Kennett Brewing Company opens to a grateful and thirsty reception
By Richard Gaw
By Richard L. Gaw, Staff Writer
To many of the connoisseurs of brew who descended upon Chester County's newest brew pub at its grand opening last Sunday, their visit had the semblance of a religious journey to Lourdes, in the foothills of the Pyrenees.
After more than a year of starts, stops, delays and deliberation, the long-awaited Kennett Brewing Company opened on June 21, and by the latter part of the afternoon, every table and bar stool was occupied, every beer on tap was being served, and the kitchen was slammed with more orders from an eclectic menu.
Leaving the hearty swarm of customers for a moment, owner Mark Osborne escaped into the cool catacombs of the pub's brewing "house" to keep the supply up with the demand.
"My biggest concern is that I keep busy in here so that I don't run out there," Osborne said. "Initially, I'm not doing growlers until I find out what the demand is."
From Shrunken Head Skull Mind to Bollocks Baird Black Session IPA, a primary mission of the Kennett Brewing Company will be to introduce customers to tastes and textures that they won't normally find at other brew pubs.
"If everything works out as planned, our customers can expect beers that they can't find anywhere else. I really worked on some unusual English-type brews," Osborne said. "When it comes to brewing, I think the British are about fifty years ahead of everyone else. I'm sorry, Germans. I'm sorry, Belgians. The Americans are catching up, but there are some things that I do that I've found from English breweries that haven't been widely adopted anywhere else, that can add a few layers of flavor that aren't in most domestic beers."
In order for any brew pub to be successful, a complimentary relationship must form between what's on tap and what's on the menu. While customers can order any one of eight beers on tap, they can also enjoy pub-like snacks like Cajun Boiled Peanuts at $3 a bag to Lobster and Brie Dip, priced at $13, as well as an assortment of reasonably-priced pub grub favorites. The mastermind behind the menu is Michael Hall, former owner and head chef at the former Muse in Oxford.
"One of the most fortunate strokes that happened here was when we were getting to the point where we needed someone to run this kitchen, Chef Michael was available," Osborne said. "He is outstanding. I want to make sure that he and I remain in a competition to see who can keep their end of the pub at the best level possible, as far as ingredients and presence."
There are no garish-looking, neon-lit signs that direct customers to the Kennett Brewing Company. At its Broad Street entrance, there is only a modest sign and an arrow beneath it that lead visitors downstairs into a cool, Speakeasy-type atmosphere that offers them the opportunity to enjoy their experience at two bar areas or at various tables. While Osborne said that the first few weeks of the Kennett Brewing Company will be dedicated to introducing itself to Kennett Square and ironing out the kinks that every new establishment has, that the passion is already embodied within every glass.
"Every time I brew a batch, I try to make it the best thing I can make," he said. "I keep copious notes on the last time I brewed that beer, and go over it and find out whether or not I can express it a little better. That's the dedication that our customers can expect."