WINONA LAKE – The purpose of Kosciusko Kettleheads’ Homebrew Fest is twofold.

Club President Jason Rich said it’s to “show off our brewing skills to the public who may not know some of the best beer around is being made by their neighbors, and to raise money for an excellent cause.”

The eighth annual Homebrew Fest fundraiser for Combined Community Services is June 23 in a large tent in the parking lot near The Garden at Cerulean in Winona Lake. Maple Leaf Farms sponsors the tent.

General admission is 6 to 9 p.m., with VIPs admitted at 5 p.m. General admission tickets are $25 and can be purchased in advance online at gardenwinona.com/homebrew2018 or at the door. VIP tickets are limited to 50 and are $45 in advance; if there’s any left they can be purchased at the door, Rich said. VIP tickets usually sell out in advance.

Member Aaron Winey said VIP tickets include a commemorative glass, snacks from The Garden, exclusive beers and early admission. New this year to the Fest is a VIP area separate from the general tasting area.

Much of the money CCS gets from the Homebrew fundraiser is used to help clients with their utilities “when they have their utilities shut off, or families need their utilities turned back on or to get them through the winter or the bad summer months. So it’s really needed,” CCS Executive Director Steve Possell said.

At this time of the year, no other fundraiser for CCS is scheduled so Possell said the Homebrew Fest works out perfectly. The 2017 event raised about $7,400 for CCS, Rich estimated. Possell said it can vary how many families that much money can assist, depending on what kind of help they need, but he ballparked it at around 30 to 40 families.

The theme for this year’s Fest is again “Brew Good, Do Good.” Since the inception of the club, Kettleheads has raised over $37,000 for the community, and not just CCS, Rich said.

“We value doing good in the community and we can express that through brewing for charity events. They (CCS) value doing good in the community and they do that by  providing money for utilities to families. So it’s kind of a shared passion, we have the same goal,” Winey said.

“It’s a way to help the most amount of people,” Rich said.

Possell said CCS does rely on some federal money and United Way is a big help. “But you never know what’s going to happen with block grants and things like that. ... We do have our big food drive. Farmers are a huge help with food. Churches are a huge help with utilities and food. When Kettleheads do (the Fest), it really helps us out with the utility assistance where we need it. They also do a little Christmas party where we get some proceeds from that,” he said.

Member Daren Deffenbaugh said the Kettleheads and CCS have a “great partnership.”

Winey said this year’s Fest will feature a lot of India Pale Ales (IPA), as usual. “I’m brewing a Czech lager and a pomegranate sour. A bohemian-style lager,” he said



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“There’ll be several fruit beers, there will be several Belgian beers,” Rich said.

Member Lorraine Deffenbaugh said she was making a molasses stout that tastes like gingerbread. It’ll be a VIP beer due to it being a small batch.

Darren said he’ll have his black IPA called Skidmark that everyone loves every year; a Scottish ale; and a yet-to-be-brewed beer “probably something that’s going to be very fresh.”

“Many of the beers have not been brewed yet because they’re going to be very fresh for the event,” Rich said during a May 9 interview.

Winey said there’ll be a number of sours as well.

In 2017, Winey said there were over 40 beers at the Fest. Rich said the VIP beers usually will be more exotic than higher strength offerings. About 20 of the approximate 30-40 Kettleheads members participate in the Homebrew Fest each year, Rich said. Kettleheads is the only brew club in the county, Winey said.

Besides the beer, Winey said those who attend the event get an opportunity to talk to the brewers, ask questions, hear about each individual beer, and get together with other beer enthusiasts.

“It’s a night to enjoy beer,” he said. “A wide variety of beers is definitely a benefit.”

“There’s unique beer you can not buy anywhere else,” said Daren.

“There’s dozens of styles represented here,” Rich said.

There will be an opportunity for beer-related door prizes and other items such as a $100 gift card from Cerulean.

If a person from the Fest goes to The Garden to eat and has their bracelet on that night, 10 percent of their purchase will go to CCS, CCS Director of Development Alyssa Lowe said.  

For more information on the club, visit its website at kettleheads.org.