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 ... 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 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 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 – 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-oiled 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.

“[HOF] 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.

“Odessa is a very important colonial site. It’s a national historic district and a national historic landmark; it’s an extraordinary resource but it all takes funding,” Buckson said.

Foundation officials hope that through successful events like the Brewfest word can spread about other special events, such as Christmas in Odessa, the museum tours and lectures, and other activities. She also hopes that more people will be interested in becoming foundation members.

“We so need our community support to keep this cultural asset. The best way is through membership which also comes with many benefits like 10 percent off at Cantwell’s and so much more,” Buckson said. “We are all very lucky to still have Odessa in existence today. Together can help preserve it for future generations, too.”


WHAT Historic Odessa Brewfest

WHEN Saturday, Sept. 12. VIP admission is from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. General admission starts at 2 p.m. All taps will close at 6 p.m.

WHERE Historic Houses of Odessa, Wilson-Warner House, 202 Main Street, Odessa.

TICKETS General admission, $50. Designated driver, $15. (NOTE: VIP tickets have sold out and are no longer available).

Featured breweries

16 Mile, 21st Amendment, 3rd Wave, Allagash, Alpine Beer, Anchor, Bells, Belukus Beer Imports, Blue Earl Brewing, Blue Point, Brooklyn, Coney Island Root Beer, Dogfish, Dominion, Duclaw, Elysian, Euro Brew Imports, Evil Genius, Evolution (Evo), Firestone Walker, Flying Dog, Flying Fish, Fordham, Frozen Toes, Goose Island, Green Flash, Harpoon, Heavy Seas, Lagunitas, Long Trail, Magic Hat, Mispillion, New Belgium, North Coast, Ommegang, Oskar Blues, Otter Creek, Rogue, Sam Adams, Seadog, Shipyard, Shmaltz, Sierra Nevada, Sixpoint, Small Town & Not Your Father’s Rootbeer, Smuttynose, Southern Tier, Stone, Stoudts, Troegs, Twin Lakes, Unibroue, Victory, Weyerbacher, Wolavers, Yards.

Featured distilleries

- Painted Stave and Delaware Distilling

Featured wineries

- Harvest Ridge Winery and Fenwick Wine Cellars

Featured food vendors

- Cantwell's Tavern, Roaming Raven food truck, Fromage a Cheese Boutique, and Hy-Point Dairy