Crafty Endeavor

Fordham & Dominion Brewing’s fifth annual R2Hop2 set for April 23

Live music, games, regional vendors, food, craft beers on tap: Those are just a few of the attractions as Fordham & Dominion Brewing Co. hosts its fifth annual R2Hop2 Beer and Music Festival on Saturday, April 23, from noon-5 p.m.

More than 40 vendors will fill the Dover microbrewer’s sprawling grounds at 1284 McD Drive, offering fresh food and beer, face painting and even haircuts for the kids.
Live music will be provided by Delmarva-based bands Pasadena, Barrelhouse and Casey Alvarez.

According to Ryan Telle, Fordham & Dominion’s VP of marketing and lead graphic designer, the goal for this year is to make the festival as interactive as possible.

“In addition to guests being able to move from vendor to vendor, there’s gonna be things to partake in—the keg toss, or photo booth, Jenga, corn hole, face-painting, and the bounce house,” he says.

The festival will have a strong Delaware flavor, with more than 90 percent of the vendors coming from in-state.

The festival is named after this brewery equipment, which allegedly looks like R2D2. (Photo courtesy of Fordham & Dominion Brewing Company)
The festival is named after this brewery equipment,
which allegedly looks like R2D2. (Photo courtesy of Fordham & Dominion Brewing Company)

This communal approach has become the root of a number of elements featured in this year’s festival, including a collaboration with Painted Stave Distilling of Smyrna on a dry hopped whiskey. Over the last eight months, the two companies have worked closely together to bring this whiskey into fruition and will release it at the festival via an interactive Painted Stave booth.

“They’ll have their own booth serving the whiskey, in addition to a booth where people can drink the beer by itself, then the beer in the barrel that the whiskey was made in, then the whiskey itself,” Telle says.

The same mechanism that makes this whiskey, as well as the entire Fordham & Dominion portfolio, has also inspired the name R2Hop2.

“It’s this piece of equipment that we use on a regular basis to dry hop our beer, and it kind of looks like R2D2,” Telle says. “He’s a full functioning employee, if you will.”

Since 2012, the R2Hop2 Beer and Music Festival has grown every year, with more vendors added to its roster as well as unique features like the antique fire truck that will be parked at the brewery—complete with draft pumps on the side of it that pour beer.

The history of the brewery itself extends back to 1989, when Old Dominion Brewing Co. was founded by Jerry Bailey in Ashburn, Va. Old Dominion was eventually purchased by the longstanding Fordham Brewing Co. in 2007, which was founded in 1703 by Benjamin Fordham and rebranded in 1995 in Annapolis.

By 2009, the two breweries merged under the title Coastal Brewing Company and moved to the current headquarters in Dover.

Since then, the two brands have been brewed and bottled under the same roof while still maintaining their distinct characteristics.

Dominion's Oak Barrel Stout. (Photo courtesy of Fordham & Dominion Brewing Company)
Dominion’s Oak Barrel Stout. (Photo courtesy of Fordham & Dominion Brewing Company)

“Fordham is that sessionable, easy-drinking beer for that craft beer drinker who’s on the cusp,” Telle says. “They’ll drink a major brewery brand, but they can also gravitate over to that Fordham portfolio. Whereas Dominion is for more of that experienced craft beer drinker—those high-alcohol beers, those double IPAs, those Belgian tripels. It kind of pleases all beer drinkers’ palates.”

Ten years later, Fordham & Dominion Brewery has become a prominent name in the craft beer industry, producing more than 15 beers and distributing to more than seven states as well as to the United Kingdom.

“We’ve always believed in being a mile deep and an inch wide. Having more of a monumental impact in our own and also neighboring areas means the most to us and for our future,” says Fordham and Dominion Marketing Coordinator Joe Gilmore.

According to Telle, the R2Hop2 Beer and Music Festival is intended to emphasize the importance of community as an integral element of the brewery.

“The idea is to make quality beer on top of making friends,” he says. “Whatever you can do to make an impact.”

General admission for the festival is $25 and includes four beer samples, a commemorative glass and unlimited soda. Designated driver tickets are also available for $20 and include unlimited soda as well. VIP tickets are sold out.