Dover Downs preparing for Beer Festival
DOVER, Del. — When Dover Downs Hotel & Casino first launched its craft beer-themed Brew Festival four years ago, there were about 1,800 craft breweries in the country. These days, there are more than 2,700 and the number keeps ticking up.
That same explosive growth is happening right here in Delaware with new breweries and beer festivals popping up every year.
The expansion of Delaware’s craft beer culture has been so rapid that Lindsey Timberman, the Pike Creek publisher of the Delaware Hop Scene website, can hardly keep up.
“It’s been insane. It’s neat to see, but it’s kind of mind-boggling,” says Timberman, who started the website with her boyfriend Eric Roberts in 2012. “We used to go to Philadelphia once a month, but we have no need to now because there is so much happening right here in Delaware. There is always something going on.”
For next weekend’s Brew Festival in Dover, which runs Aug. 16 from 4-8 p.m., a record number of 1,000 people are expected. Each year, the number of attendees has grown right along with the beer scene in the First State, says George Fiorile, vice president and general manager of hotel operations at Dover Downs Hotel & Casino.
Twenty-one breweries from across the country, including Delaware’s own 3rd Wave Brewing Company (Delmar), Fordham & Old Dominion Breweries (Dover), 16 Mile Brewery (Georgetown), Twin Lakes Brewing Co. (Greenville), Mispillion River Brewing (Milford) and Dogfish Head Craft Brewery (Milton), will be represented. Nearly 100 different beers will be available for tasting.
For $25, beer lovers get 10 drink tickets and a souvenir glass for guzzling at the hotel’s Rollins Center, the 18,000-square-foot ballroom that hosts everything from concerts to boxing matches. (Designated drivers get in for $15 and get unlimited soda.)
The hotel’s chefs have also whipped up some off-centered finger foods to pair with the brews. There will be items like peanut butter and jelly waffles and “mac and cheese bombs” in three flavors, including feta and spinach, bacon burger and hot dog.
The hotel will also unveil a new concoction - a stout-battered waffle dog and it’s exactly what you think it is: waffle batter infused with a stout cooked around a hot dog.
In addition to the food and drink, Bear-based island folk/rock act The Splashing Pearls will perform, giving the festivities a cool groove backdrop.
Fiorile says the decision to host a craft beer festival was a no-brainer due to its popularity in the state. Plus, it draws a crowd largely in the 25 to 35 age group, some of whom are checking out the hotel and casino for the first time.
With the fourth annual Brew Festival now joined by more than a dozen annual beer festivals across Delaware, it’s nearly a full-time job for Timberman to keep an up-to-date calendar of Delaware craft beer events on her website.
“Very rarely is there a day in the month when there is not something going on and that speaks volumes about the craft beer scene in Delaware. When we started, we had a Facebook page and hoped to get a couple of hundred people. We’re now up to 2,200 likes,” she says. “It’s a lot to keep up with, but it’s the coolest thing to keep up with because it’s fun.
“It’s beer. Who doesn’t like to talk about beer?”