Things I Heard at Downtown Brewfest and Delaware: A Brew Story

– or those that I remember.

So, what we call “festival season” has started with a bang. August, September, October usually see a lot of activity as annual festivals grab their spot on the calendar and new festivals try to find a nice place to fit into the already crowded weekends.

Such as this year’s first annual Downtown Brewfest. The event was held right on Market Street in Wilmington (the 800 block to be exact) and attracted a nice crowd to the Saturday afternoon event.

I thought the event hit a lot of the marks you’d want from a beerfest, and I hope it becomes a permanent addition to our calendar.

Several weeks later it was time for one of our favorite annual events, Delaware: A Brew Story. Every year this event draws almost everyone who is anyone in the Delaware beer scene (including some who have not opened their doors yet) and this year was no exception.

Some pretty nice beers were available, and as always local historian John Medkeff Jr gave a fine talk on Delaware beer history. This year’s theme was the “Roaring Twenties” and so in fitting fashion, John gave a fine talk on the history (and impact) of prohibition on the breweries of Delaware.

Sadly, both events came up light from a picture standpoint, as I only took a few at Downtown, and expecting to have to deal with some rain at Brew Story, opted to take the night off and just enjoy the event.

So with no real pictures, and  you all knowing what a beer festival looks like by now, I thought I’d take this time to toss out some “news” tidbits that I picked up as I made the rounds at both events. Sadly because Downtown was over a month ago, some of the things that I was told at the event have already been posted by the breweries, but I’ll include them along with a link where you can find more information.

So here we go:

Stitch House is full of shiny tanks, and looks to be moving right along towards their much anticipated opening.

Craig Wensell said he’s been trying to incorporate some fun names into his beers but has run into a little resistance from the rest of the team. I mean, who wouldn’t want to order a “Get bent, Dover!”?

Steve from Argilla confirmed that the brewery is moving away from its spring and fall festivals due the supply demands they put on the brewery. Instead, they’ll be focusing on their brewer’s pizza night, which they just posted that the next one will be on October 21st. (Click on the banner below to learn more)

Pizza NightFile this under SEVERE rumor, but I was told by someone not connected to the brewery that Mispillion is going through some repackaging for their beers. I have no idea why, I think their packaging rocks.

Twin Lakes is continuing towards their goal of getting the brewery up to where they’d like it to be. Five beers will be making their way into cans, one of which was their previous offering, Greenville Pale Ale (a BBQ favorite of mine). Joining it will be –  Blue Water Pilsner, Tweed Tavern Stout, Caesar Rodney Golden Ale and Chesapeake Wheat. And, they just posted that the tasting room will opening today! Stop by.

TL tasting OpenA well known face in the biz who just finished opening a new brewery will be leaving that brewery to open his own concern. Keep an eye out for Wilmington Beer Works….or it might have been Wilmington Brew Works, but it’s coming. I could name him but thought I would let the parties concerned make the announcement when they’re ready.

Midnight Oil is chugging right along with their brewery and hope to be opening in the not to distant future. In the meantime, the brewery had some awesome shirts made for the Brew Story event. Proceeds help John’s Restore the King efforts. If you’d like to support the cause, some shirts are still available. Click here to find out more.

The Liquid Alchemy team is very excited for this weekend’s 3 day, first anniversary event which will feature a Franken-Cyser, special anniversary glasses while supplies last, and plus a hand-crafted anniversary chocolate bar from the fine people at Double Spiral Chocolates ($10, one per customer).

Well that’s what I remember. I really should start taking my digital recorder to these things. Hope to see you all at Odessa this Saturday!!

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Other dates of note:

The Annual Delaware Saengerbund Oktoberfest – Sept 15, 16, and 17

Brew at the Zoo – Sept 22

Brews by the Bay – Sept 23

Peco’s 2017 Great Pumpkin Debate – Sept 23

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!

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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).

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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.

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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.

Midas Touch – The Dog(fish Head) Days of Summer

Ok boys and girls, pull up a chair.  Grandpa Ed is going to tell you a little story about a spice you may not have run into very often, saffron.  Hey!  Sit down you ingrates!  Your mom left you here so she could visit her “friend” Paul.  You know, the young buck that never comes around when your father is home.   So you’re going to sit down an listen.  Now where was I?  Oh yeah, saffron.

Saffron comes from the flower of Crocus sativus or saffron crocus which was originally native to Greece and Southwest Asia.  What?  Yeah, like those flowers that come up in the snow every spring.  That’s them.  Anyway, each crocus can have up to four flowers and each flower has three crimson stigmas, which when harvested make saffron.

Saffron has a ton of aromatic compounds in it, and besides giving its unique flavor and yellow color to a variety of dishes (especially rice) it has also been used as a dye, an ingredient in perfume and has been studied for its medicinal properties.

What? Mom doesn’t have it in her spice cabinet?  Not surprising because saffron can be very expense with a jar of just a few threads easily topping $30  Think I’m joking?  I just saw a variety of saffron on the Walmart website that went for $38.54 for 0.01oz.  Think that idiot down on the street corner makes a good profit margin selling those bags of oregano that ain’t fooling anyone?  Well I’m hear to tell you, saffron blows all that away.

Why is it so expensive?  Well, in order to get a pound of saffron (that’s 0.45 grams for your friend down at the corner) you’d have to plant a plot as big as one pro football field.  Then there’s the hand-picking, cleaning, sorting and toasting that has to happen. 

How do I know so much about saffron?  Well many years ago, when I was about the same age as the guy you’ll soon be calling “Uncle Paul”, the Dogfish Head Brewery released a beer called Midas Touch.  Ohhh, I remember it like it was yesterday….

DOGFISH HEAD MIDAS TOUCH $13.99 a 4-Pack

THEM: Midas Touch was the first “anceint ale” produced by Dogfish Head. Although usually thought of as a myth, Midas did exist (actually there were three of them) and ruled the kingdom of Phrygia (located in a region of Turkey) around the 8th century BC.  In 1957,  a team from the University of Pennsylvania discovered a tomb in what is now modern day Yassihöyük, Turkey that contained according to one source,  “the best collection of Iron Age drinking vessels ever uncovered”.  It was from residues found in these 2,700-year-old drinking vessels that the recipe for Midas Touch was formulated.

Midas Touch is brewed with barley, honey, white muscat grapes (a variety used in wines, raisins and table grapes) and saffron.  It clocks in at 9.0%ABV and 12IBUs.

ME: I would have gone golden in color but I guess that would have been to heavy handed.  The color is golden around the edges of my glass, but through the middle it’s a nice shade of orange.  The carbonation is good, no wasted effort on any large head, just a nice ring around the edge of the glass and some very fine lacing.  The nose is light, with hints of grain, perhaps a bit of cracker, a touch of grape and some earthiness that I’ll assume comes from the saffron.  The flavor is also light and slightly sweet,  A nice bit of honey and a bit more grape, along with some hay and herbs.  The finish is pretty clean, it leaves your mouth with a slightly sweet coating, a little mouth water in the check and no real bitterness.  Not a lot to really say about this one.  It pretty much is what it says it is on the label.  A little bit of beer.  A little bit of mead. A little bit of wine.

I haven’t had this beer in years, and to be honest, I didn’t like it when I first had it.  I guess I’ve grown a bit because it’s not as objectionable to me now, but compared to everything else I’ve tasted from DFH this month I’d be doing a total disservice if I rated it any more than a TASTER.  It’s well constructed, and drinks fairly well, but I’d make sure it was something I liked before I plunked down nearly $15 for a 4-pack.

Time for another beer…

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