore. OK, maybe not THAT bad, but they were gone. The story was over.

Fast forward many years and enter Dana Dillon, beer lover, beer traveler and to steal a line from Bryan Roth just once, “friend of the program”. Getting ready for a recent trip back to her home stomping ground of Cleveland she asked me if she could bring me something back, and after telling me that she’d be able to get Three Floyds, the answer was easy – I wanted Robert the Bruce.

ALL HAIL THE BRUCE!
ALL HAIL THE BRUCE!

I love scotch ales, and The Bruce still resonates with me from back in the day when I could easily pick up six-packs from State Line liquors. So once she handed me the 12oz  bottle of my craft beer history, I knew exactly which beer would be my 1000th check-in on Untappd. The problem was that getting there proved more of a trek than it should have been.

I don’t check-in on Untappd as often as I should for many reasons that I won’t get into here. But my 1000th beer was on the horizon and I was determined to achieve and yes, even bask in this accomplishment. But one day back in April I found myself checking-in my 998th beer and well, got stuck.

Most people put a lot of thought into their 1000th beer, but since I already knew which beer mine was going to be, all I had to do was check-in number 999, cue the trumpets and let loose the pigeons.

I remember when my friend Kenny hit 1000. He was probably 6 beers away when he fancy walked into the liquor store to buy what he refers to as “uniques” and soared to it. Not me. Every time I went to check-in a beer I thought, “yeah….but if you check this one in, you’re going to have to drink that Robert the Bruce. Are you really ready for that? Because you’ll be locked up on Untapped until you do!”

God, first world dumbass problems. Just drink the damn beer, Ed!

But after a fun run-in with 3rd Wave Brewing’s Brambleberry that they brew for Jessop’s (really good!) for number 999 here we are after 5  years and 300 (well this one is 301, but you know what I’m saying) posts. Let’s drink my 1000th beer.

THEM: “A full-bodied Scottish-style Ale with a well-rounded malty profile and roasted biscuit-like notes. Style: Scottish-Style Ale IBU 24 ABV 6.5%.” (3 Floyds website)

THE BUZZ: Beer Advocate 87%, Rate Beer 96%,  Untappd 3.89

DELAWARE AVAILABILITY: You’ll need to enlist the services of a pirate.

ME: I was worried that this bottle might be a little old as Dana had given it to me quite a few months ago, but if it was indeed a little off than it only reaffirms my love for this beer – because it’s still damn tasty. From the first nuances of welcoming chocolate that are gently pushed aside by malt, biscuit, caramel and hints of brown sugar, to the well balanced hop finish. The  6.5% allows this beer to go down quite easily. Still close to perfect for me.

Thanks Dana! And thanks Three Floyds!

So now with beer 1000 firmly in the rear-view mirror it’s on to beer #2500 and the “Elite” badge. To be honest I’m not sure I’ll ever get to it, but if I do, I’ll let you know..

 

1000-beers
THE FINAL SIP: My second take using the screen from my badge list. I actually recorded me checking-in the beer and getting the badge, but that take had too much glare coming off the phone screen to be visible. EVEN THOUGH! I did three practice takes to make sure that very thing did not happen. Because…..idiot!

,

 

Five Years, 300 Posts, and 1000 Beers – Part 1

If you do something you enjoy long enough, every now and then an interesting intersection of events will occur. That happened last month when, not long after getting my notice from WordPress that I had survived reached my fifth year anniversary, I was going through my insights and noticed that my next post (this one) would be my 300th!

spa

NOPE! None of that! That’s waaaaay to easy.

I’m not going to lie (this time I’m not), this being my 5th year is a little bittersweet since as I look back I see that I haven’t been keeping up my posting rate this year as I have in the past – and I didn’t really have to look back to know that. The reasons for this decline are various and I thought I’d talk a bit about that, but after running several possible explanative paragraphs through my head I realized that none of that really matters to anyone but me.

Instead, I would much rather focus on some of the positive highlights of the past year (and a year or two leading up to it) especially in the arena of things I never thought I’d find myself doing when I started this blog.

I started out wanting to write a generic beer blog with touches of food, lots of reviews and a big helping of humor. Over the years, I learned that many readers who gravitated to my blog weren’t overly interested in that (or maybe in fairness they were trying to tell me that I wasn’t doing as good of a job as I thought I was).

It wasn’t until I realized that no one was really focusing on the explosive beer scene that is Delaware and turned my attentions towards it, that this blog started to take off (well ‘take off’ is relative, but remember my initial goal was not to quit after six months with nothing more to say).

BloggingCartoon5

What I found out (quite by accident) is that the people who were coming to my blog seemed to be more interested in the local beer scene and by extension, anything newsworthy that might be happening in it, than they were about another by-the-numbers review of a beer from Stone or Sierra Nevada.

Don’t get me wrong, the reviews were getting read but you could definitely tell that there was an elevated interest in what was going on, both good and bad, in the local beer scene.

When people kept tossing around the Brewer’s Association’s factoid that Fordham/Dominon was owned 51% by industry giant AB-INBev I decided to find out the truth and found myself interviewing FoDo CEO Jim Lutz about that very issue.

I’m no where near as comfortable with interviews as I am other aspects of the blog, but that initial discussion with Jim encouraged me to reach out to more people over the past year including Jeremy Hughes about the growing Odessa Brewfest , BBQ Competition organizer Sandy Fulton as to why New Castle BBQ competition’s buck-a-bone promotion never quite got off the ground and Mike Stiglitz about why his Two Stone Pubs in Delaware had to be re-licensed as brewpubs.

'By the way, is this off the record?'
Fun Fact! I’ve been told something was off the record three times. But that’s off the record.

The other thing I never envisioned when I started this blog was publishers reaching out to me with offers of advanced copies of beer and brewing related books. I’ve built a nice collection thanks to some very generous publishes and I’m currently trying to find enough time to finish Jeff Alworth’s The Beer Bible and hope to post a review when I do.

But it was when Arcadia Publishing reached out and asked if I wanted an advanced copy of John Medkeff Jr’s Brewing in Delaware for review that I was really quite taken aback with a “what? really?” feeling. The experience gave me the courage to actually request (and receive) an advance copy of Tony Russo’s Delaware Beer: Brewing in the First State

While this last year may have been short on posts, it was certainly not short on milestones; many as I’ve stated being things I never thought I’d be doing when I began this journey.

In the future? Hopefully more of these types of posts, plus a few food related topics like BBQ or pizza, and a sprinkle of pop culture. Oh, and reviews will be back, promise. Delaware is producing some amazing beers at the moment and I want to spread the word to beer lovers out there that Delaware is much, much more than just Dogfish Head (nothing but love for you DFH but come on, everyone knows who you are).

With Respects and Apologies to Berke Breathed
With Respects and Apologies to Berke Breathed

And the humor will still be here, well what passes for it here at least.

As always I want to thank every one who has taken the time to talk to me, especially the brewers and the owners who are willing to take so much of their valuable time to talk to a guy who merely writes about beer in a small mom and pop blog. I want to thank everyone who’s ever taken time out of their busy day to read something I’ve written, especially those who have taken the time to comment or share it forward.

And of course, thanks to Tracey who I can assure you at no time in her life before she met me did she think she’d be spending so much time at beer festivals or breweries. But between you and me, I think she gets a kick out of the people who now come up at events to say hello to her.

tracey

And of course….

Buddy Avatar 50MORE ME!!!

 

Well, I wouldn’t say more, but yeah… he’s not going anywhere. Wouldn’t be the Dogs of Beer without him.

Coming up next…Part 2, where I share some stories and thoughts about one of my favorite beers which is no longer available around here, Untappd, and the pitfalls of putting too much thought into that 1000th unique beer check-in.

Time for another beer.

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.

THE INFORMATION YOU NEED:

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:          www.odessabrewfest.com
Facebook:                    www.facebook.com/odessabrewfest
Twitter:                        www.twitter.com/OdessaBrewfest

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:

$70 VIP: SOLD OUT
$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 www.odessabrewfest.com, 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. http://www.historicodessa.org

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.

Book Review – Brewing in Delaware by John Medkeff Jr

BiD CoverIf you’re looking for a college dissertation-like accounting of the brewing history in the state of Delaware, then Brewing in Delaware the recent addition to Arcadia Publishing’s Images in America series written by Delaware beer historian John Medkeff Jr is not for you.

Think of the book less like a stuffy history lesson and more like a visual museum exhibit as you stroll past pages and pages of photographs collected from numerous historical sources and the author’s own private collection (many of which have never been published before) that are designed to take you through (what I’m sure will be surprising to some) Delaware’s rich history in commercial brewing starting from the state’s first colonies up to the present day.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty here for the history buffs as each photo comes with a very detailed caption that not only describes the subject of the photo, but explains how that subject fits into the overall narrative not only in the past, but sometimes in the present.

While the author covers many of the smaller establishments that operated during this time, the bulk of the book focuses on the histories of three of Delaware’s largest brewing concerns – Hartmann & Fehrenbach, Bavarian Brewery and Joseph Stoeckle Brewing Company from their rise to commercial success on the efforts of mostly German immigrants, to their fall at the hands of prohibition and national brand intrusion.

But while the book does contain a large number of photos covering the growth of these breweries as they moved from location to location, the author also does a very good job at revealing the faces behind these businesses, many of whom brought their love for beer from Europe and/or their experience in the beer industry from other cities in the US.

And of course, the book (sadly) finishes these stories with the all too familiar tale of breweries that struggled in the face of the 18th Amendment only to find more hurtles once it was repealed.

The timing for this book couldn’t be any better as Delaware has been enjoying a rebirth of commercial brewing over the past 20 years. In 2014 the Brewer’s Association ranked Delaware 19th on the list of states by breweries per capita with 11 – four more than it had in 2011. Add to that, breweries like Crooked Hammock, Midnight Oil, and Bellefonte Brewing which are waiting in the wings and it seems only fitting that the fourth and final section of the book takes a look at not only the early pioneers of modern day Delaware beer, but those who seem firmly positioned to guide it into the future.

Mr Medkeff avoids the obvious path by not spending too many pages on industry giant Dogfish Head, whose story has already be told in a thousand other places, but instead after a respectful few pages goes on to talk about others that were instrumental in reviving the craft of brewing in the state of Delaware and indeed it is great to see people like Jeff Johnson (Blue Hen Beer), Al Stewart (Stewart’s Brewing), Marty Haugh (Rockford Brewing), and David Dietz (Brandywine Brewing) get the acknowledgement that they so rightfully deserve.

Local readers will also enjoy revisiting old haunts such as The John Harvard location, Downtown Brewing and Rockford Brewing; as well new additions Mispillion River Brewing and Blue Earl Brewing, plus others.

But what if you’re not into all this…brewing? No problem. The book touches enough on topics like the original settlers and prohibition (a section that I found quite interesting) to satisfy those interested in general Delaware history as well as simply affording the reader a glimpse into Wilmington’s past.

Longtime residents will surely recognize some of the structures and cross streets mentioned, even though they’ve taken on a much different appearance today, as well as recognize names plucked directly from the history of Delaware. And indeed that’s part of the appeal of this book, the fact that even though it mostly centers on an industry that flourished over a hundred years ago, the people and places are still very much woven into the fabric of the surrounding area.

Think you’ve never eaten lunch or enjoyed happy hour in a building that once housed the hotel and saloon owned by one of the men behind the Hartmann & Fehrenbach Brewery? Check out pages 25 and 77. Have you walked through the gardens established by a man who lead The National Association Against Prohibition? Read page 79. Think you’ve never driven your car over the very lot that was once home to Diamond State Brewery? Page 99 may surprise you.

Brewing in Delaware is an amazing collection of photos and documents showing the historical linage of brewing in the State of Delaware, and Mr Medkeff has done an admiral job adding context and substance to those photos. Its visual format and easy reading (It’s about a three/four beer book) makes it approachable for anyone who wants to know more about the breweries and brewers of the nation’s First State, whether you’re familiar with Delaware or you’re not.

SUGGESTED READING: Anyone who is interested in the history of brewing in the pre-prohibition era.

MUST READ: Anyone interested in the history of Delaware and/or the history of brewing within the state of Delaware.

SUGGESTIONS: A great gift or stocking stuffer for that beer lover in your life. Or just buy it for yourself.

………………………………………………………………………………….

Brewing in Delaware, $21.99, Arcadia Publishing. Available at local retailers, online bookstores, or through Arcadia Publishing and The History Press at www.arcadiapublishing.com or (888) 313-2665, starting August 10th, 2015.

All proceeds from the book are being donated to the Delaware Historical Society and Friends of Historic Riverview Cemetery.

If you’d like to learn more about the history of brewing in Delaware you can follow John’s Facebook page Delaware Beer History, his website, or attend his up coming lecture at the Blue Ball Barn at Alapocas Run State Park on September 5th, 2015 (Tickets Required).

I’d like to thank Emily Hommel and Katie Parry of Arcadia Publishing for sending me an advanced copy of Brewing in Delaware.

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THE FINAL SIP: John Medkeff Jr (R), along with Dogfish Head owner Sam Calagione pose with the head of the 11-foot Gambrinus statue that for years adorned what would later become The Diamond State Brewery. The statue was inadvertently broken while in storage in 1978 and currently resides in possession of Mr Medkeff who hopes to restore it. (PHOTO CREDIT: Delaware Beer History Facebook page)

 

Tasters – And The Dogs of Beer Turns Four

I’m FOUR! That’s right, this blog is slowly catching up to the age I act. Scary.

I’m not going to do a big anniversary post this year, I’ll save all the glitz and glamour for my year end post. Plus for some unfathomable reason, when WordPress.com updated its Stats Page it dropped “All Time” stats as an option. Thanks. So much for that awesome map of the US that I enjoyed posting every year to show all the great countries (some of them I didn’t even know existed) that visited. For the record I clicked “yes I love the old version of the stats page better” every time it asked me, but I guess I lost. The new page isn’t that bad, but the exclusion of the “ALL TIME” option does limit its usefulness.

But instead I want to take a few minutes to thank some folks who make this blog what it is (yeah, that’s right! It’s YOUR fault too, I’m taking you all down with me!).

I want to thank everyone who has stopped by to read anything I wrote, especially those who have made my posts on The Shawshank Redemption and Twin Lakes so satisfying to have written.

I want to thank all the other bloggers (AKA The Usual Suspects) who follow me (and that I follow) who have been a source of support and inspiration, whether it be a kind word or a great post idea which I’ve “borrowed”.

I want to thank all the Delaware/local brewers, bar owners, and representatives whose great beers and willingness to take the time to talk to me have made this fun and very informative over the years. I want to thank my fellow admins Patrick Huff and Dana Dillon of the Delaware Craft Beer and Wine Lovers, and all of its members for the kick ass beer events, looking forward to the ones we have coming up.

I want to thank Cindy Small of the Delaware Wine and Beer Festival as she’s always been so gracious to this blog. I greatly appreciate it.

And of course I want to thank Tracey who makes all the trips and events amazingly fun. And, reluctantly I suppose, a joy killing, non-team player who thinks he’s too cool to have a little fun for the benefit of helping this blog celebrate a significant milestone.

Buddy Avatar 50Hey, I said no hat this year!

 

Awww, but you looked so cute in it last year.

Buddy Avatar 50Yeah, well the rubber strap pulled my fur.

 

Poor kitty…..

Buddy Avatar 50Go chase a squirrel, biped!

 

Anyway, since someone thinks he’s above playing along this year, I guess I will just share some “four” related beertography. Thanks again to everyone, and let’s continue the fun in year 5!!

Exit-4-RS
Whenever someone says they live in NJ, the correct followup question isn’t, “Where?”, it’s “What exit?” I grew up at Exit 1.
Allagash-Four-RS
There’s always time for some Allagash in your day.
IV-Board
Of course, I picked up this Brasserie de Jandrain-Jandrenouille Saison because of the big IV on the label but it ended up being a very good farmhouse style ale.
FQM 1 RS
Any great celebration should have multiple drink options, so I pulled out some mead/cider in the form of Four Quarters Meadery’s Harvest Fruit Cyser.

Time to start working on year 5….

Class in a Glass – 16 Mile’s Seed-Free and Joy Watermelon Ale

OK, if I tell you this is the second flavored beer in a row that I’ve reviewed and the last review I posted was Stewart’s Stumbling Monk – don’t panic. Beer reviews are like a TV series here at tDoB, the order I shoot (write) them in might not necessarily be the order I broadcast (post) them. I just finished writing the guts of Mispillion River’s Cupacabra! the other day and that review is now in (what we like to call in the biz) post production. When either that one or this one will see the light of day remains to be seen.

Anyway, the flavored beer I’d like to focus on this time is Seed-Free and Joy, a Summer-time offering from the 16 Mile Brewery. The name is a play on Siegfried & Roy, the highly successful duo of Las Vegas magicians who were known for their use of lions and tigers in their act. Unfortunately an incident on stage in October of 2003 involving a 7-year old white tiger left Roy Horn severely injured and forced the Mirage Hotel and Casino to indefinitely cancel the show. The duo ended up retiring from show business in 2010 having made only one more stage appearance since Roy’s injuries.

In fact, the beer makes reference to Roy’s attack on the label with the artwork of a tiger eating a watermelon. While I have to admit appreciating the cleverness involved I found the humor a little on the dark side.

Buddy Avatar 50Dude, you dressed up as Roy Horn for one of your Halloween parties!

 

No I didn’t.

Buddy Avatar 50Yes you did! That’s where the white tiger that’s your truck’s security system came from!

 

Ahhhh no, pretty sure I’d remember that. Now as I was….

Buddy Avatar 50Blood and all! I’ve see the picture around here somewhere.

 

Hahahaa noooo, no you haven’t. Besides there’s not time for that now….because I gotta….I gotta…..review this beer! Yeah! Let’s taste!

THEM: Seed-Free and Joy started as beer #5 in 16 Mile’s Off The Grid series in May of 2014. The beer was described by the brewer as a “classic American session ale, also known as a blonde”, brewed with watermelon and cucumbers, and initially clocking in at around 4.5%ABV (the bottle version is a tad higher at 4.9%).

ME: Pretty beer, a touch above golden to a light copper in my glass from bottom to top with a nice vortex of carbonation rising to support a nice ring and island of foam on top of the beer. My fridge may have over chilled this beer as does happen sometimes because I’m getting very little in the way of the watermelon, but what I am getting is a delightful cracker/bread crust/freshly cracked grain aroma that I’m finding really enjoyable. That cracked grain description hit me at the end, and now that it’s in my mind the aroma reminds me of how my barroom would smell when we’d hold grain grinding parties when I homebrewed. So nice.

Buddy Avatar 50Don’t go anywhere! I think it’s in this drawer somewhere!

 

That’s OK! No need to bother yourself! I take my first sip and all that aroma is definitely in the taste as well as a flash of melon and the sensation of freshly cut cucumber in the middle. I’ll admit, I probably wouldn’t have caught the cucumber if I hadn’t known it was there, but it is definitely in the mix. SFaJ finishes clean, almost to be empty on the back (as I find a lot of 16 Mile beers are) with just a hint of lingering cracked grain and hoppy spiciness; along with a slight anticipation for the next sip. The 4.9%ABV is right where it should be and as always I’ll leave it to the session police to squabble over the numbers.

If I had to chose between Chupacabra! and Seed-Free as my Summer thirst quencher – I’m going to have to go with Seed-Free as I just loved the cracker/grainy base of the beer. The watermelon is there, but it’s not at a level to be either bubble-gummy or gimmicky.

Buddy Avatar 50FOUND IT!

 

me-at-halloween

You’re an ass.

Buddy Avatar 50Admit it, you love dark humor.

 

Yeah, sigh…..I do.

Time for another beer.

Seed-Free
THE FINAL SIP: Roy Horn insisted after the incident that no harm come to the tiger that injured him. The tiger passed away in 2014 at the age of 17. (PHOTO CREDIT: The Dogs of Beer)

In Which I Express My Sadness Over the Fallout at Twin Lakes Brewing

Over the years I’ve been unapologetic concerning my fondness for Twin Lakes Brewing’s Greenville Pale Ale. Not only is the cascade laden ale so fiercely drinkable that I included in my post for The Six Pack Project, but I also tell people that it’s my go to BBQ/Grilling beer. Sometimes I think they believe I’m over stating this, but all you have to do is scroll down this blog’s Facebook page and you’ll see that unmistakable, green can in a lot of photos sitting next to grills and grilled meat.

So when I caught wind last week that the brewery was closing down to move to a new location I was obviously curious and quite surprised, as I know the location has been a source of pride for co-owner Sam Hobbs since the brewery opened in the spring of 2006.

The Twin Lakes brewery currently resides on a piece of land that has been owned by the Hobbs family for seven generations, and the brew house itself was set up in a barn that dates back to the 1820s. The name refers to two ponds, or “lakes”, that sat on the property on which the Hobbs family allowed locals to skate since the early 1900s. And while the property, with its single vehicle driveway, small tasting room and not-so spacious brew house might not have been the most convenient for a working brewery, it was the most scenic and beautiful brewery in Delaware. After all, what other brewery can you take a few minutes after picking up a growler to pet a horse.

But before I get too deeply into this post, let me be up front and say that this is not a “news article”. I don’t have any knowledge or information on the situation at the Twin Lakes Brewery that hasn’t already been printed or that can be gleaned easily from social media.

The purpose of this post is to allow me to express some of the sadness I feel when the business end of the beer world interfers and/or disrupts an otherwise fine producer of great beer. Why do I say that? Because quite rapidly the story changed into more than just the brewery changing locations.

For the benefit of my readers who are outside the Delaware area, I’ll sum up the situation to the best of my ability.

Back on June 17th the brewery posted on its Facebook page that the tasting room was closed until further notice. The post gave no explanation, and advised the page’s followers to await information on when the tasting room would reopen.

On July 6th, Jack Curtin posted on his Liquid Diet Blog that according to his sources there had been a “crisis at” the brewery wherein investors were trying to force Hobbs out of the business.

My initial thought was that this was ridiculous but on July 7th, Delaware Online posted this article that stated the brewery was moving to a new location because its lease had expired back in 2013, while the brewery’s Webpage listed growth as a reason for the move. The article wouldn’t have struck me funny if not for Curtin’s post from the previous day and the fact that it contained quotes from brewery CEO Adam Doherty and brewery co-founder Jack Wick and nothing from Sam Hobbs who had been (it seemed to me anyway) the face of the brewery. But maybe I’m reading too much into that. For those of you who go on to read the article please note that on its initial posting it made no mention of Rob Pheiffer or the “other brewer”. This portion was edited in later.

That night I was clicking around some beer related social media and came across several posts which really throw me for a loop – long time head brewer Rob Pheiffer apparently would not be following the brewery to its new location as he had apparently parted ways with the company several weeks earlier along with assistant brewer Julia Christie-Robin whose social media now lists her as a brewer at Forgotten Boardwalk in Cherry Hill.

When I pull all the above together, I’m forced to conclude that there has indeed been some kind of shake up at Twin Lakes and the explanation that this is simply a move revolving around “growth” reeks of not being the full story as I don’t know of too many brewers that would walk away from their jobs just because the brewery wanted to move and expand. But having said that, these facts coupled with a few other pieces of information, I could probably paint a couple of scenarios where expansion may have been the catalyst for all the fallout at Twin Lakes. But since I either don’t have, or am not 100% sure on those other pieces of information I’ll refrain from laying out what I believe happened because as I said initially, that’s not the purpose of this post.

No the purpose of post is to give me a forum to convey my disappointment that it appears that this fine brewery has been ripped apart by business disagreements and infighting. Oh sure, the voices who now seem to be calling the shots assure us that the brewery will reopen once a new location is secured, but will it truly be “Twin Lakes” outside of the property that gave the brewery its name (not to mention its water) and without some of the people who gave the place its personality (when the Delaware Online article was updated it included a quote from Wick that Sam Hobbs was still an owner of the brewery).

Rob Pheiffer, besides being an awesome brewer, was very active in the Delaware brewing community. His enthusiasm and sly grin lead me to start referring to him as “the happiest man in the business” and while I have no doubt that I’ll still bump into him a events from time-to-time, to walk up to a Twin Lakes tent at a festival and not see him smiling behind that large wooden tap pedestal just isn’t going to feel right.

The property itself will be missed amongst the community as it was the location of such awesome events such as the Wilmington Burger Battle (which has found new digs for its upcoming August 29th event) and The “Red Shoe and Brew” which benefited The Ronald McDonald House of Delaware.

As for the new location, I’m sure the now powers-that-be will be looking for a place that will allow them to increase capacity as well as placing the brewery more in line with the current small brewery model that is currently popping up in Delaware. And I’m sure the new brewer, whoever he or she may be, will work hard to continue to produce the recipes that Rob worked so hard to develop. But to me, the place will never have the soul of the old Twin Lakes. It’s impossible.

If they took your favorite bar, tore it down, rebuilt it in another location, changed the decor and got rid of your favorite bartenders, you probably could still enjoy the beer and the food, but would it still be your favorite bar? I guess that’s what we’ll see in the future.

The beer? I guess we’ll have to see about that as well. But you can bet that I’ll be very keen to taste the initial batches of Greenville Pale Ale that come from the new location.

I’d like to wish Rob and Julia good luck in their future endeavors and as well as those at the brewery with their move going forward. While at the end of the day I can rationalize that its just an unfortunate repercussion of the nature of the business it doesn’t change my overall reaction to the situation. It’s sad.

TL-Collage-2

Class In a Glass – Mispillion River’s Chupacabra!

Today I’m substituting for renowned TV host, explorer and well know cryptozoologist Josh Gates. Gates has made a living out of hosting such shows as SYFY’s Destination Truth and Travel Channel’s Expedition Unknown, the gist of which are that he goes to a location that has reports of some strange creature in an attempt to either prove or disprove these claims. He’s traveled all over the world in search of animals that people have claimed they’ve seen or have been attacked by, although there is no scientific evidence of these creature’s existence. For the most part, it looks like fun.

Unfortunately, I don’t have the adventurous nature that Mister Gates does. Well, that’s not true. I would love to travel the world searching for things that may or may not be real (like…say…hipsters! I mean, we’ve all seen the pictures, but do they TRULY exist…hmmm?), but my reality is that I have responsibilities, lack of funds, and no TV deal.

But I didn’t let that deter me the other day when armed with only my resolve and $10, I fearlessly trekked through the densely laden aisle of my nearby liquor store in search of a creature that Josh himself has investigated on several occasions, the fabled goat sucking (Fun trivia fact, that last word is the only word in my four year career of blogging that I made sure I spelled correctly on ten separate occasions before publishing or this could have gone south very quickly) Chupacabra! In my case however, in the form of a mojito inspired ale brewed by Mispillion River.

The expedition was arduous as I circumnavigated past the rum and vodka. When I had reached the Australian wines, I almost lost a member of the team, but I was able to pull him to safety from the end-cap of Yellow Tail he had fallen over.

Soon I was at my destination and not long after setting up base camp I began seeing signs of activity. I ventured out into the beer section, quietly scanning my surroundings for any sign of this illusive creature when suddenly I caught a glimpse of something hidden in the shelving. There! There it was! The fabled Chupacabra! Six of them! In there own natural habitat!

Well damn. That actually wasn’t all that hard. Let’s taste.

THEM: Chupacabra! started as a small batch beer that was tapped at the brewery in March of 2015. The beer at that time was built on a grain bill of 2-row and honey malt, and brewed with lime zest, fresh mint, and wild flower honey. The beer is balanced out with 20IBUs and brings 5.0%ABV to the search.

ME: Not a bad beer on the pour. Not overly carbonated, tiptoes into the amber shade a bit at the top of the glass I’m drinking from. The head recedes quickly to just a ring around the inside of the glass. The nose gives an unmistakeable hint of mint with an under current of lime and other citrus which carries over into the flavor (although I find the mint and the lime more prominent in the nose) where they mix together with a nice touch of honey. The body is light, and the finish is clean.

I wish there was more to say about this beer but there’s really not, which is fine because I believe this is a case where less is definitely more. Chupacabra! is light and approachable, hitting all of the brewery’s descriptive marks while delivering a very drinkable, Summertime beer. Mint isn’t my favorite flavor in the world, so Chupacabra! isn’t something I would normally gravitate towards but I could definitely drink a couple of these and I’m sure that once Tracey gets a taste of it the rest of the six pack won’t be hanging around the fridge for very long.

So if you like mint (or even if you’re not its biggest fan) and you’re looking for a beer built for Summertime drinking, check out Chupacabra! Just make sure you take a picture of it, or your friends just might not believe you.

Time for another beer.

THE FINAL SIP: Josh was so excited to finally catch a Chupacabra. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that they can be easily found at any liquor store in Delaware that sells great beers. (Credits: Josh Gates (The SYFY Channel), Label Art (Mispillion River), Can Photo and Photoshop (The Dogs of Beer))
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