Every year, Kennett Winterfest brings over 60 of the finest local and regional breweries to Kennett Square. These brewers serve an enthusiastic community of craft beer lovers who want to enjoy fantastic beer and support a great cause.
Craft brewers are some of the most creative and hard-working people around—and while their beer stands on its own merits, knowing the story behind a brewery somehow makes their product taste even better. Wilmington Brew Works, winner of the 2022 Kennett Brewfest Best of Connoisseur award, is a community-focused brewery excited to bring their best to Winterfest on February 25th.
John Fusco, Wilmington Brew Works’ VP of Marketing & Brand Management, was first introduced to craft beer when he attended the 2006 Kennett Brewfest with friends. “I’ve always loved the Kennett Brewfest,” he says. “It’s the most well-run event and has the best attendees—people who are enthusiastic about beer, willing to try new things, and there to enjoy the great variety of beer from around the region and the country. We also get to see all the brewers we know and love and respect. In 2017, when CEO and brewer Craig Wensell asked me to be part of the team he was forming to launch Wilmington Brew Works, one of the first things on my radar was to return to Kennett Brewfest.”
This goal came full circle at the 25th anniversary Brewfest last fall, when Wilmington Brew Works took home the coveted Best of Connoisseur award. As the winner, Wilmington Brew Works will bring a selection of unique beers to serve at the sold-out pre-festival DefConn session. But regular session ticket holders will also be able to sample a delectable range of beers from the award-winning brewery.
“We usually bring one of our award-winning milkshake sours to brewfests, along with one of our northeast IPAs,” Fusco says, and the DefConn session will allow them to expand their offerings to include an imperial chocolate stout called Harmonic Oscillation as well as a triple IPA, a barrel aged sour, and a Doppelbock—a traditional Lenten beer brewed by monks to sustain them through lengthy fasts.
Wilmington Brew Works, which will celebrate its fifth birthday this summer, did some creative pivoting during the pandemic to online sales and continuing to broaden their distribution. Just this week, the team has finally been able to bring their original vision for their family-friendly taproom back to life. “We’ve created a German-style beer hall atmosphere,” Fusco says. “You can walk in, sit down, scan a QR code to order, and have your beer or cider brought to your table. We want to be a local community hub with that communal, public house feel—to be a place to meet friends both old and new.” The taproom also hosts comedy shows and has a private room available for all sorts of gatherings, from baby showers to retirement celebrations.
The Wilmington Brew Works team, which also includes CFO and COO Keith Hughes as well as Dan Yopp and Derek Berkeley, loves being part of the Wilmington brewing community. They’re actively involved in fostering unique partnerships and have created a number of custom label beers that support local businesses as well as organizations like The Queen, the Wilmington Blue Rocks, and the Delaware Blue Coats. “We also work closely with the Hagley Museum and Library,” Fusco says. “We pick fruit in their orchard, which we press and use in our ciders. We recently found a nineteenth-century molasses porter recipe in their archival documents and are excited to recreate it.” Fusco and the team look forward to welcoming old friends and new to the taproom—and to serving their award-winning beer to Kennett Winterfest attendees.
The Kennett Winterfest is always a sell-out event, and Kennett Collaborative organizers urge beer lovers to purchase tickets before it’s too late. The beloved winter-warming festival centers on craft beer and community, but it’s also about supporting year-round programs and events in Kennett Square.
“Winterfest brings warmth and fun to the middle of winter with craft beer and good friends and neighbors,” says Kennett Collaborative Executive Director Daniel Embree. But it’s also a good time for a good cause. “Purchasing a ticket to Winterfest is also a great way to support a thriving Kennett throughout the year. Winterfest proceeds help to fund your favorite Kennett Collaborative initiatives—from summer flowers around town to holiday lights and winter greenery.”
In addition to fantastic beer from over 60 breweries, Winterfest 2023 will feature live music, food trucks, and plenty of warm community spirit. Find tickets here. Businesses interested in sponsorship opportunities can find out more here.
In the photo above, by Dylan Francis, Dan Yopp and Derek Berkeley of Wilmington Brew Works pose with the coveted 2022 Kennett Brewfest Best of Connoisseur award.