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.

 

 

 

Class in a Glass : Mispillion River’s Holy Crap! Imperial Red Ale

Mispillion River opened in 2013 after Eric Williams declared to his wife Megan that he was going to open a craft brewery in Milford, Delaware. Alright, so he actually made that declaration two years earlier, and then spent the time leading up to Mispillion River’s opening doing everything he could to open a brewery that as their mission statement reads was, “recognized by its customers and the brewing industry for producing the highest quality craft beer.

Teaming up with Don and Marti Brooks, and Scott and Tammy Perlot, the Williamses brought in Jared Barnes to brew the initial batches with assistant Ryan Maloney who took over as head brewer about a year after opening.

Sadly, Tracey and I have yet to make it down to the brewery, but we’ve enjoyed their beers on several occasions at festivals and bars, continually finding these guys to be top notch. So the other day when I saw that one of my new favorite liquor stores (The Newark Bottle Shop) was carrying Mispillion’s Holy Crap! Imperial Red I figured this was a good a chance to finally review one of their beers.

Now I try not to go into any review with any bias (especially negative) but I have to admit that this beer and I got off on a wrong foot when I reached into the cooler and only pulled out four beers. That’s right, Holy Crap! comes in four packs, and you know to us, that’s just…..well you know…*

Let’s taste.

THEM: Holy Crap! is built off of a grain bill of 2-Row, caramel, biscuit and Munich malts while Amarillo hops do all the heavy lifting in the beer to the tune of 50IBUs. The kick tops off at 9.0ABV and according to the brewery it pairs well with spiced Brontosaurus. Fred Flintstone approved I’m sure.

Flintstone
Well…I guess so…(Copyrights: Hanna Barbara/Mispillion River, Photoshop: The Dogs of Beer)

ME: Holy Crap pours a deep mahogany with a nice white head. The nose has gobs of specialty grain and bready malts with a nice balance of citrus and spice you’d expect from Amarillo. Balance is the word that carries over into the taste, moving from sweet malts with a rewarding kick of citrus (I’m getting a little grapefruit or lemon rind) in the front to a touch of lingering hops in the back. The brewery states this finishes with a dry bitterness and yes, those 50 IBUs are not lie, but this beer didn’t seem to be leaving my mouth dry like the Jurassic Age. No, it seemed to have plenty of mouth coating sweetness on the back end that left all those citrus tastes bouncing around on my tongue. It’s a beer that stayed with me for quite a bit after each sip with its mix of sweet malty goodness (Malty goodness – you know I like that) and residual hops especially as I got towards the bottom of the glass. And all that body worked well to efficiently hide that 9% ABV. In fact, if Holy Crap! refers to anything, that is a good thing for it to refer to, its alcohol’s ability to hide like a pack Velociraptors in a jungle.

I’m going to admit, I was initially not a fan of the “putting Imperial in front of a beer style” trend. Things like Imperial Pilsner usually made me shake my head because on the surface it just seemed like an excuse for breweries to hump more alcohol and hops into styles (as in this case amber/red) that normally don’t call for it. But that seems to be what the craft beer drinking crowd wants, so who am I to chide the breweries for delivering. If anything else, Holy Crap! showed me that even in styles I might otherwise raise an eyebrow at, I can find good beer. Although Reach Around is still my favorite.

Time for another beer…

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THE FINAL SIP: Mispillion has just released its Mojito inspired Chupacabra with lime and mint leaves. For the record Chupacabras are easier to deal with than T-Rexes and less likely to spill  your beer. (Copyrights: Universal Studios/Mispillion River, Photoshop: The Dogs of Beer)

*It’s Devil-Witchery. That’s what a 4-pack is…….Pure…………..Devil…………..Witchery.

What’s up around Delaware for American Craft Beer Week (May 13-19)

ACBW

[Note: This post will be updated as more events become posted.  Check in for updates!]

Monday, May 13th begins American Craft Beer Week.  Known as The Mother of All Beer Weeks, it’s the brain child of  The Brewer’s Association, the national non-profit association on behalf of the majority of today’s U.S. breweries, and publishers of CraftBeer.com.  The focus of the week “is to encourage beer lovers everywhere to celebrate the accomplishments of America’s small and independent craft brewers.”

Below is a day by day guide of events you can find in the state of Delaware, some in conjunction with ACBW, and some which just happily coincide with the week.  Hopefully the most interesting event that will happen this week will be Governor Markell signing the growler sales bill into law (UPDATE: Debra Heffeman reports that Markell will sign the beer into law on May 16th).

You can follow American Craft Beer Week on Twitter @BeerWeek1, hashtag #ACBW

ALL WEEK LONG:

Both Chelsea Tavern and Ernest & Scott will be running the following special all week long:  $1 Tastes (6 ounce pours) of ALL < 8% abv drafts and $2 Tastes (6 ounce pours) of ALL > 8% abv drafts!  You can check out what’s on tap any time at the links below:

http://www.beermenus.com/places/5089-chelsea-tavern

http://www.beermenus.com/places/5252-ernest-and-scott-taproom

Not in Delaware, but still a local liquor store to some of us, State Line Liquors will be having their huge craft beer sale next week.  With 20% of single bottles an 10% off packs.

16 Mile Brewery – Will be running beer specials Monday thru Friday. We will be doing Post Apocalyptic Porter everyday for $4 drafts and core beer growler price ($15 new $9 refill). And every day we will do one of our core beers for only $3 drafts. Here’s a quick run down of their specials during the week:  Mon $3 Amber Sun drafts, Wed $3 Inlet IPA drafts, Thurs $3 Harvest drafts, Fri $3 Blues Golden drafts, Sat $3 Old Court drafts and Sun $3 Responders drafts.  Also six packs for each of those beers will be $7 on that coordinating day.

FRIDAY THE 17th:

The Pickled Pig Pub – Specials with Pairings… add a 4oz. sample of the suggested paired beer to any of our awesome Dinner Specials for only $1!

Two Stones Pub – They’re featuring some of the best beers brewed in New York. That’s right…plenty of Brooklyn, Sixpoint, Ommegang, Blue Point & Southern Tier.

Dogfish Head, Milton – Small Batch Brewing Day, just what it says and YOU can get in on the act!

Fordham/Dominion – Band Night at the Brewery. 7-8:30pm. Cost: $5 for five beer samples

Kelly’s Logan House – 21st Amendment, Hell or High Watermelon party including specials on all 21st Amendment beers. 6-close.

SATURDAY THE 18th:

The Pickled Pig Pub – Specials with Pairings… add a 4oz. sample of the suggested paired beer to any of our awesome Dinner Specials for only $1

Dogfish Head, Milton – One Epic Craft Beer Celebration, you know these guys aren’t just kidding.  Should be off the charts.

Fordham/Dominion – German Roots of American Craft Beer Class at the Brewery. 4-5pm. Cost: $10 for class and Pilsner glass. Attendance limited to 20. Email LBigelow@CoastalBrewingCompany.com to register

3rd Wave Brewing – Will be tapping two new beers today!

Kelly’s Logan House – $4 Draft and Bottles on all Dogfish Head, plus Love Seed Momma Jump.

Old Library Museum, New Castle – A new exhibit at the Old Library Museum explores the history of drinking establishments – both legal and illegal – in Old New Castle since the 17th century. May 18 – December 29, 2013, weekends, 1-4pm, free.

SUNDAY THE 19th:

The Pickled Pig Pub – Kick the Keg & Steakhouse… so, kick the bottle special? Look out for a list of select bottles & cans with deep discounts to help them make room for some new additions!

Argilla Brewing – BBQ Beer dinner featuring all things smoked, either food or beers!  Guest host Rob Pfieffer, head brewer,  Twin Lakes Brewing, who will be bringing some of his own beers as well. 6pm.  $60 Call for reservations.

PAST EVENTS:

MONDAY THE 13th:

The Pickled Pig Pub – Monday is Burger Night… so, how about $3 Craft Cans!  And considering they just won 1st place for “anything goes” & 3rd for “all beef” at the 16 Miles Burger contest… if you haven’t experienced Burger Madness Mondays you need to!

Two Stones Pub – Locals Only Draft Night – 24 drafts brewed within 100 miles of 2SP!   Come out & celebrate with Dogfish Head, Twin Lakes, 16 Mile, Fordham, Evolution, Lancaster, Yards, Victory, Troegs, Sly Fox, Weyerbacher, Heavy Seas, Flying Fish & 3rd Wave.

Fordham/Dominion – Win a Day Rubber Booting with the Brewers

3rd Wave Brewing – Will be tapping two new beers, Coastline Cream Ale and the first in their Paddle Out Series (small trial batches) an IPA.

TUESDAY THE 14th:

The Pickled Pig Pub – Pizza & Pints & $1 off Drafts. Why don’t you go ahead & keep the glass… they’ll have a limited number of Dogfish Head Pint glasses that you can keep when you order a pizza with a Dogfish Head 60 minute.

Two Stones Pub – Tuesday Taco Madness: American Craft Beer Week Edition!  Chef Blair & The Gang are whipping up some awesome Chicago-inspired tacos to pair with some excellent brews from Goose Island including Sofie, Matilda, Pepe Nero, 25th Anniversary, Pere Jacques and Bourbon County!

Dogfish Head, Milton – Ancient Ales! It’s an American Invasion of the World!

Fordham/Dominion – Win a Day Rubber Booting with the Brewers

WEDNESDAY THE 15th:

The Pickled Pig Pub – Last Beer Dinner of the Season; the Feast of the Beasts… limited reservations available.

Two Stones Pub – Some of their friends out West sent them some one-offs & brewpub exclusives.  Be sure to stop in for a rare chance to try some epic beers from 21st Amendment, Elysian, No-Li & Green Flash.

Dogfish Head, Milton – Beer vs. Wine… who says you have to choose?   A day of beer/wine hybrids

Fordham/Dominion – Bier Dawg BBQ at the Brewery. 5-7pm Cost: $5 for five beer samples and Bier Dawg.

Tyler Fitzgerald’s – Their first Sam Adams Tap Tap Takeover! Featured drafts include: Blueberry Lager, Double Agent IPL, Porch Rocker Pale Ale, Little White Rye and Belgian Session Pale Ale.

Kelly’s Logan House – Six Point tasting party at the Tiki Bar, 6-10pm

TODAY, THURSDAY THE 16th:

Governor Markell signs Delaware growler sales bill into law.

The Pickled Pig Pub – Randall & 10% off food for Pub Club Members! so, how about select $3 Pub Club Mugs from 5-close! If you are not a member it’s a good night to do it!

Two Stones Pub – They’re teaming up with Dogfish Head to help out with the American Craft Beer Week Coast-to-Coast Toast (see below).  They’ll be pouring Palo Santo, Namaste, Aprihop, Sah’Tea, Positive Contact, My Antonia, Midas Touch, Chicory, Birra Etrusca and vintage 120 Minute & World Wide.

Dogfish Head, Milton – Innovating the IPA (east coast vs. west coast styles) a look at some of the hoppier ales of DFH

PLUS ! As if hops aren’t enough of a celebration, they’re hosting a special evening tour.  Why?  So we can participate in the coast to coast toast*, of course!  In the spirit of community and camaraderie, all craft brewers, drinkers, friends, and fans are raising their pints for a nationwide, “CHEERS!”  It’s going down at 8pm—don’t miss it!–

Fordham/Dominion – Win a Day Rubber Booting with the Brewers, plus Pinup Party at Cowboy Up Saloon. Beer specials, pinup contest, raffles, free pinup posters (limited amount).

State Line Liquors Tasting: The Great Beers of the USA Thursday 5.16 7-9pm

Kelly’s Logan House – Troeg’s Nugget Nectar party, 6-10pm

Premier Wine and Spirits – Beer Club with Harpoon Brewery!  6-7pm.  Sample beers from Harpoon Brewery and meet the brewer!

Delaware Beer News: Building a Case for Growler Sales in the State of Delaware

Growlers
Growlers from Peco’s Liquors ready to be filled with tasty Delaware Beer (Peco’s Facebook Page).

Many of you have no doubt found yourself in a situation where you need to get a home project done.  Maybe you want to add a deck to the back of your house.  Maybe you want to add an addition or fix the roof.  Or maybe you just want to do a little renovation.  So like any home owner you scope out the project, decide what work needs to be done, figure out how you’re going to pay for it, and then take care of the first thing you need to do before you start any fix-it-up project – get a State law passed.

Ok, that probably doesn’t happen to us everyday Joe’s very often but that’s pretty much where Ed Mulvihill  found himself when he wanted to make renovations to his family liquor store, Peco’s Liquors.  Faced with the challenge of increasing revenue by more than just increasing floor space, Ed came up with what he thought would be a simple solution.  Part of the renovation would include a growler filling station.

Inspired by the obvious success of growler sales in both PA and NJ, Ed thought the idea made sense.  “I can drive 15 minutes into PA and get growler of 60 minute IPA, but if I want to do that in Delaware I need to go all the way to Milton or Rehoboth Beach, ” he said to me in a recent telephone conversation.

But what he thought was a simple solution turned out not to be.  Although initially encouraged that the Beverage Commission’s book said nothing about the illegality of selling growlers, a conversation with the Commission itself proved that just because the book didn’t said, ‘thou shalt not’, didn’t mean ‘thou can’.  The Commission’s recommendation to Ed when he asked how he should proceed?.  “Get a State law passed.”

“I didn’t know anything about getting a State law passed,” Ed confessed.  “I mean, I’d seen School House Rock.”

So Ed reached out to Eight District State Representative Debra Heffernan (D) and along with help and support from Mike Whitwell of Premier Wine and Spirits, Bob & Jeff Kreston of Kreston Wine and Spirits, and Bill Lower of Harvey Hanna and Associates, started to go through the necessary steps of making growler sales legal in the state of Delaware.  “We didn’t want this to be a thing for just Peco’s, we wanted it to be something for everyone.”

And time passed.  The bill stalled at one point when Debra wasn’t sure she had enough votes and because, as Ed was quick to point out, the state government had a lot more important things to discuss than growler sales.

But finally a couple of months ago, she and Ed touched base again, and Debra indicated that she felt it was time to move forward.  And move forward it did.  Peco’s held a press conference on March 7th where; along with industry support from the likes of Sam Hobbes from Twin Lakes, Chadd Campell and Claus Hagelman from 16 Mile, and a Mike Contreras from Dogfish Head, Debra introduced House Bill 31 echoing Ed’s words that Delaware craft beer lovers should not have to drive over state lines to purchase the beer they enjoy.

It then made its way to the House or Representatives by way of the Economic Development/Banking/Insurance/Commerce Committee on March 13th where is passed unanimously, 37 to 0.  Then after an almost 2 week stay in the Small Business Committed it was passed on to the Senate where it passed 21-0.  Ed credits Debra for all her effort, “She took it to everyone she thought would have an issue with it and and asked, “what do you think?””  If all goes to plan, Governor Jack Markell will sign the bill into law sometime during the week of May 13th-19th, in conjunction with American Craft Beer Week.

And local liquor stores are getting ready.  When I talked to Jeff Kreston about the up coming chance to sell growlers at his two stores, he was very enthusiastic.  “We are definitely going to take advantage of the new growler law in both our Wilmington and Middletown locations,” he relayed to me in an email conversation. “Growlers are a new step to get our craft beer customer more beers and allow customers to buy beer that might only be made in kegs.”

Which is a valid point.  While it’s true that the breweries of Delaware make great shelf product, many of the best beers (IMHO) some of these breweries make are available in kegs only.  A point that Mike Whitwell of Premier Wine and Spirits also eluded to when I asked him about the upcoming law, “Most of the beer from Twin Lakes is only available in kegs.”

So is Premier ready?  “We are investing thousands in state of the art Growler filling equipment and staff training to be a true destination for the BEER GEEKS OF DELAWARE!!!,” he stated in an email conversation.  How soon after the law is passed will Premier be filling growlers for all of us beer geeks?  “Our intention is to be up and selling within 48 hours of when the commissioner gives the green light!”

What can we expect as far as beers?  Ed, Jeff and Mike have all indicated a strong pull toward local beers.  “We will definitely be doing local since we are surrounded in DE with so many great breweries. Fordham, Dominion, Dogfish, 16 mile, Twin Lakes, etc,” Jeff said.  “Last October we purchased a barrel of Knob Creek single barrel. The bourbon was bottled to sell in our stores and we took the barrel to our good friends at Fordham & Dominion Brewing Co. in Dover, DE and filled it with the amazing Double D double ipa. It has been aging and soon will be put in 1/6 kegs ready for our growlers!!!”

As for the rest?  Well Jeff rounded it out, “We will defiantly do rare. We have some great connections with breweries already and plan to take advantage of it. We will offer beer that is not available in a can/bottle for most of our growlers.”

“Yes, Local will definitely be a key focus,” Mike wrote, indicating that “several beers from Twin Lakes, at least 1-2 of the current seasonal beers, and something from DogFish and Fordham” will be among the first beers to flow out of Premier’s system.

And Ed believes that when Peco’s entire system is up and running, about half of the taps available would be local beers, while the other half would be dedicated to beers from other areas.

So just how many taps are we talking about?  Well, while the vision of a small kegerator sitting in the back of your local  store with a couple of taps could  be the case in some smaller liquor stores,  these major players in the local beer market are jumping in with both feet as Jeff pointed out, “We are still considering all our options but we think we will have 8-12 taps to start our growler sales in both stores.”

Mike offered, “We are going to start with 4-6 taps. We’ll see but our goal is to have 8+ taps.”

Ed also indicated that his family’s store was fully committed to this endeavor,  “We currently have two Micro Matic 8 tap systems sitting in Philly.”  According to Ed, Peco’s will start with 8 taps not long after the bill is signed into law and hope to have the second 8 (Ed is still considering the possibility of going as high as 24 taps) up and running full time by labor day, “We have to wait for the renovations to be fully done.”

Fair enough.  After all, all this was just so Ed could get that renovation done.  Remember?

[The author would like to kindly thank Mike Whitwell, Jeff Kreston and Ed Mulvihill, for giving me some of their valuable time to allow me to write this post. ]

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