We Live in One Hulluva Craft Beer State - Brew At The Zoo, Art is Social, Kennett Brewfest, Dogfish Dash and DFH Mug Club Party!

Two weekends ago was about as crazy, yet some how as relaxed, as it could have been! We were going to be kicking off our weekend with Brews at the Zoo and Art is Social in Wilmington on Friday night, the Connoisseur Tasting at Kennett Brewfest in Kennett Square, PA on Saturday, and Dogfish Dash in Milton on Sunday?! Oh, and then the Dogfish Head Mug Club Party back in Milton on Monday night?! Where do we begin?!
A map of Friday night's adventure
Last year the annual Dogfish Dash, benefiting the Delaware Chapter of the Nature Conservancy , was the same weekend as Bike to the Bay. After riding 75+ miles, there wasn't much dash left in us, but we still had a blast...although it could have been slight delirium setting in! You get a 5K and a beer in before 9am on a Sunday morning, some great swag and a yummy breakfast. Totally worth the price of admission (as long as the lines aren't too killer long for that beer!) 

Saturday and Sunday's adventures
In the middle of March, we found out that registration for the Dash would open the beginning of April. When it did, we signed up right away, knowing it would fill up, and quick. Registration opened on April 2nd, and by the 3rd we had a room reserved for the night, and were all set.  We thought to ourselves, "awesome, another great excuse to spend the weekend at the beach, and at our favorite place down at the beach - which just happens to be 2 doors down from the Dogfish Head Brewpub - Crosswinds Motel!" Little did we know that weekend was about to get way busier!

Go figure, 2 months later, we found out that the Kennett Brewfest was going to be the same weekend! Doh! We were faced with a dilemma - do we just do the dash, and skip one of our favorite brewfests? Or do we give up our spot in the sold-out dash, one of our favorite DFH events of the year, and just do the brewfest? We knew we would regret skipping one, so we figured, let's just do both! Why not?!  

The great thing about the Dash this year is that you could pick up your run packets Friday, Saturday or Sunday - so this worked out almost perfect! We purchased tickets to the Connoisseur Tasting at the Brewfest, which runs from Noon until 1:30 (with the general session of the Brewfest starting at noon) and the Dash wasn't until 8am Sunday morning, and we could pick up our packets until 8pm on Saturday or bright and early Sunday morning before the dash. Yes, we are a little crazy running from one end of the world to the other in such a short time, but we knew it was SO going to be worth it! 

But wait, it actually gets a little crazier! The end of July we then found out that the latest Art is Social was going to be Friday night, and then we got offered tickets to Brandywine Zoo Brew at the Zoo - holy crazy weekend was about to ensue!
Love this view from Brandywine Park

When we found out that Ulysses American Gastropub wanted to offer us two tickets to give away for Brandywine Zoo's Brew at the Zoo, we were so excited! But we weren't going to just give them away, we were going to make people work for it! I suggested we do some sort of trivia. Maybe zoo related? Eric immediately said, no, let's have them tell us the name of Ulysses' smoker (it's Bertha for those of you who don't know!) We were psyched by the number of responses we received, but there could only be one winner. We randomly drew a name, and the winner was one of our followers, Scott! (Congrats again, Scott! We're so glad you had such a great time at Brew at the Zoo!) 
 Animal print & beer! 
We were also lucky enough to be attending Brew at the Zoo. You get to wander around the zoo, with the zoo staff showing off some of their "residents," all while drinking great beer, and munching on some tasty food! 

Ulysses had a super yummy pork sandwich topped with a kick butt homemade pickle; BBC Grill & Tavern had a great grilled chicken wrap, we had a way awesome pork belly taco from Washington Street Ale House, and then proceeded to have way too much fun with our(ceviche!) nacho creation from the nacho bar that Kid Sheeleen's had set up! 

There was beer too, of course! We had a little Dogfish Head 60 Minute, Otter Creek Brewing Black IPA, which was SO good, as well as Tiger Lager, an appropriately served beer from Asia Pacific Breweries Ltd., of Singapore. They also had Victory Golden Monkey (again, quite appropriate for the zoo!) and Big Bison Ale, a Dubbel, from Crown Valley Brewing in Missouri. The weather couldn't have been more perfect for such a fun event. And check out the glass we got for attending - seriously, I thought it was so cool!

With Brew at the Zoo starting at 5:30, that gave us plenty of time to go to Delaware Art Museum's Art is Social event later that night (and stop by our friend Kathleen's house in between!) If you haven't been to one of the Art is Social events, you're really missing out! 

The event starts after the museum has closed, and with it being such a gorgeous night out, we not only got to walk through the galleries of the museum, it was a great night to take advantage of the tent they had set up outside and to wander through the Copeland Sculpture Garden and the Labyrinth. As if drinking craft beer in such an awesome setting wasn't enough, they also had two DJ's and the very cool, very funky Dr. Sketchy's Anti-Art School of Philly back for this Art is Social. Dr. Sketchy's school is quite cool and quite unique. This time they invited artists to sketch Victoria-era costumed models in a a series of quick poses. It's pretty cool to watch - or get involved in, if you want!

Frank's Union Wine Mart provides the beer selections and the beer samples (various beers from Atlantic Brewing Company this time around!) for the event. Available for purchase were Flying Fish Oktober Fish, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and Southampton Publick House Pumpkin Ale (plus some other, not-so-craft beers!)
They have several Art is Social events throughout the year (that we always mention on our Facebook page!) Our friend Heather is the brainchild behind this awesome event, and they are always a great way to spend a Friday night! Next time one is happening - don't miss it! 

Saturday was going to be a hectic day, and we couldn't wait to get it started! The Connoisseur Tasting for the Kennett Brewfest kicked off at Noon, and we knew we wanted to get there and in line ready to go as early as possible. I mean, with a list like this, how could we not?!

Brewery Beer
Allagash Curieux 
Boulder Wine Barrel Saison
Clown Shoes Chocolate Sombrero
Dark Horse Fore Smoked Stout
Dock Street Thiriez collaboration
Dogfish Head Namaste
Evil Genius Trick or Treat Chocolate Pumpkin Porter
Fegleys Brew works Arctic Alchemy
Flying Fish Exit 4 American Triple
Forest and Main Solaire and Dukes Pale
Goose Island Belgian series
Hill Farmstead Vera Mae
Jester King Petite Prince and Noble King
Leinenkugels Big Eddy series Wee Heavy, IPA, Baltic Porter
Maine Beer Co. Peeper Pale Ale
McKenzies Dark and Stormy Night Quad
Neshaminy Creek "Leon"  Russian Imperial Smores Stout 
Ommegang Scythe and Sickle Harvest Ale
Otter Creek/Long trail 20th Anniversary/ Triple Bag
Prism Felony IPA
Round Guys Old Grumplestilskin
Sierra Nevada Ovila Golden
SlyFox Hefeweizen Dopplebock
Starr Hill Northern Lights IPA, Pumpkin Porter
Stillwater Artisinal Ales As Follows
Stone 16th Anniversary
Stoudt's Brewmaster Reserve Pumpkinfest
Tired Hands FarmHands, Hophands
Troegs Scratch Series Special HOPS IPA
Twin Lakes Tweeds Tavern Stout Firkin
Victory Baltic Thunder
Yards Bourbon Barrel aged Old Bart
Magic hat Burn Pile

There were definitely some beers that stood out from the others. The ones highlighted in red were at the top of our list to try - and man were they worth seeking them out! Our preference is usually a great IPA, and we have so many of them during the Connoisseur Tasting! We could wax poetic for hours on all of the great brews we had, but figured highlighting them just might be easier! If you are visiting any of these breweries and they have these beers available, try them!!
A few local-ish brews really stuck out with us from the Connoisseur Tasting.  Prism's Felony IPA, a hybrid double IPA. It was one of our favorites of the day actually. The hops were prominent, and the beer went down smooth, which is just how we like our IPAs. Another one of our top favorites was Troeges Special HOPS IPAan Imperial Red Ale they brewed for the HydroWorx Underwater Marathon, benefiting the Wounded Warriors organization. Very cool.

As many samples as we had during the Connoisseur Tasting, there were still a few breweries we wanted to stop by before calling it a day at the Brewfest and heading down state. 

We had to stop by Argilla Brewing Co. at Pietro's Pizza and say hi to Steve, and of course try out his Hopicana, a Black IPA brewed with orange peels! We also hit Anchor Brewing where they were pouring Brekle's Brown (which we really liked last year as well!) We couldn't leave without stopping by the Lagunita's tent, where they were pouring the IPA and the Pils. Still loving Harpoon after our trip to Boston earlier this year, we stopped and had one of their Octoberfest brews. Last year we discovered Crispin, a great gluten free alternative for me, and recently I've been drinking Omission Beers, in particular, the Pale Ale. It's by far one of the best gluten free beers I've had in my almost 2 year long search! We couldn't leave the Brewfest without a stop by their tent either! One of the only other stops we made during the general session was at Woodchuck, again, because of my attempt to try this whole gluten free drinking thing (I'm really not very good at it!) Woodchuck Hard Ciders had both their Fall and their Pumpkin Ciders. Both were pretty good. 
Cheers! It's Lagunitas time!

We would be silly not to mention the awesome food that was present at the Brewfest! One of the best parts about the purchase of the Connoisseur Tasting ticket is the Talula's Table lunch that comes with it. We l.o.ve. Talulu's and love everything they make. This year it was a pulled pork mac and cheese and the yummiest peas and of course, a little slice of cake that was delightful. I only took a few bites of the cake because I was saving room for one of Dia Doce's cupcakes. This little cupcake truck rocks - and they have a Cupcake Wars win under their belt to prove it! Take a look at the flavors they had going on at the Brewfest: 
How can you pick just one flavor?

  • Bacon maple
  • jalapeno popper
  • Salted caramel stout 
  • Whiskey sour
  • Pumpkin chocolate chip
  • Cookie Dough
  • Apple crisp
  • Black magic

We had the Bacon Maple last year and it was beyond. There's not a single doubt in my mind why they won Cupcake Wars! This year, as much as we wanted one of each, we settled on the Salted Caramel Stout...which I think we ate in 30 seconds flat! Her cupcakes are just fantastic!

The one thing that we've seen at Brewfests past is Hockessin's Two Fat Guys stand offering bacon on a stick. Now obviously we're not typically one to shy away from bacon (as you can tell by the bacon lollipops we had in Dallas and the bacon maple cupcake we had last year) but we just had to admire from afar this year. I will say, you see a ton of that stuff wandering around the Brewfest! I mean, it makes sense - what goes better with bacon than beer!

Time to get dashing!
After nearly 3 1/2 hours at the Kennett Brewfest, we called it a day, and made our way down to the beach where we headed to the Dogfish Head Brewpub to pick up our Dogfish Dash packets. You get so much fun stuff when you pick up your packet for the Dash. We got a great resuable bag, a kick a*s t-shirt and some other goodies. Man, had I wished I was thinking far enough ahead as one Dasher did - she actual accented and bedazzled her t-shirt - it was pretty impressive! But even without the unnecessary bedazzling (Eric's thoughts, not mine!) it is still a pretty cool T! 

Once we picked up our goodies we met our friend Stacey, who was also doing the Dash, and headed into Dewey on the J-Train (or as some like to call it, the Jolly Trolly) to have dinner at Gary's Dewey Beach Grill. We tried going to Gary's the night before Bike to the Bay, but they were closed for a private event. Boo. But we made it there this past weekend! We love going to Gary's when we're at the beach. The food is so good. There are so many healthier options on their menu - and they serve great beer! I mean, how can they not with "Don't Worry, Be Hoppy" on their sign outside?! They had Long Trail Harvest on tap, so I went with that. Eric went with Dogfish Head 60 Minute on tap, and Stacey was having a pumpkin craving, so she had the DFH Punkin bottle. The three of us split an appetizer of hummus, and then Eric and I split a cup of the of turkey chili and seafood etouffee. It was all SO good! 

"Training" for the Dash!
After dinner and a couple beers later, we made our way back to Rehoboth and stopped into Dogfish for one last drink and dessert. Oh boy was that a good idea! I don't normally sway away from my beloved beer, but if there's one place I'm okay with switching to something other than beer, Dogfish Head, where they distill their own spirits, would probably be the place to do that! As much as I couldn't wait to try the Wet Hop American Summer After Dark, I decided on the Nutty Caucasin, made with homemade coffee liqueur  my absolute favorite vodka of their's, the peanut butter vodka, and milk from Lewes Dairy. Eric had the Wet Hop, thank goodness so I could try some, and Stacey had the Punkin Pie Martini: Fifer Orchards roasted pumpkins with pumpkin pie spices and vanilla vodka. Hello fall in a glass! 
There's nothing average about these!

Now here's the crazy part. We picked two desserts to split between the three of us. We could have picked just one and had more than enough to take care of that sweet tooth! We had the White Chocolate Chicory Stout Bread Pudding, that I kid you not, was the size of a small bowling ball (okay, maybe not that big, but it was huge!!) and the Chicory Stout Bacon Chocolate Cheesecake (we were finally going to let ourselves try this one!) Oh my heaven were these desserts divine! We felt guilty leaving way too much behind on both of these awesome desserts, but we may have had to sleep at DFH if we had! Holy food coma!

Sunday morning came, and we were on the road to Milton by 7am! Dogfish has been hosting the Dogfish Dash since 2007. This year they had 1,547 runners, which tops out at the most they've ever had! A total of $38,500 was raised for the Delaware chapter of The Nature Conservancy. On top of that, Blue Hen Organics and the Delaware Chaper of the Surfrider Foundation helped Dogfish recyle 94.7% of the waste produced that day - which just happened to be one of the highest recycling rates for an event in the entire country for the organization! Check this out - the winner of the Dash, Jeff Powers, did the 10K in 33:14! Whoa!!! 

If you have three minute, you've gotta watch this video from the Dash!  

If you're a runner, and you're a craft beer drinker, you should be doing the Dogfish Dash! But beware - it sells out. Fast. You get to start a Sunday off with a little exercise, a little breakfast, a little beer (if you don't mind waiting in a long line...), and a little brewery tour!
Wet Hop American Summer After Dark
We decided to stop by the Brewpub one last time on our way out of town (as we always do) so that I could grab a pint of Wet Hop American Summer After Dark (and Eric a My Antonia). We needed a little something to eat, so we tried the "snack" listed under the Weekly Specials. I am so glad we got this! It came with Red Dragon Cheese (English cheddar with ale and mustard seeds), as well as Hop-Pickles from Brooklyn Brine, which are made with 60 Min IPA and Hop Oil, along with 90 Minute IPA marinated olives! It was just what we needed!

Pickles, cheese and olives. Yes, please!
We have a jar of the Hop Pickles at home, and initially really liked them. Now that they've been marinating a bit more, we really like them! They are a must try if you haven't already! And if you're feeling really adventurous the next time you visit the Brewpub, try their Pickle Vodka Bloody Mary made with their homemade Bloody Mary mix and their Blue Hen Vodka infused with spicy 60 Minute IPA Hop Pickle Brine! After a bad Bloody Mary experience (which of course translates to, "I drank waaayyy too many one time!") I wasn't too anxious to try it out, but the bartender said they're a pretty awesome way to start your day! 

We called it an early day in Rehoboth and made our way back up Route 1 because it was back to reality the next day. Except that we were going to be right back on that very same highway Monday afternoon at 4pm as we would make our way back down to Milton for the Dogfish Head Mug Club Party! Yes, we're nuts, and we love it!

'07 Raison D'Etra. '08 Fort. Whoa.
The Mug Club Party is worth the price of admission (admission being the cost associated with joining the club!) You get various discounts throughout the year on food and drink at the Brewpub, and on merchandise. You also get first notice of different events going on in the Dogfish World, such as Analog A-Go-Go and beer dinners. But the party was the best part! So it was on a Monday. So we both had to work the next day (after 45 (mine) and hour (Eric's) long commutes!) It was totally worth it! When we arrived, we were greeted with the smell of some serious grilling going on, and beer. Lots of beer! They had Punkin, Festina Peche, Indian Brown, 60 Minute and Burton Baton available for us to drink (and drink, and drink, and drink...) when we first got there. The surprise of the night was the DFH crew quietly putting out Two Blind Myces, a beer-wine hybrid fermented in red wine barrels near the end of the night. An even bigger surprise and delight was the 2007 Raison D'Etra and 2008 Fort they had in the tasting room! Of all the times I've had Fort, there has never been such a pronounced raspberry flavor. Man, it was like drinking the freshest liquid raspberries, but with a serious kick! 

On top of the awesome brew the had for us throughout the night, the Dogfish team put together a crazy good spread of food! Everything from chorizo and aged Gouda on the charcuterie, to crab dip, and the freshest, sweetest corn on the cob I've ever had, to go with the wild boar and venison jalapeno cheddar sausages! Our sweet tooth was met with Palo Santo brownies with homemade whipped cream. Holy moly!  

A little photo recap of the Mug Club Party
Sam attends the party, as does Matt, the Brewpubs Assistant Manager and keeper of all things Mug Club. There are tours of the brewery throughout the night too. On this night Sam didn't lead a tour inside the brewery, he led us on a brewery tour outside to talk about the construction and expansions they're currently going through! One of the things we were most impressed to hear, besides the tremendous amount of awesomeness that is going on with the brewery and storage facility expansions going on, is how much Sam and DFH are taking the town of Milton into major consideration when designing various aspects of the new spaces, including having their trucks travel on the lesser inhabited road as to not to disturb as many local folks.

Sam also talked about the brewery's latest collaboration with Sierra Nevada. This time they're working on a East Coast meets West Coast Imperial IPA Rhizing Bines. The brew will go through DFH's continual-hopping process and will dry hopped with an experimental varietal hop, Hop 644. Sierra Nevada is also sending DFH one of their Torpedo system (from their new brewery location in North Carolina) for dry-hopping. Crazy. And we can't wait to try it! 

The gentleman wearing the hat in the above pictures is local artist, Eddie Gross. In addition to some pretty cool artwork, Eddie is the mastermind behind some pretty awesome pieces of Dogfish Art. You have to check out his site, Yay Artwork! He did a few pieces just for the Mug Club Party, including two specifically for Sam and Matt. He provided everyone that attended a chance to take answer questions about Dogfish and their history (and their future) and a few lucky peeps took home some of his artwork. I wanted to kick myself for not answering the questions! We got so excited to take the tour with Sam, that we lost track of time and didn't get them answered in time. And of course I knew all but one! You can see Eddie asking Sam the questions in the black and white pic. As you can probably guess, he knew all the answers! You may see Eddie sitting at the bar at the Brewpub working on his next piece! 

When a weekend includes this much craft beer and craft beer fun, we can't help but feel pretty darn lucky to live in such a great area, and with such awesome craft beer loving to help keep this industry kicking! As the next weekend approaches, I'm already starting to day dream about the fun we're going to have...

It's finally time to call it a night...