Cool Brews, Hot Wings
The Area Chamber of Commerce and Hopridge Farms will be joining forces again to present the next Southern Vermont Wings and Winter Homebrew Festival, which won a coveted Top 10 Vermont Winter Event Award last year. The event will be held on Saturday, March 10, at the former Brush Building, 190 North Street, downtown Bennington.
The Festival has invited the area’s top home brewers, asking them to bring their very best home brewed beer, cider, mead, braggot and wine for a chance to be crowned Best Home Brewery. In addition, area restaurants have been asked to submit their best chicken wings for the chance to be crowned Best Regional Wings, a crown currently held by Ramunto’s Pizza on Main Street in Bennington. Doors open at 12 noon for a private tasting of wings and brews and music to those with $50 VIP tickets. Several wing flavors and beverages will only be available during this VIP hour. General tickets, $30, get patrons into the Festival from 1 to 4 p.m. All tickets include a commemorative glass, samples of brews and wings, and a chance to vote for the winners. They can be purchased at bennington.com/homebrew or at the door.
“We knew after the success of last year we had to make this bigger and better,” states Matt Harrington, executive director of the Area Chamber. “Last year saw a crowd of 300 patrons and with pre-online ticket sales making up a majority of those tickets, the event sold out within 30 minutes of the doors opening. “We know how popular this event was for us last year; our main goal was to secure a place much larger so that we could encourage more people to come out. We’re hoping to see a crowd between 500 and 600 this time around. That doesn’t mean people shouldn’t buy their tickets ahead of time – this is a very popular event and we have already seen our ticket sales grow from last year at this point.”
Will Gardner, owner of Hopridge Farms and operator and head brewer at Madison Brewing Company, added, “We are working to entrench the craft beer movement here in Bennington, and what better way than to showcase the next wave of professional brewers. I am amazed that at every Home Brew event I organize (six to date) the beer is as good, if not better, than commercial beer. The home brewers for our region are as good as they come, and where else can you sample beer, wine, cider and mead all under one roof! We will continue to bring these events to Bennington as long as they keep supporting them.”
This year, the local band Beard and Glasses will help to energize the crowd, with an emphasis on making every tune sound like an original; soulful, witty and always from the heart.
Area restaurants interested in entering their wings can still register. “This is a great way for businesses to go head-to-head in a wing-off,” encourages Harrington. “But in all honesty, this is also a great way to showcase their businesses, talk with customers, and really have fun with the community coming out and enjoying a good time. We think it’s a win-win-win for all, and that’s what the Chamber is about!”
The Wings and Winter Homebrew Festival is part of the Championship Weekend which includes the National Snowshoe Championships up on Prospect Mountain. The festival encourages those who are enjoying the championships to also come and enjoy championship brews and wings.