Summer Happy Hour at Delaware Art Museum

Every Thursday from 5 to 7 p.m. until Sept. 14, the Delaware Art Museum will host an evening happy hour on the Museum’s back terrace or in the Thronson Café (weather permitting). Food and drink options will be provided by Toscana. Guests are encouraged to tour the museum’s many exhibits before or after the happy hour or enjoy live music provided by local musician Seth Tillman on July 6 and 13. On July 27, the museum will have a Happy Hour Game Night with a variety of outdoor games, including cornhole and Jenga. The DAM is located at 2301 Kentmere Parkway in Wilmington.

For more information on the Summer Happy Hours and upcoming events, check visit delart.org/programs-events/calendar/.

FranksWine Celebrates 30 Years

Golden Wine Event

FranksWine, at 1206 N. Union St. in Wilmington, is celebrating 30 years in 2017. And that’s not all. This month, FranksWine is hosting a fundraiser—a pop-up Golden Wine Event on Saturday, Feb. 11.

After a five-year break, the event is back at Harry’s Savoy Ballroom at 2020 Naamans Rd. Twenty vendors will be pouring wine that comes from various regions, and guests are invited to meander from station to station—which include craft beer from four local brewers. Overall, the drink menu comprises 80 wines and 16 craft brew selections.

Tickets are $100, and $25 of each ticket and 100 percent of the proceeds from the FranksWine Big Bottle Silent Auction will be donated to Kids Runway for Research, which raises awareness and support for The Nemours Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders.

The event runs from 6:30-9:30 p.m. Get tickets at frankswine.com.

 

Sips

Here’s what’s pouring

Golden Wine Event

FranksWine, at 1206 N. Union St. in Wilmington, is celebrating 30 years in 2017. And that’s not all. This month, FranksWine is hosting a fundraiser—a pop-up Golden Wine Event on Saturday, Feb. 11.

After a five-year break, the event is back at Harry’s Savoy Ballroom at 2020 Naamans Rd. Twenty vendors will be pouring wine that comes from various regions, and guests are invited to meander from station to station—which include craft beer from four local brewers. Overall, the drink menu comprises 80 wines and 16 craft brew selections.

Tickets are $100, and $25 of each ticket and 100 percent of the proceeds from the FranksWine Big Bottle Silent Auction will be donated to Kids Runway for Research, which raises awareness and support for The Nemours Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders.

The event runs from 6:30-9:30 p.m. Get tickets at frankswine.com.

Bob’s 1st Ale is Back

From now through March 30, the South Burlington, Vt. Magic Hat Brewing Company’s Bob’s 1st Ale—the brewery’s inaugural 1994 ale, originally dubbed Magic Hat Ale—is back. Magic Hat has moved away from its seasonal brews, which the ale was originally among, and is introducing the Limited Run series, offering beers from its vault that have been fan and staff favorites over the years. The rotation of the series will have a two-month window for each—totaling five brews for this year. An Irish-style, deep ruby red ale at 4.6 percent ABV, Bob’s 1st is fermented with the brewery’s 150-year-old strain of top-fermenting English yeast. Find the brew at local liquor stores.

dogfish-head-flesh-blood-ipa-canned1Dogfish Head Canned Flesh & Blood IPA

Brewed with a ratio of fruit, freshly-squeezed juice, and Northwest citrusy-hop varieties, Flesh & Blood India Pale Ale—Dogfish Head’s newest year-round brew—is now available at local liquor stores. Clocking in at 7.5 percent ABV and 45 IBUs, and exclusively available in six-pack cans, Flesh & Blood is crafted with orange peel, lemon flesh and an aromatic blood orange juice, resulting in a balanced and zesty ale.

Dogfish remains consistent in its use of all-natural culinary products in which consumers can easily identify the whole ingredient and trust in the freshness of fruits and vegetables, and thoughtfully sourced spices.

“Because we derive flavors and aromas from actual fruits you would recognize at your local farmers market and not jugs or buckets of flavoring created in a laboratory, you will not see statements like ‘brewed with natural flavors’ or ‘natural flavors added’ on our labels,” says Sam Calagione, Dogfish Head founder and CEO.

Flesh & Blood represents more than 21 years of commitment to tweaking and perfecting the fruit IPA style. Dogfish Head is a leading pioneer in this arena; it was the first American brewery to package and ship fruit IPAs nationally.

“We’ve been experimenting with fruit and citrus IPAs since 1996 when we released Aprihop, an IPA brewed with apricots,” Calagione says. “We think the fruit IPA category will surge the fastest in 2017 and we are proud of Dogfish Head’s innovator position in this realm.” To find Flesh & Blood IPA, visit dogfish.com/brewery/fishfinder.

Back by Popular Demand

After a three-year hiatus, Dover brewery Dominion has brought back its Millennium Ale. This Barley Wine Style Ale uses the original recipe first brewed in Ashburn, Va., to commemorate its 1,000th batch of beer.

This full-bodied English/American style barley wine comes in at 10.5 percent ABV. Millennium is brewed with Pale and Crystal Malts, Perle, Hallertau, Mt. Hood and EKG hops, and pure Virginia honey. The limited 100-barrel release is a labor of love that takes 24 hours of non-stop brewing before spending 15 weeks in the fermenter. Dominion Millennium Ale paired with sharp cheeses or a variety of desserts promises to be an ally in the cold winter months.

Says Head Brewer Daniel Louder: “This beer’s complexity, nostalgia and demand makes it something special and a pleasure to brew. Beer drinkers that have had it will be pleased that it’s available again, and ones that haven’t tried it will not be disappointed.”

Dominion Millennium Ale was released last month and is available in six-packs and on draught at local liquor stores.

Fresh Pours

New Belgium Brewing is on a roll. Four new year-round beers are now available from the Fort Collins, Colo., brewery, which is tweaking some other brews, too.

Fresh out of the gate are Dayblazer Easygoing Ale, Citradelic Exotic Lime Ale, Tartastic Lemon Ginger Sour and Voodoo Ranger 8 Hop Ale. A new line of hoppy beers under the Voodoo Ranger trademark is also being introduced, while Blue Paddle Pilsener paves the way for New Belgium Bohemian Pilsener. To make room for all these new flavors, Snapshot Wheat, Slow Ride Session IPA and Shift Pale Lager will roll off into the sunset (at least for now). In a purely cosmetic tweak, Sunshine Wheat will be newly adorned with a Colorado state flag to signify its roots.

“This is our most ambitious portfolio reimagining since our beginnings,” says New Belgium Brewing spokesperson Bryan Simpson. “We’ve got a lot of excitement, momentum and energy and that makes for a bounty of great beers with interesting twists—2017 is shaping up to be an awesome year for drinking beer.”

Pucker Up

Sour beers are a growing presence on the brewing landscape

Lore has it that thousands of years ago, when humans first discovered that hops, grain and water combined to create beer, all the resulting beverages featured a taste profile that we would describe as sour.

Blame the microorganisms that linger around us—then and now. Bacteria and naturally occurring yeasts were in the air, water and dust, and especially in the open vessels often used to craft the early brews. They settled freely in the wort (the grain and water mixture that forms the beginnings of beer) and thrived.

Once Louis Pasteur demonstrated how to rid food and prep equipment of unwanted microorganisms using his namesake process and simple sterilization, brewers learned the importance of making sure the final product was free of unwanted microbial visitors. Open wooden vessels gave way to closed, easily cleaned copper kettles and eventually, stainless steel vats. Paired with high-temperature cleaning, the simple changes all but eliminated the potential of unwanted critters infesting a batch of beer.

The disappearance of sour beers from the American landscape also had a good bit to do with changes in approaches to food storage, as well as a healthy dose of big-business marketing, says Craig Wensell, CEO and co-owner of Bellefonte Brewing Co. in Wilmington.

“Brewing in America has been in an awakening almost since Prohibition. Everything changed after that period of self-isolation. Sour beers almost immediately made a comeback right after that,” he says. “But along with the whole concept of canned foods and long-term shelf-stable products, there was an attempt to run the old-style beers off. Either that or they just faded away.”

Bellefonte Brewing Co.'s sour Belgian quadruple, Sour Claymonster, fermenting. It’s available at the brewery this month. Photo Anthony Santoro
Bellefonte Brewing Co.’s sour Belgian quadruple, Sour Claymonster, fermenting. It’s available at the brewery this month. Photo Anthony Santoro

Because nothing is as alluring as the forbidden or unattainable, modern brewers began to plumb history for those funky flavors lost through modern cleanliness. However skeevy it might sound, in pursuit of this primordial flavor born from higher acidity, modern beer makers began intentionally infecting their brews with several types of bacteria and wild yeasts, all designed to add a little something to bring about that new/old sour flavor only the wonkiest beer enthusiasts and culinary anthropologist even knew we were missing.

The master brewers of Belgium were the first in recent history to bring these flavors back to commercially produced brews, going back to the old open koelschip—the Germanic name for what Americans refer to as the coolship, or an open vessel used to cool wort. This allowed “wild” yeasts and bacteria to settle into the mix before it moved to the brewing process.

They began offering up their intentionally inoculated and fermented sour ales known as lambics, as well as lambic blends (known as gueuzes) and Flanders ales. Others not of Belgian provenance included Berliner weisse and gose, both from Germany. Goosed with naturally occurring flora in the wort stage, the finished brews were often aged in used wine barrels, where other lingering bacteria and the remnants of each vintage would boost the flavor profile further.

Properly prepared, these beers can range from light and fruity to verging on the complexity of a fine, dry red wine and lend themselves to a variety of food pairings. In fact, Wensell says that among traditional craft brew drinkers who lean toward a hoppy flavor, sours can often fall flat. But with wine drinkers who often claim to not like beer, sours are frequently a hit.

“The mouth feel of the product is going to be the same as wine, so I use that as my reference point for people who say, “I don’t really like beer,’” he says. “Ten to 15 times over the course of every weekend we see the beer person turn up their nose and someone who doesn’t like beer will go to the sours. It can really take people 180 degrees out of where they thought they were.”

Bellefonte Brewing Co.'s Funk n' Pineapple. Photo Anthony Santoro
Bellefonte Brewing Co.’s Funk n’ Pineapple. Photo Anthony Santoro

Done wrong, the taste of a sour beer can skew toward the unpleasantly earthy or even, um … poopy. Because of their brewing process, even when done well, consistency isn’t the hallmark of sour beers. If you find a brand you like and stick with it, you can still expect flavor variations from batch to batch, Wensell says.

“Sours are kind of hit and miss, but they’re becoming more ‘hit.’ In my drinking experience, I’ve been punished by a number of sours,” he notes. “It’s been kind of an adventure in discovery. It doesn’t always go your way, but it’s always entertaining.”

Sours available at Bellefonte this month will be the Sour Claymonster, a sour Belgian quadruple (or “quad” – essentially an extra-strong Trappist-style ale) with flavors of tart cherry and caramel; a mixed fermentation with Brettanomyces bruxellensis (“Brett brux”) and Saccharomyces Trois (“Sacc. Trois”) yeasts that Wensell describes as “a big, bright. pineapple bomb”; Bellefonte’s second batch of Solera #1, a complex sour with a wine-like flavor that, with carbonation, comes off like a prosecco; and a bright and complex full Brett fermentation that features strong flavors of sour peach and mango. Wensell says he also likes to keep at least two sours on tap throughout the year, usually a blueberry and raspberry.

Searching your favorite beer shop for something to take home? Here are a few top-rated bottles to try:

Dogfish Head's SeaQuench Ale. Photo courtesy of Dogfish Head Brewery
Dogfish Head’s SeaQuench Ale. Photo courtesy of Dogfish Head Brewery

Dogfish Head SeaQuench Ale – The only blend on the list happens to also be one from the locals at Dogfish Head Brewery in Rehoboth Beach. This session hazy golden sour combines three separate brews—a traditional German-style Kolsch wheat beer; a gose with hints of sea salt, coriander and black lime; and a Berliner weisse flavored with lime and lime peel. All three are aged together to produce a thirst-quenching drink that’s tart and citrusy up front with a hint of salt and a malty sweet finish. It pairs well with steamed mussels, grilled chicken and raw oysters for the main dish, or a bit of chevre during your cheese course. As a seasonal release, SeaQuench won’t be back around until the summer.

otravez-bottle-pint2016Sierra Nevada Otra Vez Gose-Style Ale – Flavored with prickly pear cactus fruit, coriander and grapefruit, this brew from the Chico, Calif.-based brewery offers a tangy bitterness reminiscent of watermelon that goes well with spicy main dishes, goat cheeses and citrusy desserts. Its 4.5 percent ABV makes it a refreshing, smooth-drinking selection.

Russian River Consecration – A dark reddish-brown brew, Consecration gets much of its color from being aged in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels acquired from wineries local to the Santa Rosa, Calif., brewery, and from being spiked with black currant prior to the four- to eight-month aging process. What emerges is ale with a sour punch. Undertones of the wine remain, complementing top notes of currant, chocolate truffle, tobacco and spice. Its 10 percent ABV is as foreboding as its dark color, so take your time enjoying this one.

Weyerbacher Brewing Tarte Nouveau Session Sour – This light, refreshing and mildly sour offering originally began as an experiment by the Easton, Pa., brewery to see if it was possible to create a sour beer that wouldn’t contaminate the rest of its drafting and packing equipment. What first emerged as their limited-edition Zulu label has now morphed into this tart, pale-yellow ale that offers an easily drinkable 3.9 percent ABV and a dry, smooth finish. The subtle presence of cherries helps this beer pair well with light seafood dishes like ceviche and the earthier tastes of a beet and goat cheese salad. Be patient, though. This sought-after seasonal won’t be back again until spring.

Sips – Jan. 2017

Here’s what’s pouring

2SP Brewing Releases Third Canned Beer

In December, 2SP Brewing Company released Bellcracker Double IPA in cans. This is the Aston, Pa., brewery’s third canned beer, following the successful Delco Lager and ASAP IPA.

According to director of sales and marketing Mike Contreras, Bellcracker is one of the company’s biggest beers.

“We love it at the brewery, but we have to be careful with it, because, well, it’s dangerously smooth and easy to drink at 8.7 percent,” says Contreras.

The feedback on the beer has been excellent, he says, and retailers—like Branmar Liquors, Kreston and Peco’s— have already put in re-stock orders.

“For those who haven’t tried it, this double IPA has Amarillo hops that give it a big tropical hop flavor. The beer is balanced by a solid malt bill, so it won’t wreck your pallet with hops, and there is no burn from the high alcohol,” says Contreras.

Visit 2spbrewing.com for more.

Delaware Art Museum Happy Hour

On Thursday, Jan. 19, join Delaware Art Museum’s Executive Director and CEO Sam Sweet for casual conversation and free drinks in the museum’s on-site Thronson Café.

Sweet, who is new to the Delaware community, will hear guests’ thoughts about the museum while also getting tips on local events, restaurants, and hidden Delaware treasures. Beer, wine and light snacks will be provided. The event is set for 5-7 p.m.

Olde School Barleywine Is Back

This month, Dogfish Head is bringing back one of the brewery’s most requested beers of 2016—the Olde School Barleywine. Currently scoring a 98 percent rating on RateBeer.com and an 88 on Beer Advocate, the brew, fermented with dates and figs, is sweet and fruity. Brewery founder Sam Calagione came up with the beer’s concept in 2002 after discovering an old cellerman’s manual.

At about 15 percent ABV, this beer is a great candidate for aging. Over time, it dries out, the pit fruit flavors come forward and the hops recede. Pairing it with blue cheese and honey is recommended.
For brew availability, check dogfish.com.

Movies On Tap Keeps On Going — and Giving

Since last April, the monthly Movies On Tap series at Penn Cinema, in partnership with Premier Wine & Spirits, has raised $12,720 for local charities, including Food Bank of Delaware, Delaware KIDS Fund, Read Aloud Delaware, Meals on Wheels, Food Bank of Delaware (twice), Preston’s Playground, Good Old Boy Foundation and Delaware Nature Society.

The event is one of the most interactive beer tasting experiences around. Each month, a different local brewery sends its brewers to talk with guests, who sample beers and catch a cult-classic flick on the big screen. Ticket sales go to charities like those mentioned above.

Next up is Bellefonte Brewing Company and The Princess Bride on Friday, Jan. 27, at 6:30 p.m. The charity of choice is TBA.

A full event schedule will be announced in February.

Says Premier director of marketing Ryan Kennedy: “The best part of this series is that it supports our local community. Bringing beer and movie fans together to support the community we live, work and play in is the main reason we do this, but knowing 99 percent of ticket sales go to a worthy cause is the icing on the cake for us. It’s been a great experience and 2017 is going to be packed with incredible breweries and movies.”

Visit premierwinespirits.com for more information.

Food Trends, 2017

Pokes, boar meat and breakfast all day long: Once again, our fearless prognosticator offers his thoughts on what we’ll be eating in the new year.

Wellness tonics. Purple cauliflower. Coconut chips. Beet noodles.

That’s what you have to look forward to if Whole Foods is right and these are the hottest trends of 2017. And that’s why you need to care about food trends, lest you be caught unawares by a sudden beet noodle in your entrée.

You will find no beet noodles here. This is my third year of making predictions for the future of Delaware food, and one thing I’ve learned—I’m not very good at it. (Check the scorecard below.) While I thought 2016 would find a distillery opening in northern Delaware, I missed the brewery boom that was fermenting all around us. And though I saw sushi cooling off, I didn’t notice Newark becoming a hotbed for truly authentic Chinese cuisine.

But those are the risks foodie prognosticators take. There’s no accounting for taste, and even less accounting for what taste buds will crave from year to year. And so I rounded up a few of my usual suspects, did my research, and herewith offer another few predictions for the new year, in full knowledge that life will likely prove me wrong. Again. Happy dining.

Trend: Restaurants enter the bowl game

There’s a reason bowls are the serving vessel of choice at fast-casual restaurants. They’re quick to assemble, can contain both liquid and solid ingredients, and since they don’t require slabs of bread to hold the good stuff together, they’re easy to make low-carb or gluten-free. But while fast-casual trends often filter down from fine-dining experiences, expect bowls to be one idea that trickles up.

“I think that a growing theme is losing the pretense in a lot of things,” says Chef Robbie Jester from Stone Balloon Ale House. “When you get into tuna tartars and tuna carpaccio, they all sound really fancy. But when you shorten that to a four-letter word, I think that’s approachable.”

That four-letter word? “Poke,” as in Hawaiian for “slice,” and no relation to 2016’s least palatable smartphone trend. Jester serves his ahi tuna and avocado poke in ginger sambal sesame sauce with toasted sesame seeds in a bowl. Since he introduced it, it’s been (in his words) “supremely popular.”
“You can mix it with different ingredients, since it’s a larger cut,” Jester says. “I just think it’s a better preparation, and I enjoy eating it. And I think it’s going to continue to catch on until people beat the shit out of it on the East Coast.”

Prediction #1: Pokes pop up on appetizer lists around the state (gotta eat them all!), and bowls don’t stop there. Watch for authentic Asian flavors in a bowl near you.

Trend: Third-wave coffee washes over Delaware

What, you missed the first two waves? Then you haven’t been staring at the coffee horizon as deeply as the coffee nerds who have transformed caffeine consumption on the West Coast. The waves, loosely defined:
First wave: Insta-cofeee. The best part of waking up.
Second wave: The Starbucksization of America.
Third wave (as popularized by San Fran coffee maven Trish Rothgeb): “[In the third wave,] the coffee will make the moment, not the whipped cream or flavored syrup. These baristi will be able to tell you exactly when their coffee was roasted, how the beans were processed, the idea behind the blend, and offer cupping notes.”

The third wave first started to crash over the First State when Drip Café opened its doors and Brew HaHa! expanded its Trolley Square outpost into a coffee roastery. Both were smashing successes. Expect more to come.

Prediction #2: More quality coffee shops, increasingly local coffee production (perhaps another roastery in town?), and potential invasion by national third-wave riders like Stumptown Coffee.

Trend: Breakfast for breakfast, breakfast for lunch, breakfast for dinner

Breakfast for dinner has been a thing since I was a kid, but you can probably blame McDonalds for proving that people dining out will eat breakfast all day, any day, if given the option. Delaware may not have a strong diner culture, but some restaurants will be quick to fill the gap.

“I don’t think that boom is over yet,” says Karen Stauffer, director of communications for the Delaware Restaurant Association. “I see restaurants, especially in bigger areas, expanding to Saturday brunches, with more breakfast-themed items on menus.”

In Newark, brunch hasn’t just expanded to Saturday. It’s already a seven-days-a-week thing at Home Grown Café, where five brunch items are now available daily from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. and the breakfast burrito is one of the top three items at lunch.

“We would get calls daily to ask if we were serving breakfast,” says Sasha Aber, owner at Home Grown. “It’s just nice, comforting food for people to start off the day. And they’re a good price point for people too.”

High-end breakfast food is the main course at Egg Restaurant in Rehoboth Beach and De La Coeur Café et Pâtisserie. Drip Café expanded its restaurant in 2016. Mrs. Snyder’s brought lemon hollandaise to New Castle. Expect all to continue.

Prediction #3: Diners make a comeback. A new one will open, with a commitment to local, freshly sourced ingredients and breakfast all day.

Trend: Fast-fresh-casual takes over the world

Consider this trend a subset of “everything in a bowl,” since that’s where you’ll find most fast-fresh-casual food being served. Also consider it one of the most obvious trends I missed in 2016, with the opening of two Honeygrows (one in North Wilmington, one in Newark), a Zoës Kitchen at the Christiana Fashion Mall, and Roots Natural Kitchen in Newark.

But the fast-fresh-casual trend deserves a category of its own. People certainly want to eat healthy, people increasingly want to eat fresh/local … but people don’t have much time. Those realities used to cancel each other out. Not anymore.

“I think we definitely see more of this coming in 2017, especially in Newark, Wilmington and Dover,” Stauffer said.

Prediction #4: Definitely in Wilmington. If there’s a concept that seems ready-made for Market Street, this is it.

Trend: Wild game gets tamed

Game meats have been popular in Delaware since the first time someone looked at a muskrat and thought, “Hmmm, I could eat that.” But what once was an acquired taste, embraced by a few select spots (like the always-game Stewart’s Brewing Company and the serving-kangaroo-before-its time Matilda’s) is now entering the mainstream. Metro Pub & Grill in Middletown has venison chili and wild boar sloppy joes. Stone Balloon in Newark has a venison Salisbury steak—and expects to add more game to the menu this year. Game meats tend to excite chefs—and they’ll try to excite you.

Prediction #5: It won’t be hard to find wild boar, ostrich and venison on menus in 2017.

Three final trends to watch:
• House-cured meats. (Domaine Hudson has the best charcuterie plate in town; Maiale Deli and Sulumeria continue to impress. Watch for more.)
• Locally produced sour beers.
• Wawa-style touchscreen ordering expanding everywhere.

Last Year’s Predictions Scorecard

1. The End of Tipping: At least one fine dining restaurant in Delaware eliminates tipping in 2016—most likely one at the beach.
Ouch. Not only did the trend to eliminate tipping not come to Delaware, but it seems to have stalled nationally. In fact, the San Francisco restaurant where I first ate under a no-tipping policy brought it back after only five months. If no-tipping is the future, the future is not now.
2. Home Cooking: Increased interest in home cooks entering the sharing economy leads Delaware legislators to loosen cottage food regulations, or they get no pie.
On May 1, 2016, the Division of Public Health published new Cottage Food Regulations that allow for the preparation of a limited type of food products in residential kitchens, pies included. Those regs are now final.
3. Scrapple is the new bacon: The biggest scrapplephobic in your life will venture to try some in 2016.
Only you know what your people think, but Bill Hoffman’s scrapple at The House of William & Merry was a revelation to scrapple-deniers in my life in 2016.
4. More wineries, more breweries … and more distilleries.
One out of three … well, that ain’t good, but at least I have beer to drown my sorrows. Breweries exploded in northern Delaware last year, with the arrival of Dew Point Brewing and Bellefonte Brewing, the re-opening of Twin Lakes, and more. And we got a meadery in Liquid Alchemy. Fenwick Wine Cellars expanded into Salted Vines Vineyard down in Frankford. But still no signs of a distillery up north.
5. Market Street, Dining Destination: Look for a net gain of five places on or near Market Street in 2016.
Let’s see: We added Merchant Bar, Masala Kitchen, Twisted Soul, Starbucks, Market Street Bakery & Cafe and Coffee Mode. Brew HaHa! moved across the street and expanded, but closed the first location, so that’s a net neutral. Still, nailed it!

21 Things to do This Fall

We’ve got your autumnal to-do list covered

The season of corn mazes and pumpkin patches, hayrides and ghost tours is here. Let us help you navigate the options with a few suggestions.

Ride the Castle Trail Along C&D Canal
Between Delaware City and Chesapeake City, Md.
The Branch Canal Trail, which is the section of recreational trail winding through wetlands connecting Delaware City to the Michael Castle Trail, was completed in June after a few years in the making. The approximately 14-mile Castle Trail runs along the canal from Delaware City to Chesapeake City. Just a small portion near Chesapeake City is left to be paved, and should be completed any day. In the meantime, that section is easily cycled on a mountain bike. Closer to Chesapeake City, the trail is varied in terrain with a few challenging hills and wildflower-filled meadows, while it’s a smooth ride in the direction of Delaware City.

Fort Delaware Ghost Tours
Pea Patch Island, Delaware City
Various October dates
destateparks.com/ghost
Join the Diamond State Ghost Investigators and park staff for three-hour (6:30-9:30 p.m.) recreational paranormal investigations each Friday and Saturday this month. Be part of an actual paranormal investigation using electronic magnetic field detectors, data recorders and other techniques. Tickets are $40 per person, but Saturday, Oct. 29, is for hardcore ghost hunters only, from 9:30 p.m.-2:30 a.m. Tickets are $100.

topiaryNightscape at
Longwood Gardens
1001 Longwood Rd., Kennett Square, Pa.
Now-Oct. 29; 8-11 p.m.
longwoodgardens.org
Back after a successful show last year, the light and sound experience by Philadelphia’s Klip Collective is back for nighttime adventure across a magical landscape transformed by light, movement, color and original music. The expansive gardens are a backdrop for new music, new displays and a heightened cohesive experience.

U-Pick at Milburn Orchards
1495 Appleton Rd., Elkton, Md.
Various dates now-Oct. 30
milburnorchards.com
Family-owned and operated since 1902, Milburn Orchards is a local mainstay for families to gather handpicked peaches, cherries, apples, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, grapes, nectarines, plums, and of course, pumpkins. U-Pick Apple, Berry & Grape Adventures are Saturdays and Sundays 10 a.m.-5 p.m. For additional hours see the website.

Corn Maze at Ramsey’s Farm
330 Ramsey Rd., Wilmington
Various dates now-November
ramseysfarm.com
Travel around the world at Ramsey’s Farm’s eight-acre corn maze representing each continent, emphasizing the international importance agriculture. It’s open weekends 10 a.m.-5 p.m. through Nov. 1; for other dates and times, visit the website. Meanwhile, the pumpkin field is 10-12 acres of gourdy bliss, yielding approximately 20,000 pumpkins each season.

Coverdale Farm Preserve Adventures
543 Way Rd., Greenville
Saturdays, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.; additional dates on website
delawarenaturesociety.org
Coverdale Farm Preserve, a working farm that hosts farming, gardening and cooking classes and camps, is a definite autumnal destination. Self- and staff-guided tours, U-Pick fields of flowers, herbs and vegetables, lawn games and more are available. The special theme on Saturday, Oct. 15, is Pumpkin Celebration & Hayrides.

Brandywine Village Riverfest
Brandywine Village, Wilmington
Saturday, Oct. 1; 11 a.m.-6 p.m.
oldbrandywinevillage.org/events
The annual event is a fun-filled community day with music, children’s activities (mad science, tennis in the street, mini golf and more), artists and food vendors.

The Inspire Lot Series
215-219 W. 7th St., between Orange & Tatnall, Wilmington
Friday, Oct. 7; 5:30-8 p.m.
creativedistrictwilm.com
The 7th Street Arts Bridge Inspire Lot Series, held during the First Friday Art Loop, features poet and songwriter King Zimm this month. Also enjoy live music by Gable Music Ventures, assorted food trucks, hands-on art activities and more.

dsc_0907Vendemmia at Bellevue
Bellevue State Park,
800 Carr Rd., Wilmington
Sunday, Oct. 9; 2-6 p.m.
societadavinci.org
The region’s biggest celebration of the Italian grape harvest, the da Vinci Society of Delaware’s 13th annual Vendemmia da Vinci, will take over Bellevue State Park. The event includes fine Italian wine, beer and catering by Italian restaurants. Admission is $50 in advance and $60 at the door.

Grainfest 2016
Grain Craft Bar + Kitchen, 270 E. Main St., Newark
Saturday, Oct. 15; 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
grainonmain.com
This will be a fall celebration of craft beer and live music, featuring five bands on Grain’s new outdoor stage in the back lot, providing the perfect backdrop for the new beer garden, featuring more than 15 breweries and two food trucks. Chef Bill will be cooking up something special for the day. There will be kids’ activities as well.

Delaware Wine & Beer Festival
Delaware State Fairgrounds, 18500 S. DuPont Highway, Harrington
Saturday, Oct. 15; noon-5 p.m.
delawarewineandbeerfestival.com
The 7th annual festival features national acts Sam Grow and the Dueling Pianos. Local and regional wines, beers and spirits will be available. Painted Stave, Evolution Brewing, Bellefonte Brewing Co., and Dogfish are just a few.

Musikarmageddon Finale
the baby grand, 818 N Market St., Wilmington
Saturday, Oct. 15; 8-11 p.m.
outandaboutnow.com/musikarmageddon
Who will be champion of the area’s biggest battle of the bands? Arden Kind, Hoochi Coochi, The Susquehanna Floods and TreeWalker are the finalists for the Musikarmageddon X showdown.

Delaware Splatter Dash
Oberod Estate, 400 Burnt Mill Rd., Wilmington
Sunday, Oct. 16; 8 a.m.-3 p.m.
cffde.org
Benefitting Children & Families First, this fundraiser is for anyone who wants to walk, jog or run for a cause – and plow through seven color stations to get splattered by non-toxic, biodegradable powder en route to the finish line. The course covers 1.5 miles of off-road grass trails through trees, with a few inclines, but nothing difficult.

Pirate FlagHeavy Seas Party
Kalmar Nyckel & Riverfront
Dravo Plaza, Wilmington
Thursday, Oct. 20; 5-8 p.m.
Hosted by O&A, the Heavy Seas Party on the Riverfront includes tours on the Kalmar Nyckel (5-6:15 p.m.) and live music on the Riverfront with beers from Heavy Seas. This will be a fundraiser for the Delaware Children’s Museum. Featuring fresh pours of the Pounder Pils, Loose Cannon IPA, and the Partner Ships Terrapin Rye Wit, the event includes appetizers and live music by the Brad Newsom Trio (6-8 p.m.). Those 21 and older are welcome, and tickets are $30 in advance, $40 at the door.

The Ultimate Tailgate
Sheraton Wilmington South
365 Airport Rd., New Castle
Thursday, Oct. 20; 6-9 p.m.
mealsonwheelsde.org/ultimate-tailgate
The event will feature the best of area restaurants serving unique interpretations of tailgate food. This sophisticated yet casual event also will feature wine, spirits and a beer garden curated by 2SP Brewing Company. VIP admission is at 5:30 p.m.

I Want My CTC
– A Tribute to the ‘80s
World Cafe Live at The Queen, 500 N. Market St., Wilmington
Saturday, Oct. 22; 7 p.m.
worldcafelive.com
Joe Trainor assembles some of the area’s finest musicians and City Theater gathers some of its finest singers, traveling back in time to when video ruled the airways. Focusing on the golden age of MTV, this production brings some of the enduring ‘80s classics live to the stage for just one night. Tickets start at $20.

Halloween Blue Jean Ball
222 Lake Dr., Newark
Saturday, Oct. 22; 6:30-10:30 p.m.
fbdbluejeanball.org
This year’s event will take place at the Food Bank of Delaware’s new Newark building. To help combat hunger in the state of Delaware, the Food Bank is holding its 11th annual event, complete with a seasonal Halloween theme—come dressed in a costume or casual blue jeans (there will be a costume contest). A small plate menu prepared by students from the Food Bank’s Culinary School will be featured, led by the team at Iron Hill Brewery (also the presenting sponsor). Tickets are $75.

Beers & Gears at Delaware Park
777 Delaware Park Blvd., Wilmington
Saturday, Oct. 22; 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
delawarepark.com
Rev your engines for this annual seasonal favorite for area car enthusiasts. It’s open to all years, makes and models for participants, and of course, anyone is welcome to stroll through the colorful rows of sheet metal, chrome ad steel. Rain date is Oct. 23, rain or shine, and trophies will be awarded in all categories (rat rods, muscles, exotics, hot rods, tuners, pro street, classics, imports, and trucks). Rolling Revolution food trucks will be around for lunch and dinner.

DTC’s Wine Feast and Auction
Delaware Art Museum, 2301 Kentmere Parkway, Wilmington
Friday, Oct. 28; 6-9:30 p.m.
delawaretheatre.org/winefeast
Wine lovers rejoice! The Delaware Theatre Company announces the return of the successful Wine Feast and Auction for another year. Enjoy a night of tastes from local restaurants like Caffé Gelato, Harry’s Hospitality Group and Domaine Hudson, and wine from purveyors like Branmar Wine and Spirits, Collier’s of Centreville and Frank’s wine at this intimate evening of philanthropy at the Delaware Art Museum. Beer will also be available from Dogfish Head and other breweries. All proceeds benefit the artistic, education and community engagement programming of the Delaware Theatre Company. Tickets range from $75-$250.

37th Annual Halloween Loop
Various Wilmington venues
Saturday, Oct. 29; 8 p.m.
outandaboutnow.com/halloween-loop
The Halloween Loop is a citywide party in which club patrons pay a one-time cover charge of $10 to visit more than a dozen nightspots throughout Wilmington. It (almost) goes without mentioning: wear a costume! Buses start running at 8 p.m., and stop their regular routes at 12:45 a.m. with last-visit stops at 1 a.m.

Auburn Heights Fun
3000 Creek Rd., Yorklyn
Various dates
auburnheights.org
During Steamin’ Days at Auburn Heights, visitors can climb into antique automobiles or board a train to experience what it was like to travel at the turn of the 20th century. Guests can also tour the magnificent 1897 mansion that was home to three generations of the Marshall family. Steamin’ Days this fall are Oct. 2 and Nov. 6, plus Steamin’ Halloween on Oct. 30 and Steamin’ Thanksgiving on Nov. 26. Other events take place throughout the month.

F.Y.I. – Oct. 2016

CHARLES PARKS BOOK RELEASE IS OCT. 27

The Charles Parks Foundation will release a photo book about the world-renowned sculptor and proud Delawarean on Thursday, Oct. 27. With text by Pam George and photography by Kevin Fleming, the book honors Parks’ life and works. The book release ceremony will take place in the DuPont Environmental Education Center on the Wilmington waterfront from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. The Charles Parks Foundation is a non-profit founded in 2000 with the goal of keeping Parks’ collection in the state and ensuring his legacy. In 2011, Governor Jack Markell accepted the nearly 300-piece collection, along with Parks’ files, for the benefit of generations of Delawareans to come. The book, Charles Cropper Parks – The Man Behind the Art, costs $50. For more information, visit charlesparksbook.com.

MATTRESS FIRM PARTNERS WITH CFF

Mattress Firm is partnering with Children & Families First (CFF) to launch its Foster Kids Program to provide necessities to foster youth and raise awareness of foster care. Mattress Firm has partnered with local nonprofits like CFF, which has helped support 3,000 families and more than 2,000 adoptions, to expand its outreach in Delaware and provide children with the tools they need to flourish. As a donation from the Mattress Firm, the CFF will receive clothing, school supplies and toys to distribute to those in need. The Delaware Mattress Firm is holding a shoe drive now through Oct. 31, and a Secret Santa Toy Drive from Tuesday, Nov. 1, to Sunday, Dec. 18. For more information, visit mattressfirm.com or cffde.org.

AAA MID-ATLANTIC HOSTS BILL SIGNING

In late August, in a ceremony at AAA Mid-Atlantic headquarters on the Riverfront, Gov. Jack Markell signed House Bill 302, which doubles fines for drivers caught using a handheld device. It increased the civil penalty for a first offense from $50 to $100; for subsequent offenses penalties range from $200 to $300. The bill also increases the portion of the assessed fine that will go to support the Volunteer Ambulance Company Fund. Since 2014, Delaware State Police have issued an average of more than 12,000 citations a year to drivers using cell phones and other devices. According to the Delaware Office of Highway Safety, an average of 150 crashes a year in Delaware involve cell phone distractions.

COCKTAILS FOR A CAUSE

Grab some friends and head to Harry’s Savoy Grill on Thursday, Oct. 20, for food, live music and an auction in support of the Greater Wilmington Boys & Girls Clubs. Featuring music by Cooke and Friends and cocktails for a cause, all proceeds will benefit the foundation’s mission to provide youth with educational opportunities and tools for success. The event is 6 to 9 p.m. and tickets are $60. For more information, visit bgclubs.org.

7TH STREET ARTS BRIDGE PARK

In celebration of National Park(ing) Day on Sept. 2, The Creative District Wilmington unveiled its 7th Street Art Bridge Park(let). National Park(ing) Day is an annual celebration where artists transform parking spaces into temporary public spaces, which the 7th Street “park(let)” will prolong as it continues to hold community events throughout the year. The art park will promote the Creative District’s goal to transform and unify urban areas around the City of Wilmington. For more information, visit creativedistrictwilm.com.

DELAWARE CRAFT WEEK

From Friday, Oct. 7, to Sunday, Oct. 16, experience Delaware’s role in the nationwide Craft Week as artists exhibit their works statewide. Participants include jewelers, sculptors, potters, painters and many more at venues throughout Delaware. Local artists will exhibit and/or sell their crafts, showcasing our state’s eclectic artistic community. Participants include Hagley Museum and Library, 2nd Act Antiques, Collectibles & Treasures, Mispillion Art League, Penn’s Place and more. No admission fee will be charged to exhibits and events. For more information, visit americancraftweek.com.

INAUGURAL GRIT GAMES

The Central YMCA will host its first-ever GRIT Games, a fitness competition open to the public to test strength, stamina, agility and power, on Saturday, Oct. 8. Entrants can compete individually or on a team in three events: In Runner’s Revenge, contestants complete as many repetitions as possible of several exercises at several stations; the Strength and Conditioning Match-Up includes clean and press, squats and more using a weighted bar; Explosion and Power Challenge involves box jumps, plyo pushups and more. Bring your own team or the YMCA can match you up that day. All athletes, from beginners to pros, are welcome. The competition starts at 9 a.m., and prices range from $30 to $40. An after party with beer and pizza will be held in the parking lot. For more information, visit ymcade.org.

Worth Trying – Aug. 2016

Suggestions from our staff, contributors and readers

Constitution Yards

The new seasonal beer garden is the perfect addition to the Riverfront. Located at Justison Landing and open seven days a week, the summer go-to destination offers backyard games, classic barbecue fare and of course, a variety of beers and cocktails. Grab a summer ale and get in line for giant Jenga!

—Krista Connor, Associate Editor

Quinn’s Café

Whenever I go out to breakfast with family or friends, my first instinct is to go to Quinn’s. The eatery has been around for a while, but became known as Quinn’s Café in 2011. This Hockessin favorite tends to be a little crowded on the weekends, but the delicious food is made to order so it’s always worth the wait (quinnscafe.com).

—Emma Driban, Intern

Mini-Cannoli from Toscana To Go

I went with my mom to pick up dinner from Toscana To Go, and after I bugged her enough she let me get a dessert. But she would only let me get the cannoli because they were small and only cost $1.50. I was nervous because she said there was cheese inside, and that kind of sounded gross. I didn’t like it. I LOVED it! The outside was like a thin cookie, the inside was sweet and creamy, and there were chocolate chips sprinkled on it. You have to try one.

—Oliver Poot, 1st grader and Wilmington Resident

Movies on Tap

When the good folks at Premier Wine & Spirits sat down with our friends at Penn Cinema, they conjured up some sweet synergy. The meeting’s magic resulted in the “Movies on Tap” series at Penn Cinema, which pairs cult-classic films with seasonal offerings of local breweries. For film geeks, it’s a great opportunity to see some popular movies of the past on the big screen in a fun setting. For beer freaks, it’s a chance to meet area brewmasters and get a taste of their latest concoctions. That these nights raise money for local charities is simply icing on the cake. Caddyshack with Mispillion River Brewing, Ghostbusters with Sicilian cannoli with chocolateYards Brewing Co., Pulp Fiction with Evil Genius Beer Company and The Blues Brothers with Blue Earl Brewing Co. were big hits. This month, it’s The Goonies with 2SP Brewing Co. on Wednesday, August 17. To reserve your seats, go to penncinema.com.

—Jim Miller, Director of Publications

Sips – Jan. 2016

Here’s what’s pouring

Release Party Jan. 8

Hops cone

On Friday, Jan. 8, Fordham & Dominion Brewing Co. will hold a brewery release party for a new spiced winter ale called “Son of a Nutcracker.” The party will be at the brewery’s headquarters in Dover from 5 to 8 p.m. Admission is $5.

Food Trucks, Wine & Beer

On Wednesday, Jan. 13, The Pig + Fish Restaurant Co. in Rehoboth Beach will host a unique event for the taste buds. Starting at 6:30 p.m., the restaurant’s culinary team will present four courses from food trucks paired with craft beer and boutique wines. Tickets are $59.95 and include all food and drinks.

Return of the Hops

Due to the shortage of Citra hops, Iron Hill Brewery’s most popular seasonal beer has not been brewed in more than a year. On Friday, Jan. 15, the area brewery will celebrate its return with the Riverfront IPA Beer Release event from 5 to 8 p.m. at Iron Hill’s Wilmington location.

A Local & National Favorite

z3Newark’s Argilla Brewing Co. has been deemed No. 8 on Food & Wine Magazine’s list of Top 50 Nanobreweries in the country. Initially a pizza shop when it opened in 1978, the company transitioned into a 1.5-barrel brewery. Argilla is the smallest brewery in the state.

Waway: An Annual Tradition

This year’s sixth annual Wine About What Ales You features wine, ale, food, dancing, a silent auction and more. Hors d’oeuvres by Penn’s Bistro from William Penn High School will be served in addition to a wide array of beer from area breweries and wineries, including 3rd Wave Brewing Co., Mispillion River Brewing Co. and Crow Vineyard. It will be held in The River Room at the New Castle Senior Center in New Castle on Saturday, Jan. 16, from 5:30-9 p.m. Tickets are $40, and all proceeds benefit the Wayside Exhibit Project.

Painting & Beer

On Tuesday, Feb. 9, Victory Brewing Co.’s Brewpub in Downingtown, Pa., will offer its spin on ladies night, Girls Just Wanna Have Suds, featuring painting and beer. From 6:30-9 p.m., guests can paint, eat snacks and enjoy seasonal beers on tap. Tickets are $45 and availability is limited.