On Saturday, August 25, 2018, Mercer Museum and Fonthill Castle held their 5th Annual Fonthill Castle Beer Festival.
Henry Chapman Mercer was an American archeologist, artifact collector, tile-maker, and designer of three distinctive poured concrete structures: Fonthill Castle, his home, the Moravian Pottery and Tile Works, and the Mercer Museum.
Fonthill, Henry’s “Castle for the New World,” was not only his home, but somewhere he could display his many tiles and prints. Upon his death, he left the castle and his grounds in trust as a museum.
If you pay a little extra to get in early, the first thing you must do upon entering is head up the stairs to the VIP-only area. With a VIP-only beer selection, gourmet appetizers, and a fantastic place to lounge, this is worth the extra money.
I highly recommend getting here as soon as possible, because the food and beer are not unlimited. As the night goes on, the VIP options do disappear.
And of course, you just can’t go to a Fonthill Castle Beer Fest without trying out some Pierre’s Chocolates, this year collaborating with Alchemist Beer on a Ganache Alchemist Heady Topper Ecuador Milk & Dark Chocolate and Neshaminy Creek with an Imperial Chocolate Mudbank Milk Stout Truffle. Both were phenomenal, as expected.
You don’t have to come as VIP to be able to try some excellent food options, though. THE Catering Company was on hand serving hits like fresh tomato pies or piping hot pulled pork sandwiches for everybody that attended. Fonthill Castle even had their Oktoberfest-style soft pretzel girl making rounds, ensuring that everyone was well-fed.
I quickly threw together a highlight reel as well, get a taste of the event right from home (Please note: everything in the video is much tastier in person). I am no expert at videography (obviously) – but now that I have some decent equipment, I just need the practice.
Favorite Craft Beers
Komo Sutra by Red Lion Brewery
Komo Sutra is a New England-style IPA brewed using Citra and Rakau hops, fermented with their own special blend of ale yeast. As described, it definitely brings to mind orange sherbet, fresh-sliced pear, and lemon meringue pie.
Nights in Pale Satin by Red Lion Brewery
I know, I know, two beers from one brewery in a single event recap? It has no precedent, but it is happening right now.
When Red Lion Brewery’s beer offerings were tapped (popularity has it’s drawbacks) – instead of just giving up, they had someone from the brewery bring over their new beer, Nights in Pale Satin, which definitely deserves a mention as well. Another beautiful beer from Red Lion, incredibly drinkable at 5%.
“5.0% abv American Pale Ale brewed with oats, Munich malts, then hopped with Cascade and Cashmere hops. Reminiscent of fresh grapefruit, tangelos, sourdough bread, and cherry skin. On tap exclusively at McCoole’s at the Historic Red Lion Inn.”
#Adulting by Evil Genius Brewing Company
I was going to walk right past, being that I’ve had #Adulting many times before, previously highlighted it at other festivals (Valley Forge Beer Festival; Suds & Stogies: Battleship New Jersey) and try to keep it stocked in my fridge whenever possible, but I just couldn’t walk past without a glass. I’ll just keep it short and include a blurb from the brewery:
“Pale and crystal malts marry perfectly with Citra & Cascade hops, creating an easy drinking, creamy, medium-bodied, clean, smooth IPA. It is then infused with all-natural guava, turning this already delicious IPA into something truly unique. Big, bold hop notes of tropical fruit, watermelon, and lemon, balanced perfectly by a slightly sweet malt backbone and juicy, refreshing guava.”
Beyond the Zero by Forest & Main Brewing
“Beyond The Zero is a 5% IPA brewed with oats and Pilsner malt and hopped with Galaxy and Hallertau Blanc. This beer tells us that it’s okay to crave Galaxy gummy bears while soaking in your nectarine bath and sipping on apricot purée with vanilla beans atop your eyeballs while a smoldering bit of hidden plot weed perfumes the room from the soap dish.” -Forest & Main
Loads of white wine-inspired melon, apricot, and gooseberry flavors. Incredibly full-flavored for such a light-bodied beer. Very minimal bitterness, and the sweetness is never excessive. Just an exceptional brew from Forest & Main.
Most Intriguing Beers
This is a newer category for my event coverage. If I post an “intriguing beer,” it’s not necessarily that I personally like it, but I feel a need to highlight some beers that are much different from my usual choices. I may not necessarily like them personally, but I definitely recognize their quality and ingenuity.
DunkleShaun by Great Barn Brewery
Great Barn has always been a standout brewery, I’ve come across them at numerous festivals, and am a big fan. I always love that they don’t send out some fresh-faced marketing rep, it’s always someone that is a major part of the brewery, usually one of the owners themselves.
This time around, they sent their head brewer Casey Cramer to meet with the festival goers. At first I was disappointed my favorite beer was not available (Where the Delaware Am I? IPA), but as he explained:
“Every brewery brings out the IPAs for festivals. I was able to pick out the beers we brought down, so I wanted some variety, to give everyone that doesn’t like IPAs some more selection, and let those die-hard IPA fans try something new.”
The beer that stood out the most to me was the DunkleShaun. I’m also a big fan of Shaun of the Dead, so this seemed like the right beer to try. This is a dunkel weizen, another term used to refer to German dark wheat beers, which are fruity and sweet with more dark, roasted malts than their lighter counterpart, the hefeweizen.
This beer tastes remarkably similar to some creamy chocolate and peanut butter swirl ice cream. It’s wonderful in the nose, an interesting brew with big flavor. This may not have been my personal favorite from the evening, but it was certainly the most interesting beer I tried.
Triobla Sciuro by Mad Princes Brewing
Mad Princes Brewing of Doylestown, PA, named in honor of the mad King Ludwig of Bavaria, brought out this beast of a beer for the event.
Belgian Tripels are definitely a bit out of my wheelhouse, but this one, even though it was packing quite a punch at 9.7% ABV, went down smooth. Bready, sweet, medium-bodied and a pleasant alcohol warmth in the finish.