Dining With Denise Neil

Two beer events will keep Delano hopping this weekend

Oskar Blues out of Colorado will be among the breweries represented at Saturday’s Wichita Craft Beer & Food Fest at The Monarch, 579 W. Douglas.
Oskar Blues out of Colorado will be among the breweries represented at Saturday’s Wichita Craft Beer & Food Fest at The Monarch, 579 W. Douglas. Courtesy of The Monarch

Delano will be awash in beer this weekend.

The neighborhood just west of downtown will be home to two tasting events: The Amber Waves Beer Walk and Tasting Tour on Friday, a second annual fundraiser for Starkey, will send participants strolling between businesses on Douglas, sampling craft beers and appetizers at each stop. Then, on Saturday, the Wichita Craft Beer Guild will put on its Wichita Craft Beer & Food Fest, a tasting event at the Monarch, 579 W. Douglas, that will showcase regional beers brewed in Kansas and states that touch it: Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma.

“Craft beer is definitely on the upswing, and there are more of us focused on it,” said Steven Haines, the manager of the craft and import beer department at House of Schwan who also is one of the organizers of Saturday’s tasting. “We want it to grow here, and it still has so much potential.”

Friday’s Amber Waves tasting happens from 6 to 9 p.m. and will include more craft beer than it did last year, said Jamie Opat, director of communications for Starkey. It also will include more beer overall.

Ticket holders will check in either at The Monarch or Bell Carpet & Floors, where they’ll be given a lanyard they can take to each of the 12 participating West Douglas businesses. Each business will have an appetizer waiting, provided by restaurants including Mexico Cafe Delano, Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers, Sugar Sisters Bakery, Dickey’s Barbecue Pit and more. Each store also will have a sample of craft beer – and some will have two. Live musicians also will perform at two of the stops.

This year’s participants are A New Twist, All Things Barbecue, Bell Carpet & Floors, Bicycle X-Change, Bungalow 26, Melange Custom Jewelry, Skeletons Out of the Closet, Sugar Sisters Bakery, Sweet Cheeks Boutique, The Chocolate Fountain, The Iron Door Project and What’s Brewin’.

Last year, Opat said, Amber Waves drew about 250 people and raised $20,000 for Starkey, a nonprofit that provides services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities

The weather was cool and rainy, as it could be again this year, but Opat said that wasn’t a real hindrance.

“There are a lot of awnings,” Opat said. “You’re getting a taste of the beer and listening to live music, and then you’re out in the raindrops for just a few moments.”

Tickets to the event are $50 a person.

Rain also is a possibility for Saturday’s Wichita Craft Beer & Food Fest, which organizers plan to set up in the parking lot behind The Monarch. If it does rain, the beer tasting will be moved indoors. Either way, The Monarch will be closed to nonfestival attendees until 4 p.m. on Saturday.

If the rain holds off, the samples of nearly 140 regional craft beers will be set up in the parking lot, arranged by state. Nearly all of Wichita’s craft brewers will be represented, including Wichita Brewing Co., River City Brewing Co., Hopping Gnome, Hank Is Wiser and Walnut River Brewing.

The event also will have several local food trucks on site selling food. Among them: The Flying Stove, Hopperoni Express, B.S. Sandwich Press, Let’m Eat Brats, Funky Monkey Munchies, Brickhouse BBQ and The Brown Box Bakery.

It also will feature demonstrations by the Wichita Homebrewers Organization, which will offer tips on making beer at home.

Originally, Wichita Craft Beer Guild members hoped to stage the festival on the Hyatt Lawn but later decided to change focus and hold it at The Monarch. (They also originally decided to call it WichCraft but changed the name after legal threats from celebrity chef Tom Collichio, owner of the the gourmet sandwich restaurant chain Wichcraft.)

The group will decide after this year whether to move to a bigger location or stay put for future festivals, Haines said.

Last fall, they asked organizers of the annual Midwest Beerfest to shift its focus to craft beer, and it worked, he said.

“We wanted to help make the Midwest Beerfest more crafty, and we nailed that. It’s the best one I’ve been to,” he said. “Then we thought, ‘This town can definitely support if not one, two or three more beer festivals.’ You’ve got to get the beer out in front of the people, and you have to educate them.”

Tickets are $30 and include a punch card good for a limited number of samples, which, if all consumed, equal about 4 pints. Attendees also will get commemorative tasting glasses.

If You Go

Delano beer events

What: Amber Waves Beer Walk and Tasting Tour

When: 6-9 p.m. Friday

Where: West Douglas in Delano

How much: Tickets are $50 and available in advance at amberwavesict.com. They also can be purchased the day of the event at The Monarch, 579 W. Douglas.

What: Wichita Craft Beer & Food Fest

When: 1-4 p.m. Saturday

Where: The Monarch, 579 W. Douglas

How much: Tickets are $30 at eventbrite.com.