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.

A Discussion with New Event Manger John Doerfler About the 2016 Delaware Wine and Beer Festival

DWaBF2014A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of talking to John Doerfler, Sales and Event Manger for Kent County Tourism and the new person behind the Delaware Wine and Beer Festival.

I wanted to talk to John to ask about any potential changes there may be coming for this year’s festival in light of some of the issues that plagued last year’s event. For those who didn’t go to last years or didn’t hear any of the rumblings, I’ll try to sum it up briefly.

It was crowded.

Oh Lordy, was it crowded.

By the time we returned to the main festival after visiting the homebrew competition we found the place had turned into a collection of queued people waiting in one line or another. Lines at the vendor tents were easily 30-40 people deep, even deeper at the port-a-potties. The main path through the event was so crowded that it was hard to tell if you were standing in a vendor line, or standing in the line to get passed the vendor lines and some of those vendors would end up running out of beer early into the festival.

We left early. Our friend (who had bought a VIP ticket) never got a beer from a vendor having only tasted the beers during the homebrew judging.

I was disappointed because in the past, The Delaware Wine and Beer Festival had been my favorite yearly event, an awesome collection of everything in the beverage scene in the state of Delaware. Some time later I hoped that my disappointment was confined solely to me and my group, and I hoped everyone else who had attended found the festival enjoyable and fun.

That was not the case.

The Delaware Craft Beer and Wine Lovers Facebook page event for the festival had over 3200-people who had clicked that they were going to the event. People were posting comments about how much they looked forward to going and were eagerly tagging their friends to spread the word. Immediately after the event however, the tone on the thread changed. It seems that we were not the only ones disappointed by the event.

And boy did they let us know.

DWABF Comments

From the looks of things, the next festival would have its work cut out for it trying to address the issues that had been raised and so with that thought in mind, I contacted John to talk about that very thing.

However, the phone call I went into thinking of strictly as an interview turned out to be more of a discussion. Plans for this year’s festival were still being ironed out, and John was very interested in hearing what criticisms myself and others had about last year’s event to see if they were in line with some of the feedback he had heard.

As such I won’t write a detailed recap of our discussion, I will instead hit some of the highlights to explain the reasoning behind the announced changes.

VENUE: As stated in Thursday’s release, the event is being moved away from the Delaware Agricultural Museum. Moving the festival to the Harrington Fairgrounds immediately relieves several of the problems from last year. The larger venue allows the festival to be more spread out and thus eliminate the congestion, plus make space for more toilets.

John stated another advantage to the move, “We have access to a couple of big buildings allowing us to have some of the vendors inside and if the weather is bad we could move the whole festival indoors.”

VIP DIFFERENTIAL: Of all the big issues I thought last year’s event suffered from, I thought this was a pretty important one. When I stated that some folks didn’t see the value in the VIP ticket compared to the general admission ticket I had to admit that I agreed with them.

John definitely could see their point, and we did discuss some options but Thursday’s release made no mention of VIP tickets. When I inquired as to why, Marketing and Communication’s Manager, Justine Zimney was quick to respond, “As of right now, we are still working on details such as the VIP tickets and the homebrew competition. The press release sent out this morning was to highlight the new venue as well as early bird tickets.. which is the first time we are doing a special early bird ticket price! Once more information is released then we will have an additional press release.

If you haven’t seen the information yet, the festival is offering general admission tickets from now until July 8th, for only $25. After July 8th, advance admission will be $35, and day-of-event tickets will be $40. Your ticket will get  you entrance into the festival and you can sample any beers, wines or spirits, as well as purchase a full pour (full glass of beer, wine or a cocktail).

RUNNING OUT OF BEER: While many festivals rely on brewers to donate their beer, that’s not been the case with the DWaBF. When I asked if it was true that the festival buys all the beer from the vendors, John confirmed that that was indeed the case. “For other festivals I could offer them exposure in return for a brewery’s beer, but these vendors already have that. They’ve worked hard on their product. Why shouldn’t they get paid for it?”

So how do you make sure you’re buying enough. This is where John’s previous experience with festivals at Dover Downs and as a onetime caterer comes in handy. “There are ways to calculate this kind of stuff. I never ran out of anything when I catered.”

Still, will this guarantee that some breweries won’t still run out. No, because sometimes breweries can only give so much. I happen to know that part of the reason Argilla left early last year was because their annual Fall Festival was the following weekend and Steve only had so many kegs he could release to Delaware’s event.

Likewise, Big Oyster had just started up their small production brewery and was also probably limited to the number of kegs they could contribute.

That being said, John’s goal is to have as much beer (and wine, mead, spirits) available for festival goers throughout the entire event.

LONG LINES: Although John acknowledges that some waiting in line is a benefit to help control over consumption, he was quick to point out that he felt that waiting 25-30 minutes in line for a sample was unacceptable. John would like to see three to four smaller lines at each tent instead of one long one. “If we could set it up where the breweries have more taps and we have more volunteers to help them pour, then the line problem becomes more manageable”.

And as far as people standing in line waiting to get into the festival? “We have access to the latest technology to get people into  the festival as fast as possible”, John said.

I was very encouraged about this year’s festival after my discussion with John. I found him eager to discuss how the festival might be improved and he took none of the issues from last year’s patrons lightly or offhandedly. In fact, on several occasions when I brought up an issue he would quickly agree that there should be a better alternative which lead me to believe that he had already given the matter some consideration.

I think this can be best illustrated by a point towards the end of our discussion when I brought up the fact that many people were disappointed in the use of plastic cups. I didn’t even get to finish my statement.

“Yeah, we won’t be doing that. They’re gone.”

As always I’d like to thank both John Doerfler and Justine Zimney for taking some of their valuable time to talk to me.

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Event Details: (Facebook, Website, Tickets)

  • Saturday, October 15, 2016, 12 noon – 5 p.m.
  • Delaware State Fairgrounds
  • 18500 S. DuPont Highway, Harrington, Delaware

The festival includes live music, performers, games, and access to a select number of local eateries featuring gourmet foods and Delaware delicacies.  We will offer a merchandise store and a wine store with discounted prices on bottles or cases of Delaware-made wines.

This autumn festival will have you experiencing some of the First State’s finest culinary landscape. A food unique to Delaware called “scrapple,” a pork-based meal known to be Delaware’s most icon dish, is a fan favorite for many. Guests can look forward to a variety of Delaware delicacies such as seafood and barbecue dishes. Food trucks from local culinary artists will also be set up with delicious and convenient items for all to enjoy

You must be 21 to attend.

Please note:  There are no refunds for this event, and it will be held rain or shine.

The Local Tap – The 55th Annual Colonial Highland Gathering

This past weekend we participated in what has become a yearly tradition here at The Dogs of Beer, we packed everyone up and attended the 55th annual Colonial Highland Gathering in Fair Hill, Md.

Once a year a horde of pipers, drummers, athletes, artisans and Celtic minded people descend on the one time steeplechase track and turn it into a little slice of rolling Scottish Hillsides. The country side resonates with the sounds of drums and bagpipes as bands tune in the field preparing for the Massed Bands as a crowd in the stands cheers for athletes as they compete traditional events such as caber toss, weight throws, and one of my favorites the sheaf toss.

But that’s not all there is to see and do. If you explore the grounds you’ll find such interesting things such as dance competitions, fiddle workshops, spinning and weaving demonstrations, herding dog demonstrations, the piping in of the haggis and “The Clachan”, the clan tents where you can do some research to get your tartan on.

And of course there’s music. But not just the music from the pipe bands as the fair consistently brings in national and local artists to perform everything from traditional to modern Celtic music. This year the main stage was shared by one of my favorites Albannach from Glasgow whose music is driven by thundering tribal drum beats; and the sisters Searson whose set is a pleasant mixture of Celtic inspired songs and lilting fiddle tunes that will make any lover of this genre of music smile.

In select areas around the fair, local performers Charlie Zahm (along with long time collaborator, fiddler Tad Marks) who I’ve been following longer than both of us would probably care to admit, and Carl Peterson spent the day entertaining the crowd with traditional and original Celtic music.

(As always, click on a picture to see them in slideshow mode)

Of course two of the biggest draws to the Gathering are the many pipe and drum bands that come to compete and perform, along with the athletes who spend the hot day tossing heavy things around in the name of friendly compitition.

Sadly there’s never enough time to  do it all, and before I knew it the time had come to say beannachd leat. A good time was had by all.

 

Buddy Avatar 50A good time was had by ALL?

 

Oh come on. Let’s not do this.

Buddy Avatar 50Dude, they WOULDN’T LET ME IN!!

 

Stop taking it personally. They weren’t letting any dogs in this year.

Buddy Avatar 50I think you need to write a strong letter.

 

That wouldn’t help.

Buddy Avatar 50With lots of forceful sentences with cuss words.

 

Not going to happen.

Buddy Avatar 50Traitor.

 

You’re being childish.

Buddy Avatar 50I WAS LOCKED UP WITH A CAT!!! A CAT!!!! Do  you know the only thing good about being locked up with a cat?

 

No.

Buddy Avatar 50Getting freed from being locked up with a cat!

 

Say goodbye.

Buddy Avatar 50Big Pussy.

 

Enough about the cat.

Buddy Avatar 50I wasn’t talking about the cat.

 

Wait till I get home.

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THE FINAL SIP: State Line Liquors brings Oskar Blues’ Old Chub every year. But it’s not Old Chub until I say it’s Old Chub. And it was Old Chub.

 

Philly Beer Week 2014 – Varga Bar, Tria, Monks and Nodding Head Brewery

When we last saw our intrepid craft beer bloggers, they had survived another Philly Beer Week Open Tap.  And for most years that would have been enough for us, but the next day I woke up to find that Co-Admin Patrick Huff of the Delaware Craft Beer and Wine Lovers was getting together an event to travel into Philly for Varga Bar’s Craft Beer Block Party.  It sounded like a fun crowd was going and, quickly getting the nod from Tracey, we decided to tag along for the day.

This was our first time at Varga Bar, a well known craft beer haven on Spruce Street, and we were  not disappointed. True the “block party” was a little smaller than I had anticipated, it filling only a little more than the length of the bar’s outside facade. The street area contained some tents and tables (and a dunking booth, only the second beer event I’ve ever been to that had one) but for the most part served as an area for people to mingle and converse.

The energy was nice, with people eagerly heading to the beer tent that was selling the likes of 21 First Amendment, Sly Fox, Otter Creek, Sam Adams, Abita and Round Guy’s “The Inquire’s Brewvintational” third place new beer winner, Fear of a Brett Planet – all in cans (No bottle snobs here please); or to the bar itself, which although crowded, was pouring awesome drafts (heavy on New Belgium) of beers we don’t normally see in Delaware like Avery’s “White Rascal” Witbier and Left Hand “Nitro” Milk Stout, which was REALLY good. We made several trips inside to partake of their offerings.

As always click on any picture to see them full size in gallery mode.

After a few hours we were ready to move on and Patrick was keen to walk down to the Tria Cafe.  We only stayed for a couple of beers but figured some snacks wouldn’t be a bad idea after a few hours of drinking so Robert and Patrick ordered a plate of figs and cheese; and Dana ordered some rosemary potato chips.  There are several potato based provisions that I hold in high esteem; the garlic fries at Brewer’s Art and the Pommes Frites at Monks (more on those later) just to name a few, but you can add Tria’s rosemary chips to the list.  Serious snackage.

But this isn’t The Dogs of Chips, so lets talk about the Dock Street Summer Session, The Deschute Black Butte Porter and the Doctor Fritz Briem’s 1809 Berliner Weisse, that all got passed around.  Or better yet,  lets just look at more pictures! Oh, and a nod to the most courteous staff I’ve encountered in a long time.  Really, these guys were just great!

Remember the subtitle for my previous post, “Wrong Turns, Great Beers and Mussels”, well here we go. We left Tria with the intention of finding another place to call our temporary craft beer home when Tracey pointed out that we were only about five blocks from Monks Cafe and, reminding me that we had been denied mussels the night before, suggested we stop there for dinner. Unfortunately this wasn’t just Monks, it was Monks during Philly Beer Week and we had to admit that getting a table might be damn near impossible.

Luckily, while we did encounter an hour and a half wait (time we killed at the Fox and the Hound), we finally did get a table and after some seat shuffling, and menu scanning, Dana enthusiastically stated, “Hey Ed, they have Damnation on draft!” (I was wearing my Damnation shirt).  My eyes quickly found the beer but quickly got pulled to the beer below it, “They have Pliny the Elder on draft!”.  And after a few more seconds Dana responded, “They have Blind Pig at the back bar!”

While it doesn’t require anything to make a meal of mussels better, two Russian River beers I’ve never had (Damnation, Pliny), and one that I had and really enjoyed (Blind Pig) would certainly do just that.  Once we got confirmation from the waiter that the beers were still available, we sent him away with a request of two each of the Damnation and Pliny, plus a couple of orders of pommes frites. – sadly to the bewilderment of Rob, who somehow had been forgotten in the ensuing commotion of ordering.

And I told you we’d get to the pommes frites, or Belgian fries, a classic (and some say original) take on the well known French fry.  Monks makes an awesome pomme frites (sadly not served in the classic newspaper cone, but still) that is served with a culinary condiment that is probably made from ingredients that represent the most vile and unhealthy things found in creation – you know, things like mayonnaise, lard, Justin Beiber melodies and the tears of unloved puppies, yet stills manages to taste really good on a finger full of fried potatoes. So in other words, good eats!

I wish I could give you a mouth watering description of this mussels/frites/Russian River beers feeding frenzy, but unfortunately at that time we were all too focused on our hunger and talking about the beers.  We destroyed three orders of frites, two pots of mussels, and multiple beers in what just may have been a record time. If Monks kept track of those sorts of things. Which they should. But they don’t.

But I will say this about the fabled beers of Russian River, they are VERY good.  I personally favored Damnation, an awesome golden strong ale which thrilled me to no end; and not just because of the shirt, although I’ll admit that being able to say “yes” to the continued question, “Did you like Damnation”, is a great relief.  Next I’d go with the Blind Pig, which I’ve had thanks to a bottle gift from tDoB co-founder Chuck.  Chuck and the Beer Goddess were both very adamant that Blind Pig was a better beer than the fabled Pliny the Elder.  And I’d agree with them – but damn is it close!  The Elder is nothing to sneeze at.  A finely made DIPA to be sure.  I’d love to try this line up again at the beginning of a day of drinking instead of more towards the end. Probably would appreciate them more, if that’s even possible.

After a meal of great food and beer it was, of course, time to call it a night and head home, which of course means that instead of walking to the car, we walked over to Samson Street’s Nodding Head Brewery.  I’ve always enjoyed going to Nodding Head, even back when the space housed the Samuel Adams Brewhouse.  Unfortunately they didn’t have the beer on draft that bears one of my favorite names, Monkey Knife Fight, but they did have their Grog, an English brown ale (so good), and their Ich Bin Ein Berliner Weisse.

Now it really was time to go home.  Tracey and I would like to thank DCBaWL members Patrick for putting the event together, a huge thanks to Rob for being the driver for the day (and getting us in and out of Philly with no wrong turns) and Dana, for well, just being Dana.  Without this event, the Opening Tap would have been the only time we spent at Philly Beer Week, and thanks to it, we know we want to spend more time in Philly for next year’s.

The Menus at Varga Bar
The Final Sip: Last year at Philly Beer Week I touched the Hammer of Glory and it end up “disappearing” for several hours the next day.  This year I attended Varga Bar’s block party and later that night, a fire broke out in the basement and the bar and the apartments in the building had to be evacuated (no damage was done, no beer was lost, and the bar was open again several days later).  Maybe PBW2015 will send me three or four sampler cases to just stay home next year.

 

 

 

 

 

The Local Tap – Hogs and Hops 2013

Well this is a first here at tDoB.  I posted a preview of Hogs and Hops on Friday, attended the event on Saturday and here I am today posting the rundown only a few days later.  Usually I’m no where near this on the ball.  Oh, and as a TOTAL aside, this is my 200th post.  Anyway, as I said in my preview, a lot has changed since the inaugural event last year.

First, let me say that although it is a little bit more of a drive for us, the new digs at Harrington were awesome.  Plenty of room for the competitors, the food/beverage trucks and the vendors; plus a huge open field in front of a good sized bandstand.  We got there a little bit before they could start serving/pouring so after we surveyed the area, we decided to take a moment to walk down the BBQ truck line and see what everyone had to offer.

Whole Hog
The whole hog that was part of the VIP food plate from Mr. BAR-B-CUE. I’ll be seeing this guy later.
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A great selection of food on the grill at Big Fat Daddy’s BBQ

Soon it was time for the event to start so we checked out the three beer trucks to see who had what on tap.  I started with an Old Dominion Monk Czech and Tracey started with a Fordham Wisteria Wheat.

Fordham Truck

With beer in hand we strolled around the venue and checked out the vendors.  We finally got the chance to meet Cindy Small of the Kent County & Greater Dover, Delaware Convention and Visitors Bureau, who were there promoting their up coming Delaware Wine and Beer Festival.  I’ve done some promoting for Cindy, but this is the first time we’d met.  It was great to relax a bit and get to talk about the up coming festival.  But soon it was time for lunch.  VIP ticket holders were served a BBQ platter from Mr. BAR-B-CUE which consisted of two out of three choices: brisket, whole hog pork or ribs.  I told you I’d see that hog later.

BBQ platter from Mr. BAR-B-CUE, beers by Fordham/Old Dominion
BBQ platter from Mr. BAR-B-CUE, beers by Fordham/Old Dominion

It wasn’t long before the bandstand got rocking, as Tyler Toliver and perennial local favorites Love, Seed, Mamma, Jump supplied the music for the afternoon and early evening.  Entertainment was also provided by the folks from Cowboy Up Saloon, who not only set up a fine tent, but got some of the crowd up for country line dance lessons and demonstrations in between sets.

Volunteers at the end of the event take a break and catch a bit of Tyler Toliver's set
Volunteers towards the end of the event take a break and catch a bit of Tyler Toliver’s set
The ladies from the Cowboy Up Saloon get the crowd involved in some line dancing.
The ladies from the Cowboy Up Saloon get the crowd involved in some line dancing.

“Pit row” as I like to call it was fun as always.  As first all we could do was enjoy the smell of smoke wood in the air, and drool over all the different equipment that the teams brought (we were asked not to bother the teams until turn-ins were done).   I always enjoy checking out the teams’ equipment, because you never know when you might see something you’ve never seen before.

Biker BBQ from Millville NJ uses an adapter to constantly feed apple juice into their smoker.
It’s not unusual to be using water in a Blackwood Smoker, but I’ve never seen anyone use an adapter to constantly feed apple juice from a 5-Gallon water bottle like Biker BBQ from Millville NJ.

And of course, many of them used the opportunity to show off.

TFFBBQ displays their xxxxxx chicken from The Middletown BBQ Cook-Off
TFFBBQ displays their trophy for their first place finish in chicken at this year’s Middletown BBQ Cook-Off

But after last turn-in we walked through again and got to stop and talk to a few of the pitmasters including George and Kim Przybylski from Bang Bang BBQ, last year’s Hogs and Hops second place finisher in points.  I asked them how they liked the bigger event.  “I love bigger events,” George commented.  “I normally don’t do small events, I just gave it a try last year.  And this year’s just the beginning.  This year he [Mark Hoffman, event coordinator] had to keep it small due to the KCBS sanctioning, but next year the sky’s the limit.”

Soon it was the time everyone was waiting for, the awards presentations.  The field topped out at 45 BBQ teams from the surrounding area and as far away as North Carolina.  The event consisted of four meat turn-ins: chicken, pork, ribs and brisket.  The top ten in each category were awarded, along with reserve champion (second place all around points) and grand champion (first place).  The Mid Atlantic BBQ Association was on hand as well to award the highest placed team from Delaware as “Delaware State Champion”.

The trophies stand ready as Love, Seed, Momma, Jump finishes their last set.
The trophies stand ready as Love, Seed, Momma, Jump finishes their set.
xxx of Bang Bang BBQ and my thumb wait to hear if they've matched last year's performance.
Kim and George Przybylski of Bang Bang BBQ; and my finger wait to hear if they’ve matched last year’s performance.

Here’s a run down of the results:

CHICKEN:

Third – Aporkalypse Now
Second – GoneHoggin.com
First -Smoke-aholics

RIBS:

Third -GoneHoggin.com
Second –3 Eyz BBQ
First –Badlands BBQ

PORK:

Third – Rockin Robyns BBQ
Second – M & E BBQ
First – Big Dee’s BBQ

BRISKET:

Third – 3 Eyz BBQ
Second – Tasty Licks BBQ
First – Lo’ and Slo’ BBQ

MABA, “Delaware State Champions” – M & E BBQ

RESERVE CHAMPION – Lo’ and Slo’ BBQ

GRAND CHAMPION – Aporkalypse Now

Hogs and Hops 2013 Grand Champions - Aporkalpsy Now
Hogs and Hops 2013 Grand Champions – Aporkalypse Now (Smoke em’ all, let the judges sort em’ out)

Congratulations to everyone!

When I asked event coordinator Mark Hoffman about the turn out, he indicated that he was happy with the numbers, “We estimate attendance to be around 3500 at this point but we won’t know final numbers for a week or two.”  Of course being a beer guy, I couldn’t help but ask about what  got poured out the three beer trucks and the on-field beer bar, “It looks like we burned through about 45 barrels [ETA: I believe he meant half-kegs] of beer, about the same as last year. That may be because we had the wine option with Fenwick wine cellars this year.”

For the most part I think Hogs and Hops surpassed itself in just about every way when compared to last  year.  But there was one feature of the event last year that I (and several other people I talked to) sorely missed.  “We could not do a peoples choice this year due to health [department] regulations on contests like ours,” said Mark when I asked him about the missing Peoples Choice Award from last year.  However, Mark recognizes how much people enjoyed that aspect of the event last year and although he knew he couldn’t implement it this year, he had already been formulating a plan to bring it back.  “But we are working on something for next year already where teams would turn in a tray [of] pulled pork and WE would serve 1/2 oz cups and you vote for your favorites,” he told me.  “It was just too late in the planning stage to add that in this year but we are already trying to develop that system for next year.”

And if everything works out, we’ll be there next year.  After all, what dog doesn’t love a BBQ festival?

CUS with Dog

The Local Tap – Kreston’s Growler Grand Opening with Sam Calagione

As many of you know, growlers are now all the rage here in Delaware.  More than a dozen liquor stores (and restaurants with off-premise licenses) have begun to fill growlers, and I suspect that it won’t be long before that number doubles.  I’m also beginning to see some diversity in the approach stores are taking towards their growler business – especially in equipment.  Some are happy to have just four beers pouring out of a simple kegerator type tap system.  Some are putting in more stylized refrigeration “bars” which allow them to pour from 8-16 different taps.  And then there’s this animal:

That's no moon....
That’s no moon….

That my friends is a three tier PEGAS growler filling system which Kreston Liquors has had installed in both their stores (and nicknamed it “The Deathstar”).  The system has three filling platforms, each capable of drawing from four individual beer lines (for a total of 12 beers total).  The system first purges the air from your growler with CO2, and then slowly fills your growler from the bottom, thus minimizing waste.  It’s a thing of beauty.  Seriously.

Although they’ve been filling for a couple of days, yesterday the Wilmington store decided to have a grand opening if you will.  In order to officially kick off growler sales, all 12 taps were dedicated to Dogfish Head beers (Firefly Ale, Birra Etrusca, Sixty-One Minute, Theobroma, Sah’Tea, Immort Ale, Chateau Jiahu, Midas Touch, Palo Santo, Burton Baton, 60 Minute, and 90 Minute to be precise) and called in to help out and greet the thirsty shoppers was none other than Sam Calagione, owner of Dogfish Head brewery.

Quiet a few people showed up and stood in line for a good while to talk to Sam, get an autographed growler or get a picture taken and I can say that they weren’t disappointed.  Sam was engaging and funny, and didn’t seem to have any trouble finding something to talk to everyone about.  When I told him that the last time he and I shook hands was at the Chicago Real Ale festival in 1994, he smile and comment how much he loved the festival, and was sorry that they don’t have it anymore.  We talked Delaware craft beer quickly (I asked him to sign my growler “The Dogs of Beer”, which led to blog talk) and got an inside scoop on his thoughts on Alemonger’s prediction that  he’ll open a winery by 2015.  I’m not going to reveal what he told me, I’ll just say that for now, give me $20 on “NO”.

Soon it was time to get some beer in my growler (I wanted, no NEEDED Firefly) and I got to talk to Sean and Jeff from Kreston a bit about the new system.  Jeff says they hope to have more of these “growler take overs” in the future.  And Sean informed me that if you have an iPhone or iPad, you can down load Beer Wizard ($0.99) and use that app at any time to find out what’s on draft at either store.

On the way out I bumped into Rob Pfeiffer, head brewer for Twin Lakes Brewery who was only there to pick up a bottle of wine and was wondering why he had such a hard time finding a parking spot on what is normally a not very busy Wednesday.  We got a chance to talk about the upcoming Delaware Brewer’s Guild “Brews by the Bay” (it looks like the collaborative brew will be brewed at Stewarts), and the hurtles of putting out a second shelf product when you package in cans verse bottles (you can use the same bottles, just print different labels, but if you can if have to order a ton of different cans).

All in all it was a great way to kill a couple of hours.  I got to talk to a few people who make the Delaware craft beer scene tick, and I’ve got a growler of Firefly waiting for me at home.

My signed growler.
My signed growler.

Cheers!

The Local Tap – Two Stones Pub’s Brewery Ommegang Beer Dinner

Tracey and I don’t do a lot of beer dinners.  Not for any solid reason, we just don’t seem to get to many.  However, when she found out that Two Stones Pub was having an Ommegang tap take over plus a six course beer dinner paired with the beers from Brewery Ommegang on my birthday, well as she put it, “present obtained”.

The Board at Two Stones
The Board at Two Stones

If you’ve never been to a Two Stones’ beer dinner (and we hadn’t) the set up is nice.  Dinner is served in the back dinning room which is set up with large group tables to encourage comradery and discussion between the guests.  Chef Stigz and Chef Blair pop in and out of the kitchen to let you know about the course you are about to enjoy, and Ben is always in the room sharing his knowledge about the brewery, the beers and and what you can expect from the dinner in general.

Left : The Dinner Menu.  Right : Tracey waits patiently for me to take a shot so that she can drink  her beer.
Left : The Dinner Menu. Right : Tracey waits patiently for me to take the picture so that she can drink her beer.

The first course was simple, a cheese platter consisting of a dutch vintage 3-year gouda, valdeon, beemster 6-month goat cheese and a nice helping of Ommegang’s Hennepin.  There’s not really much to emote upon here, cheese and beer, do I really need to say anything?  Very good start.

Oyster Stew
Oyster Stew

The second course is were they started to kick it into gear – oyster stew.  I found their take on this classic dish to be very intriguing.  The broth was light and creamy, built on a base of carrots, celery and shallots; and didn’t have an overly powerful oyster flavor in it of itself.  No, the “oyster” in the oyster stew came from two large oysters that had been poached in Ommegang Hennepin.  This was delicious, and should make regular appearances on the everyday dinner menu.  Served with a glass of Ommegang’s Whitte.  Yummy.

Next up we had deviled eggs.  Ok, I’m not all in on deviled eggs.  Never have been.  But these weren’t my mom’s deviled eggs.  Served with black pepper bacon, shaved parmesan and micro greens, the eggs had a depth of flavor that would have be fine on their own.  But that would have be to easy.  Instead, they were served on a smear of lemon-garlic cream which may have just been one of the the best things I tasted that night.  Must. Have. Recipe.  We also had a chance to have a little good natured fun with this dish as ironically, this was the first time Stigz had ever cooked deviled eggs.  I’d say he did fairly well.   Served with a glass of Ommegang Rare Vos.

Deviled Eggs
Deviled Eggs

Time to step it up again.  Tea-smoked duck breast and foie gras bread pudding with a blackberry-cider jus.  I love duck, so I was very interested in this dish and, if you’ll excuse the use of a warn out and tired joke, the only thing wrong with it was that there wasn’t enough.  Oh don’t get me wrong, this wasn’t one of those dishes where the duck was hidden, but it was so tender and juicy that I just couldn’t get enough of it.  I wouldn’t have thought that the bread pudding would be something I would have greatly enjoyed, but with blackberry-cider jus, the whole dish came together nicely.  Could it be any better?  Sure, just add a glass of Ommegang’s Adoration.

Tea-Smoked Duck
Tea-Smoked Duck

Ok, I guess if you do enough dinners, even ones with top-notch chefs, sooner or later you’re going to hit a clunker.  Five-spice venison with wild mushroom ragout, leeks and red wine gastrique.  What could go wrong with that?  The venison was breaded (to me it even appeared to be pounded flat) and deep fried.   Anything I could say about this dish, I’ll simply chalk up to it simply not clicking with me, and the possible issues surrounding having to deep-fry 30 pieces of venison in a short time frame.  I’ve had venison many ways, and this one just didn’t resonate with me.  Tracey had the same reaction although she was having more issues with the five-spice I think than the preparation.  Still, what arrived with the venison was very good, and the red wine gastrique was very tasty.  And nothing from the above took away anything from the Ommegang Three Philosophers that came with it.

Dessert.  Well, almost.  Sadly we had to leave before dessert to pick my daughter up from a school activity.  But Ben, being the great man that he is, packed us up a couple of slices of the  apple caramel cheesecake along with a container of the chocolate-belgian stout reduction that was to be drizzled on them.  However, the containers had clear lids on them, so when we got home my daughter caught eye of said cheesecake.  Not being able to say no to my daughter (who had eaten very little because of her activity) I offered her one of the slices, on which she drizzled the reduction and then proceeded to devour it as if she’d never been feed before, asking when she could start coming to beer dinners (you got a ways to go there Ms Sixteen).  Seeing this, I found myself curious and prepped the second slice, eating half of it before Tracey could get into the room.  Being that she’d just started weight watchers, I’m hoping she saw this as a “I was saving you from all those nasty points” gesture, more than the “I gave my slice of cheesecake to my daughter and she said it was so good that I just said ‘Oh hell’ and ate half of yours’, lack of self-control and discipline that it actually was.  The only down note about the dessert was that it was supposed to be served with Ommegang’s Chocolate Indulgence, which sadly, I had zero bottles in the house.

Anyway, those who remember my write up on Pescatore’s Autumn Craft Beer Dinner know that I seem to have some “technical issues” when it comes to taking pictures of dessert, and this was no exception.  So instead I’ll just ask my editor to toss in a random picture.

IMAG1257

Thank you.

All in all the dinner was awesome.  Great food over all, great beer and a lot of fun.  I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for what dinners the guys at Two Stones have coming up in the future.

Time for another beer…..some Chocolate Indulgence I think…

The Local Tap – Jessop’s Tavern

Jessop's Tavern (photo from www.jessops-tavern.com)
Jessop’s Tavern (from http://www.jessops-tavern.com)

It’s time that I right a great wrong that I’ve done to an establishment that at one time, I literally lived within a stone’s throw from – Jessop’s Tavern and Colonial Restaurant (Website : Facebook) in Historic New Castle.  In my younger days of working at my now 25+ year job, I lived in Historic New Castle in an old theatre that had been converted into condos (the old Earl Theatre for  those who are familiar with the area’s history). Back then the tavern was named The Green Frog, and many a night I would take the two minute walk from my condo to share a few beers with other locals and watch Jeopardy on the TV (yeah, we were a rocking town back then).

After several years, the Green Frog closed and reopened as Jessop’s Tavern and I moved to a house a few miles down the road.  You would have thought that after years of forming such a tight bond with an establishment that I would have continued to frequent it even though it was now a two minute drive from me instead of a two minute walk.  But for reasons I can’t explain, that didn’t happen.

Oh, I would always tell people about it.  The nice tap list.  The crock pots full of warm apple cider that would sit on the bar in the winter time.  The occasional live music.  But for some reason, the fondness that would resurface as I waxed poetic never translated into a trip back into town.  Well that all ended the other night when Tracey and I strolled into Jessop’s Tavern after a beer and wine event at the Court House Museum and were blown away.

Do you know who has the biggest selection of Belgian beers in the state of Delaware?  Well, according to proprietor and beer manager, Justin Day, Jessop’s Tavern does.  And with a selection that includes multiple varieties of Affligem, Rodenbach, Gouden Carolus, Malheur, Petrus, Delirium, Chouffe, Chimay, Straffe, Hendrik, Westmalle, Kasteel, Steen Brugge, as well as American Belgian-style brewers Ommegang (Jessop’s has 36 beers on their Belgian list, most in bottle by a good number on draft), we’re hard pressed to argue.  Along with their draft Belgian selections, Jessop’s also has a fine selection of  non-Belgian beers on tap from such breweries as Blue Point, New Castle, Guinness; along with local boys Twin Lakes and Dogfish Head.  We started the evening with a couple of Delirium Tremens  as we talked to Justin about how things were going with the tavern and of course, beer.

Justin Day pours us a couple of Deliriums
Justin Day pours us a couple of Deliriums
One side of Jessop's back bar.  Note the Belgian beers on the top shelf.
One side of Jessop’s back bar. Note the Belgian beers on the top shelf.

We were on the fence about food (only because we’d eaten at our previous event), until Justin said “mussels” and the next thing we knew, we had a bread bowl of Jessop’s crab dip and an order of  “Halve Maen Mossels” (one pound of mussels steamed in Belgian Beer, garlic and West Indies spices).  The crab dip was very good, but the mussels really stole the show here.

Mussels and Crab Dip.  Here's a tip, after eating the crab dip tear up the bread bowl and dip in the juices from the mussels.  Yummy.
Mussels and Crab Dip. Here’s a tip, after eating the crab dip tear up the bread bowl and dip it in the juices from the mussels. Yummy.

Jessop’s has a mussel/Belgian beer special, if you order an order of mussels and a bottle of Belgian beer, they’ll give you $3 off.  You can’t beat that.

The crowd in Jessop’s was pretty lively the night we were there.  Patrons filled the dinning room and the floor was buzzing with waiters and waitresses in colonial garb serving from a menu that reflects the English, Dutch and Swedish history that is rich in this area.  From their website:

Our kitchen strives to maintain authenticity in our Bill of Fare; you will see Dutch cheeses. English pub fare, Swedish sauces, & old American dishes.  Our Chef hand selects all of our seafood to assure freshness.  All of our sauces & dressings are made in house & much of the baking is done here, as well.

Crowd at Jessop's
The crowd at Jessop’s

We’ll definitely be returning more often to this lovely little tavern.  It truly is a unique little spot in our neighborhood with a quality menu  (reflected by it’s 2012 “Best of Delaware” Best Restaurant in New Castle award)  and a must visit for any beer lover (especially Belgian) in the state of Delaware.  If you visit, all you have to do is remember a few simple rules:

Rules
Rules

The wine and beer event at the Court House Museum?  Well, you see….oh, but that’s another post.

Time for another beer….

The Local Tap – Pescatores Autumn Craft Beer Dinner

Tracey and I were fortunate enough to get invited up to Glen Mills PA for an Autumn craft beer dinner held by Pescatores Italian Restaurant.  The menu looked awesome (Tracey was quick to key on the homemade pumpkin cheese cake) and the selection of beers contained several that we hadn’t had before, so we accepted with great gratitude, and made the trip up on a lovely fall Thursday.  Upon arrival, the first thing that greeted us was a sign on the door informing people that the restaurant was closed due to the beer dinner.  Pescatores apparently had no problem finding folks like us who thought the dinner looked fantastic, as they had sold out the entire restaurant!  We were seated at our table by a courteous hostess and quickly greeted by General Manager Dennis Glick who gave a quick run down on the events of the evening and invited us to make our way to the restaurant’s bar for our first beer selection of the evening.

And it Begins….

To get the evening started Pescatores had an offering of two beers to choose from, Long Trail’s Pumpkin Ale, and Magic Hat’s Hex.  The Long Trail had a nice pumpkin flavor with a nice hint of spice mixed in.  This is a really good pumpkin beer.  Hex, which is Magic Hat’s take on a traditional Oktoberfest, gets a flavor twist from the addition of Cherry Wood Smoked Malt and Malted Rye.  I really loved this beer with its nice caramel malt and touch of dryness from the rye.  I’m not sure if it’s available locally, but you can bet I’ll be keeping an eye out for it.  This was a really great start to the evening.

Finch’s Golden Wing Blonde Ale

By the time we were finishing up our beers it was time for the  first course; a mango arugula salad with cherry tomatoes, feta cheese & red onions with a Raspberry Vinaigrette dressing that was paired with a beer I’d never had before, Finch’s Golden Wing Blonde Ale.  Brewer Mike Finch was on hand to introduce his beer, which I found to be solidly in the blonde style, although I though it might have had a touch more hop in the flavor than the style usual does.  There are definitely citrus notes mixed in with the subtle malt flavor and the beer does end with a nice crisp finish.  Probably why the brewery refers to it as a “dirty blonde”. The salad was delicious, the raspberry vinaigrette being something that if I could make it at home, might be just about the only thing I’d ever make to put on my salad.

The Second Course: Crab and Spinach stuffed Calamri in a Zesty Marinara Sauce

Next up was Goose Island’s Harvest Ale, which Pescatores chose to pair with a sauteed calamari stuffed with spinach and crab meat in a zesty marinara sauce.  I’m going to be honest, I’m not much of a calamari guy, however, crab meat and spinach, yeah that I can get in to.  The stuffing was very good with the spinach complementing the sweetness of the crab meet.  Add to that the marinara sauce which  had an excellent flavor and a nice bite to it and the dish really came together.  The Harvest Ale was tasty and showed why it won a bronze medal at last year’s GABF in the Extra Special Bitter category.  I love a well made bitter, and if I could have found this at the liquor store today I’d be drinking it while I write this.

The ladies of Pscatores getting ready to bring out the Goose Island Harvest Ale…
… and a bar full of Uinta’s Punk’n Ale getting ready to go out with the next course.
The Third Course: Pumpkin Ravioli in a Mushroom Cream Sauce

I looked at the next course with great interest.  Pescatores had opted to pair their Pumpkin Ravioli which was  topped with a fresh mushroom cream sauce with Uinta’s Punk’n Ale.  When I did my Pumpkin beer round up last year, Uinta’s was one of my favorites, but I was interested to see if the pumpkin  in both the beer and the dish would be to much.  Punk’n was just as good as I remember it, plenty of perfectly balance pumpkin and spice.  The dish was very good with the ravioli having a lovely pumpkin taste that blended well with the sauce that to be honest, I’d have drunk through a straw if I could have.  Simply delicious.  I found my concerns to be unfounded, as although pumpkin was evident in both the beer and the dish, they were not over powering, and in fact, played well off of each other.

The meat course was next, paired with another beer I hadn’t had, Prism’s Red Zone.  Prism has taken the tradition “fall spices” you’d find in a pumpkin beer (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and allspice) and put them in an Irish red ale base.  Then they throw in a touch of Pennsylvania maple syrup to round it out.  Veal Short Ribs with maple and cinnamon basted baby carrots, and garlic mashed potatoes were paired with it, and the spices and slight sweetness of the beer pair very well with ribs as well as the maple and cinnamon on the carrots.

Finally Tracey had to wait no longer as they brought out the pumpkin cheese cake paired with Troegs’ Java Head stout.  The cheese cake was silky and flavorful, and of course paired with what amounts to a 7.5% ABV cup of coffee was the perfect dessert to end our dinner.  Sadly, I decided to take a little taste of my cheese cake before I took a picture:

Rookie Mistake…..

Pescatores out did themselves with this beer dinner.  Not only were both the food and beer excellent across the board, but the whole evening was a blast with not only representatives from the breweries showing up to discuss their beers, but on top of all that many local businesses donated prizes that were raffled off during the night.  No lie, they gave out a ton of stuff.

One level of the dinning room.
Finally, a quiet moment in the kitchen.

I’d like to thank Dennis for hosting Tracey and I for what turned out to be an awesome evening.  I also want to give a special shout out to the staff, who were so pleasant and worked their butts off bringing out all the food and beers.  Kudos to the kitchen staff for the amazing food, and thanks to the representatives for taking the time to talk about their beers.

I talked to Dennis a few days after the event and he indicated that we can expect more from Pescatores in the future.  “We will be having our spring beer dinner in March, and we will be hosting our second ‘Bootlegger’s Ball’, a prohibition themed blow out, in May.”  We can wait to see what they have planned in the future!

The Local Tap – Two Stones Pub Namaans Opening and my 500th Beer

If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, I don’t need to tell you anything about Two Stones.  There are articles about beer events held there written all over this blog.  Michael Stiglitz and Ben Gumbo opened their beer temple at the old Piece of Ireland location and they’ve been serving the craft beer community well ever since.  So well in fact that just about a year and a half after opening the first location, the guys went out and opened up a second Two Stones Pub on the corner of Foulk and Namaans road.  Knowing that this was going to be an event, I of course drove up for the  opening.

If you’ve been to the original Two Stones, than a lot of things will be familiar at the new location.  The food menu and specials are pretty much the same (hey, if it works, don’t fuss with it) as is the dedication to serving a great diversity of craft beers.  Heck, even some of the faces will be the familiar as some of the staff from the original Two Stones have made the transition up north (I’m going miss Patrick, Kevin and Jill).  Heck, you still have to walk through a hallway full of kegs to get to the bathroom.

The decor of the new location, which tends toward a dark, industrial look with it’s metal cage enclosed lights and its metal accents makes it look very different from the original location.   I think that was a good call by the guys because I’m not a fan of “cookie cutter” establishments.  The beer board has been upgraded, evolving from the standard chalkboard at the original location to a video screen at the new location.  The nondescript black taps are concealed behind box like structures, which gives the bar a nice clean look.  Although I hope after the commotion of this week they start using standard tap handles again.  What can I say?  I love the look of a long row of colorful tap handles.   The new place has added a second beer engine over the single one the Newark location has but sadly, there wasn’t anything on cask that first night while I was there.

L – The crowd waiting for the doors to open.  R – The opening day crowd at the bar.
L – Jill pours a beer with a smile.  R – A table gets their food plus some Stone Brewing swag.
The New Beer Board
L – One of these is the Budda who looks over Two Stones, and the other is the Co-Owner.  I’ll leave it to you to decide which is which.     R – Not in the mood for a beer? That’s fine, Two Stones has great cocktails as well as kick ass bloody marys for Sunday Brunch.
L – It wouldn’t be a Two Stones pub location if you didn’t have to walk through a hall of kegs to get to the bathroom.  R – Congrats guys!!

To celebrate the opening week, the guys decided to do a tap take over every day, with the opening day being Stones Brewery (Ommegang, Allagash, Evolution, Troegs, Victory, Yards and Dogfish Head, were to follow).  I was second in line, and when the doors opened, I walked into the new place with more than just the excitement of the opening on my mind.

It just happened that as the opening of Two Stones Namaans drew near, I also was closing in on a milestone of sorts.  I was only a few beers away from my 500th unique check-in on Untappd, so I timed it to get it at the opening.  And since it was a Stone tap take over, I couldn’t think of a better beer to do it with than Stones’ 16th Anniversary.

Stone’s 16th Anniversary and my 500th check-in

Now I’ll be honest, I’ve found Stone’s Anniversary beers pretty hit and miss in the past.  But the 16th I thought was pretty decent.  Nice tropical fruits notes with plenty of lemon in both the nose and the palette, leading up to a nice crisp finish.  I’ll probably pick a bottle up for review later, at that moment I was just enjoying a nice beer at a great beer bar.

If you’re in the North Wilmington area and haven’t stopped in yet, there’s still time to catch some opening week events.  Check their website or Facebook page.  And even if you don’t make it for the opening, stop in sometime soon and check out what’s going on.  You won’t regret it.