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Beer Dinners and Festivals Pave the Way for Fall Brews

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Toss what’s left of your lime wedges and down that last sixer of shandy – it’s time for lighter-than-air summer beer to R.I.P. and make way for its spicy, full-figured counterpart. Fall beer season is in full tilt, and there’s no reason to miss out on any pumpkin-smacked or hops-stacked brew this year, especially when we’ve laid out a foolproof plan to help get your lips on every swig possible this season – just be sure to do so responsibly.*

Beer Dinners

Is there any happier marriage than that of beer and bacon (and the rest of the pig too)? Newark’s Two Stones Pub hosts its third-annual Pig Roast Beer Dinner on Oct. 20, and the menu is not for the faint (or blocked) of heart: pork cheek tamales, scrapple bombs (yes, really), crispy pig ear and even a bacon-laden dessert get paired with Two Stones’ legendary beer selection for an unforgettable night of pigging out. $72 (gratuity included). 6:30 p.m. 2 Chesmar Plaza, Newark; (302) 294-1890, twostonespub.com.

Leave it to one of the country’s oldest bars to get the whole beer-food pairing right. The Yards Beer Dinner at Jessop’s Tavern on Oct. 20 welcomes Ian Wallace of the Philly-based brewery to guide guests through a menu loaded with lamb, shellfish, pork (sorry, vegans), finished off with a voluptuous peach tart and all washed down with five of Yards’ stellar brews. $60 (gratuity included). 6:30 p.m. 114 Delaware St., New Castle; (302) 322-6111, jessops-tavern.com.

If you’re not turned on by the following statement, we just can’t help you in this world: The Craft Beer & Grilled Cheese Tasting returns to World Cafe Live on Nov. 6, and it goes without saying that the ambrosia of hot cheese and cold beer is unrivaled, especially once November’s chills hit your bones.  Past combinations include Yards Saison paired with Old Bay cheddar and crab cake sliders and Darkhorse Raspberry Ale with sea salt chocolate mousse, so you know this isn’t your typical dose of nostalgia. Vegetarians are in luck too, as WCL is more than happy to accommodate your leaf-munching friends. $40. 6 p.m. 500 N. Market St., Wilmington; (302) 994-1400, queen.worldcafelive.com.

Dogfish Head enthusiasts, this one’s for you. The White Whale Beer Dinner at Caffé Gelato on Nov. 16 hosts Sam Calagione, chief of alchemy at the Milton brewery, for a night of expertly paired seafood-and-beer courses. And if you think we’re talkin’ 60 Minute, think again. Calagione is bringing über-exclusive, small-batch brews like Choc Lobster, a porter base brewed with live lobsters and dark cocoa powder, and occasional rarities like the luscious Red & White, rich with coriander and orange peel and fermented with pinot noir juice. Needless to say, this is one Dogfish Head experience you don’t want to miss. $79. 6 p.m. 90 E. Main St., Newark; (302) 738-5811, caffegelato.net.

Beer Festivals

The first-annual OktDoverFest on Oct.18 is set to douse Loockerman Street in Fordham & Dominion beers, accompanied by traditional German fare from Frankfurt Bakery & Deli, the Golden Fleece Tavern and other eateries throughout the day. The official OktDoverFest All Brass Band is a highlight of the afternoon, and you don’t want to miss out on 33 West Ale House and Grill’s $10 all-you-can-eat pancake, sausage and bacon breakfast. The best part? Proceeds benefit USO Delaware, a charity to which we can all raise a glass. Breakfast: $10. 10 a.m. – noon. 33 West Ale House and Grill, 33 W. Loockerman St., Dover; (302) 735-9822, 33westalehouseandgrill.com. Festival: $25 (includes mug and three drink tickets); $20/designated drivers; children 12 and under free; 1-8 p.m. Loockerman Street, Dover; oktdoverfest.com.

You definitely should not drink and drive. But no one said anything about combining a craft beer festival and a car show, which is exactly what Delaware Park’s Beers & Gears Festival does best. The Oct. 25 event allows guests to cruise through 30 different breweries, such as Saranac, Brooklyn, Weyerbacher and more, each showcasing two beers for tasting. Two event packages come with a tasting cup, slot coupons and a bratwurst, so all you have to do is decide whether you’re Cruising ($15 for 10 beer tickets) or Touring ($30 for 25 beer tickets). Personally, we love it when we’re cruising together, so round up your friends and purchase additional Drag Strips (extra beer tickets) for optimal tasting. $15 or $30, $5 per 5 extra beer tickets. Noon – 4 p.m. 777 Delaware Park Blvd., Wilmington; (302) 994-2521, delawarepark.com.

It’s hard to imagine a better setting for an autumn festival than Greenville. Twin Lakes Harvest Fest on Oct. 25 is just the ticket, and it’s always a plus when you’re supporting local, homegrown beer (and honey, too). Nothing fancy here, just the simple seasonal goodness of pumpkin weight contests, live music, complimentary German food and growler fills to keep the party going long after the fest has ended. $25. Noon – 4 p.m. 4210 Kennett Pike, Greenville; (302) 658-1826, twinlakesbrewingcompany.com.

If you can’t make a daylong festival, why not indulge in a whole week? Wilmington Beer Week returns Nov. 1-8, featuring tap takeovers, seriously extravagant dinners and special guest appearances from industry personalities. If you’re a fan of Vermont breweries (like we are), Kid Shelleen’s is the place to be for Long Trail and Otter Creek flights. If a more eclectic vibe is what you’re looking for, the Two Stones Pubs have you covered with a wide variety of beer-soaked brunches and tap takeovers from some of the best in the biz. There’s no shortage of venues or featured breweries (nearly 60!), so plan accordingly. Visit wilmingtonbeerweek.com.

If the family overload of Thanksgiving and Black Friday shopping were enough to drive you to drink, Philly’s Winter Beer Fest is here to serve, just in the nick of time. The Nov. 29 event gives thanks for craft beers and spreads holiday cheer among its patrons, who will be so busy stuffing themselves on food truck fare they won’t even know that Christmas is a mere 26 days away. What’s great about this festival is the presence of uncommon breweries you’re not likely to find anywhere else – think Leelanau Brewing Company, Central Waters Brewery and Spring House Beers. Ever heard of ’em? Now’s the perfect time to get acquainted. $40/advance, $50/day of, $10/designated driver (door only). 1-5 p.m. (afternoon session) and 6-10 p.m. (evening session). 23rd Street Armory, 22 S. 23rd St., Philadelphia; winterbeerfest.com.

Dan Neuner Photography

You’re going to want a DD for the Valley Forge Beer Festival, and not only because it’s held at the Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks. The Dec. 6 extravaganza is a roundup of all the domestic and global beers on your bucket list, and then some for kicks. If you’re looking to brush up on your beer IQ, the festival will also have a variety of seminars on tap from industry experts. This year’s lineup is still in development, but last year’s offerings ranged from homebrew how-tos to starting your very own brewery. $40/advance, $60/door, $10/designated driver. 12:30 – 4 p.m. (session 1) and 5:30 – 9 (session 2). Philadelphia Expo Center, 100 Station Ave., Oaks; valleyforgebeerfest.com.

And for those of you trying to get ahead of the game, you already have Kennett Winterfest marked down for Feb. 28 of next year. Tickets go on sale Nov. 28, and the event is a likely sell-out.

*All events are 21 and older unless specifically noted

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