2015 Historic Odessa Brewfest

This year’s Brewfest promises more beer, food, entertainment

The newspaper for southern New Castle County, Delaware since 1868. Published weekly each Thursday.
Dolores M. Bernal

One of the most successful beer festivals in Delaware is just around the corner – literally.

The second Historic Odessa Brewfest will be held on Saturday, Sept. 12 on the grounds of the 18th century Wilson-Warner House in Odessa.

Attended by an estimated 1,400 craft beer lovers who had the chance to taste brews from about 35 breweries, the event last year is regarded by attendees and organizers as one of the best of its kind.

“[The feedback we received from last year’s event] was all positive. Even the distributors that sold us beer told us that it was one of best well-run beer festivals they’ve been to,” said Jeremy Hughes, vice president of Ashby Hospitality Group, the company that manages Cantwell’s Tavern. “This year there will be more of the same, but bigger – more beer, more vendors, and more music. It’s going to be another successful event.”

The beer festival is one of the Historic Odessa Foundation’s biggest fundraisers. Last year, some $20,000 in proceeds went to the organization’s coffers to help pay for the maintenance and preservation of the colonial town’s historic homes and the museum’s educational programs, according to Debbie Buckson, HOF’s executive director.

This year’s event is expected to bring in double the proceeds and offer attendees the chance to taste brews from 56 breweries, two Delaware distilleries, and also two wineries from downstate.

The festivities will also feature music on two stages, expanded festival grounds which will include standing room and seating in the mansion’s gardens, and more general admission tickets.

Craft vendors and artisans have also been invited for the first time at the event to sell a variety of novelty items.

Attendees should also expect to see more food vendors offering gourmet menu items – a trend that Buckson hopes will be in the upswing.

“This event isn’t just about beer. We’re hoping to eventually become a festival that celebrates the culinary history of Delmarva, especially of the Delaware area,” said Buckson.

Cantwell’s role

Cantwell’s Tavern participation in co-coordinating the event along with staff and volunteers from HOF is partly why the event has been so successful. The staff at Ashby Hospitality Group which also manages other top-rated restaurants and bars such as 8th & Union Kitchen and McGlynn’s Pub, has years of experience catering events – including wedding receptions held at Odessa’s historic homes.

According to Hughes, this high level of service has helped run the Odessa Brewfest like a well-iron oil machine, and that’s something mutually beneficial to HOF and the Ashby Hospitality Group which gets to keep the profits from Cantwell’s food booth sales at the event.

“Historic Odessa Foundation is our landlord and it’s a great partnership. [Years ago] they wanted a restaurant to come in and cater the events, and I think they’re happy. We like it here,” Hughes said. “[Cantwell’s] is doing really well and we’re growing every year.”

Making Odessa the focus

Holding the Odessa Brewfest at a 246-year-old historic mansion is part of the event’s charm, according to organizers. Patrons are free to roam around from beer tap to beer tap through the nicely kept grounds surrounded by state and national treasures. This experience is one that Buckson hopes will encourage people to support the foundation throughout the year.

One of the most successful beer festivals in Delaware!