On Saturday, August 14, 2021, Mercer Museum and Fonthill Castle hosted their annual end-of-summer Beer Fest fundraising event on the grounds of Fonthill Castle, the home of the archaeologist and tile maker Henry Chapman Mercer.

Built between 1908 and 1912, it is an early example of poured-in-place concrete and features 44 rooms, over 200 windows, 18 fireplaces, 10 bathrooms and one powder room.

The castle is filled with an extensive collection of ceramics embedded in the concrete of the house, as well as other artifacts from his world travels, including cuneiform tablets discovered in Mesopotamia dating back to over 2300 BCE.

The home also contains around 1,000 prints from Mercer’s extensive collection, as well as over six thousand books, almost all of which were annotated by Mercer himself.

Many of these tiles are inset into Fonthill’s walls and ceilings. Photo Credit: mercermuseum.org

Throughout the year, Fonthill Castle and the Bucks County Historical Society host a wide range of wonderful events like the Winter Wonderland Tours, Shakespeare in the Park, Candlelight Holiday Tours, Tower Tours for Families, Mercer’s Night Tales, Behind the Scenes Tours, Escape Rooms, and much more.

Can you escape from Fonthill Castle? Photo Credit: visitbuckscounty.com / mercermuseum.org

The Fun

I know why you are here. The beer festival itself. It really seems that people are desperate for public group activities. It is no surprise that once again like years past tickets completely sold out.

The VIP hour was wonderful as always – it is always worth the extra cost to have the nice and easy hour with no lines, time to talk to brewers, and in the days of COVID variants, some peace of mind with personal space to spare.

Unlike other events, even the regular admission never felt overly crowded, as the team at Mercer Museum and Fonthill Castle did an excellent job of spreading the event out more than previous years in person.

I always enjoy this festival because it’s mostly people who appreciate the beer, rather than hordes of college kids looking for an excuse and means of getting drunk. This event always feels more like a refined garden party in comparison.

The Food

With catering by Chambers 19, Fonthill Castle Beer Fest always stands out from the rest. No cheap concessions stand, hot dog water, or stale pretzels.

Chambers 19 Catering

Chambers 19 had one heck of a spread for guests, with New England-style meatballs, buffalo chicken dip, spinach artichoke dip, sausage peppers and onions brought worst, beer braised dogs with roasted cabbage, cheese boards, goat cheese mousse with cranberry chutney, Rueben dip, and pulled pork.

As an added treat for VIP guests, Chambers 19 prepared a delicious goat cheese mousse crostini with homemade chutneys, mexican street corn, and spinach artichoke dip. My personal favorites had to be the pulled pork with (admittedly several) portions of the mexican street corn (so good).

Pierre’s Chocolates

Every year these are a favorite at the Fonthill Castle Beer Festival, where Pierre’s will take local craft beer and make delectable chocolates from it. Both were to die for. Your brain melts as they melt in your mouth.

The first one was the a New Hop IPA Truffle, a Milk and Dark chocolate ganache infused with hop HBC-586 & Odd Bird Brewing‘s New Hop IPA. The second (my favorite), was the Ralphius Stout & Marshmallow bon-bon, which was dark chocolate ganache infused with Free Will Brewing Company‘s Ralphius Stout and layered with marshmallow fluff.

For the past 30 years, Pierre’s Chocolates has been dedicated to crafting the most exceptional handmade chocolates in Bucks County from their full service retail chocolate store in New Hope, PA. Always worth the trip.

The Beer

dS/dT by Equilibrium Brewery

Pouring a hazy yellow-orange, soft head that fades down to a modest cap with good lacing. Juicy and dank, with citrus and tropical fruits alongside the grassy notes in the nose. The taste follows the nose, juicy and dank, with hits of pine and spruce, a soft bitterness. Medium bodied and pillowy, well carbonated. Overall, another spectacular offering from Equilibrium Brewery.

Lion Festivus by Red Lion Brewery

Joseph Winiarski, brewer at Red Lion Brewery, is always getting me to try different beer styles with a new perspective. If you take a look at my past reviews, you’ll see a definite pattern, I lean hard on the IPA.

Don’t get me wrong, their Flying Whales IPA with Citra, Galaxy, and Nelson hops was awesome, but I feel I had to mention the Lion Festivus, poured at Fonthill on a side-pull tap.

Side-pull (also called “side-pour”) faucets are relatively unknown outside of the most devoted beer aficionados and brewers. These taps are built around a ball valve, instead of a “plunger” valve.

A small screen inside the side-pull faucet helps to create foam. You read that right, sometimes we want more foam. MOAR FOAM!

I had what is known as a milk pour, a glass filled with wet foam, with just a bit of beer at the bottom. This creamy pour looks like milk and tastes sweet and smooth.

The Lion Festivus brew from Red Lion Brewery was great, full-bodied and malty with notes of toasted bread and wildflower honey, a kiss of German hops, and when delivered in such a smooth way… it was a wonderful break from my bitter IPA fixation.

After trying it, I am sold on the side pour. You need to seek out a brewery that has one. Luckily, there is a brand new brewery opening in Perkasie, PA where they will have a side-pull tap available for their stellar beer options.

With Joe at the helm of the brewing operations, you definitely need to keep an eye out for Mystic Ways Brewing Company. We’ll be sure to let you know when they are open, because we will be there ourselves.

Chuicy Chowie Wowie by Bucks County Brewing

Big apologies to Bucks County Brewing for the horrible photo of this awesome beer. Oof. I must have smelled it and just rushed the photo. This is a New England style IPA with Citra and Mosaic hops.

Cloudy yellow-orange with a citrus scent. The grapefruits, papayas, tangerines, and other tropical fruits assault the senses in a glorious battlefield of flavor, with a swift kick from the hops making sure you remember what you are drinking, as well as a hit of dank on the back end. Full-bodied with just the right amount of carbonation. Very well constructed.

You’re A Wizard, Harry by Newtown Brewing Company

Same as the last beer, I feel like I had both of them at the end of the event, and the photo does not do them justice, but I didn’t want to leave it out just for that silly reason. This was another juicy, hazy double IPA, but really set apart from the others I had that evening with the addition of vanilla and blueberry notes alongside the tropical fruits.

I really want to try more with this new experimental hop Lotus, because I really think that’s what gives this beer its really stand-out flavor profile. More tasting is surely needed… for science, of course.

Honorable Mentions

I mean, it’s not like breweries bring out their bad beer for these events. There were so many great beers, it feels mean not to at least mention them all, even if this post is rapidly becoming a Dickens novel.

Local Bucks County Breweries:

National / International Heavy Hitters:

Photo Gallery

Andrij Harasewych
Editor at The Craft Beer Diaries. Devoted husband and father. Excessively geeky. Comic books, video games, and craft beer are my vices. Favorite beer style easily the IPA. Growing love for the DIPA, specifically.
Andrij Harasewych
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