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Local Homebrewers’ CCS fundraiser sells out

Kosciusko Kettleheads’ eighth annual Homebrew Fest Saturday was sold out and organizers called it one of their biggest events since it started.

“We’re ecstatic about the turnout tonight. We love sharing our brews with so many people, and the more people we share with the more money we raise for (Combined Community Services),” said Kettleheads President Jason Rich at the beer-tasting event in Winona Lake.

Held in a large tent sponsored by Maple Leaf Farms in the parking lot next to The Garden at Cerulean, the event raised money for the agency’ utility assistance program. VIP tickets were $45 and limited to the first 50 and came with a souvenir glass and early admission, while general admission was $25.

Aaron Winey, Kettleheads member, estimated over 250 tickets were sold, including VIP and general admission. “This is bigger than last year. We had Indiana On Tap come. It’s our best turnout. We couldn’t be happier,” he said. Indiana On Tap is an online craft beer publication at indianaontap.com from Indianapolis.

CCS Executive Director Steve Possell said that while the Kettleheads have been hosting the event for eight years, this is the seventh year CCS “has tagged along” for it. So many people showed up for this year’s event that they ran out of sample glasses and Cerulean had to provide some. Along with providing glassware, Cerulean donated 10 percent of its food sales during the event to CCS, he said.

Along with Maple Leaf Farms, The Garden  and Cerulean, Possell thanked The Spectacle Shoppe, Blue Note and Ron Baumgartner or their sponsorship and Culligan Water for donating seven cases of water.

Over 20 Kettleheads members provided an assortment of stouts, IPAs, ciders, double IPAs, triples, ales and porters for the four-hour event.

Jared and Jennifer Cooper were offering samples of “It’s Not A Tumor” stout and “Get Your A** To Mars” double IPA. Jared said the stout was an oaked vanilla oatmeal stout with notes of bourbon barrels and a strong presence of oatmeal and malt character. The double IPA had a maple malt profile with a very forward hop presence, and tropical fruits, melons and citrus fruit flavor.

He said he’s been crafting his own beer for 15 years, but only seriously for the last six or seven years after he moved to the Warsaw area from Alabama.

“This is really fun,” he said of being a Kettleheads member and participating in the Homebrew Fest.

Dan Murphy, Warsaw, thought Cooper’s double IPA was “fantastic.”

Eric Scott, Kettleheads member, was offering up his Tripel The Honey Belgian triple at 9.4 percent alcohol and Helles Bells at 4.8 percent. He said he started making his own beer about three years ago when his mother bought him a one-gallon starter kit. “It took off from there,” he said.

Scott said he’s been making the Tripel and Helles Bells for over a year and wanted to take both of them to the Homebrew Fest to give people a choice on the strength of alcohol and something different from an IPA, not that he doesn’t like IPA.

He said he enjoyed Saturday’s event because it was “interacting with the community, showing the craft-making here is wide, showing them we’re making this out of our home and it all goes to charity.”

Lonzo Miller, Warsaw, has attended four Homebrew Fests. “I would honestly say I’m just surprised at the beer I try here. I’m surprised every year at the beer I try here.”

Dave Feltman, of Chicago, who owns a cottage in Winona Lake, was attending the event with David Sivicek, Warsaw, and their wives. Feltman and Sivicek are retired Chicago detectives and were at the event for the first time.

“We like beer. We like stout beer and we have a cottage up here,” Feltman said.

Diane Feltman said her favorite of the night was “Rum Barrel Coconut” stout by Dustin Hollar. “It’s very smooth, we like the flavor. Put a scoop of ice cream in there and we’re done,” she said.

David Sivicek said he enjoyed the Fest. “It’s fun, friendly. The brewers are all happy to be here. They’re all happy to talk about their beers. The beers also are all good.”

Helen Sivicek was the only one of the group of four who preferred a different drink – the “It’s Not A Tumor” stout by Jared Cooper. “I think it’s a little smoother and a little sweet,” she said, promising to come back to the 2019 event.

Bryan Long, Warsaw, attended the Fest for a second year with his wife, but he met some new friends at the event.

“It’s a good social gathering and it’s for a good cause. I’m always good for a good cause. I came with my wife and it just so happened I made some new friends. Warsaw is a friendly place,” Long said before doing a toast with his new friends, Nash Keirn, Corey Eppelmann and Trent Cooper.