18th annual Kennett Brewfest is on tap for Oct. 10
By Steven Hoffman
Tickets are still available for the Kennett Brewfest, which features tastings next month from more than 110 craft breweries.
“These are the most brewers we’ve ever had,” said Brewfest founder Jeff Norman.
The annual event, now in its 18th year, will be held Saturday, Oct. 10 from 2 to 6 p.m. It is located at 600 S. Broad St. in Kennett Square and benefits Historic Kennett Square (HKS), a Main Street organization that oversees and guides revitalization in and marketing of the borough.
“The festival has grown along with the craft beer movement,” said Mary Hutchins Executive Director of HKS.
Eighteen years ago, Scott Hammond had opened the Half Moon Restaurant and Saloon in the borough and was serving craft beers – a novelty at a time when name-brand brews ruled the market. Hammond and Norman and others created the Brewfest as a way to raise money for HKS’ predecessor, the Kennett Square Revitalization Task Force, according to Norman.
It was held during the borough’s annual Mushroom Festival, but quickly grew and was made its own event. Nine years ago it moved to the Genesis property on South Broad Street, where it has remained. These days, the borough which hosts the Brewfest is home to two brew pubs and a craft beer store, and the call for craft beers has never been bigger.
According to Norman, that is thanks in part to wholesale beer distributors, which make it possible for Brewfest organizers to include beers sold elsewhere in the nation.
“The wholesaling thing is how we really got to expand,” he said. “With the growth of the whole craft beer industry … we had to start going through wholesale.”
Local representatives of craft breweries throughout the nation then offer samples of their beers at the Brewfest, he said.
As it has grown, the Brewfest has become a reunion of sorts for those who attend year after year.
“I enjoy seeing the multi-generational nature of the event, some years there are families with three generations. Seeing the same happy ticket buyers year after year. The same is true of the wonderful, hardworking brewfest volunteers,” Hutchins said.
This year the Brewfest offers more breweries than ever before and a chance to taste the beverages of some of the top craft breweries in the nation, including Anchor Brewing of San Francisco; Ballast Point; Bell’s Brewing; Flying Dog Brewery of Frederick, Md.; and, of course, Victory Brewing Co., which opened a second brew pub location in Kennett Square.
“Our beer list is usually just superior to other fests,” said Norman, a self-proclaimed craft beer enthusiast.
For local craft beer aficionados, some participating breweries are familiar names – McKenzie Brew House in Chadds Ford, the newly opened Kennett Brewing Co., Conshohocken Brewing Co., Chaddsford Winery (it has a Hard Cider it makes), Lancaster Brewing Co., Susquehanna Brewing Co., and more.
But beer is not all that the Brewfest offers. Food and live music help create what Hutchins’ describes as a tailgating-type atmosphere.
“It’s a wonderful outdoor experience that one can enjoy with friends, try delicious beer, enjoy great music, eat good food and get to know other fun people,” she said.
Food vendors include State Street Pizza, 2 Fat Guys, and Talula’s Table.
The $50 admission allows the ticket holder unlimited 2-oz. samples of beer.
The Brewfest also sells a connoisseur experience for $75, but those tickets sold out in a few minutes, Norman said. Connoisseur ticketholders arrive before the doors open to the public, try specialty beers available just for them, and sample food from Talula’s.
Also at this year’s connoisseur event will be a judging of the best craft beer. Pillar Real Estate Advisors sponsors that award and will allow ticket holders to vote in real time using a specialty phone application, Norman said. The winner will be announced before the connoisseur session ends.
Proceeds from the annual Brewfest benefit Historic Kennett Square and comprise a large part of its annual operating budget, according to Hutchins. Those funds then allow HKS to “put on other event programming like the Third Thursdays as well as providing the budget for marketing the downtown.”
Historic Kennett Square also holds the annual Kennett Winterfest, now in its fourth year. It is usually held outdoors in February and is reminiscent of what the Brewfest was like in its early years, Norman said.
For more information about the Brewfest or to purchase tickets, call 610-444-8188 or go online at www.kennettbrewfest.com.