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THE BREWHOLDER: Historic Normandy Farm pairs craft brew with well-crafted fare this summer

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WRITTEN BY MATT BRASCH
For Digital First Media

The land on which Normandy Farm sits today can trace its farming tradition back to 1730, and its tavern tradition to the “Franklinville Inn” established in 1834. At the turn of the twentieth century it was a gentleman’s estate owned by a prosperous Philadelphia businessman. After several changes in ownership, it is now a resort hotel, conference center, and home of “The Farmer’s Daughter,” a restaurant that embraces “Modern Farm Cooking.”
This summer, Normandy Farm has launched its “Craft & Que Series” — three dinner events in July, August and September that pair a local craft brewery with the perfect meal and entertainment for summer enjoyment. Gary Murray, Director of Sales & Marketing for Normandy Farm, explains that while the series is called “Craft ‘n Que,” each of the three events has its own identity.
On July 21, the series kicks off with a Clam Bake that will feature Flying Fish Brewing Co. beer. The menu includes a raw bar with oysters and shrimp, lobster corn chowder, steamed clams and mussels, and of course, all you can drink Flying Fish brews. Gene Muller, founder of Flying Fish, thinks his beer will be excellent for the event — “Flying Fish has always focused on making food friendly beers and our favorite beers and foods are those of summer, so this is a perfect pairing!”

PHOTO COURTESY OF NORMANDY FARMS Normandy Farm's Crab Fest was enjoyed by over 500 craft beer and seafood fans in 2015.

PHOTO COURTESY OF NORMANDY FARMS
Normandy Farm’s Crab Fest was enjoyed by over 500 craft beer and seafood fans in 2015.

According to Murray, “If you want the signature Normandy Farm experience, the Pig Roast on Aug. 11 is the event to attend because it is the most carefully crafted to the suburban Philadelphia farm tradition. Between the pigs roasting on spits, the Whiskeyhickon Boys providing live, foot stomping music, and Yards Brewing Co. beer, it is exactly what you should think of when you hear ‘Normandy Farm’.”
The last event of the Craft & Que Series is the Crab Fest, which will be held on Sept. 8. Last year the Crab Fest was the most popular according to Murray. This year it will feature Downingtown-based Victory Brewing Co.’s “Summer Love.” Bill Covaleski, owner and brewer of Victory Brewing Co. believes “Summer Love is a perfectly refreshing and thirst quenching golden ale. I can’t think of a better beer to connect with the character of Old Bay seasoning.”
Murray is expecting a large turnout for these events; in fact, each event reached max capacity last year, and this year’s Clam Bake is already sold out. Due to the demand, it would be easy for Murray to sell more tickets, however he explained, “I want everyone to have space to move around, and have the right amount of service for each guest; to have that right feel for the event. A lot of times beer events don’t get the luxury treatment – we want to make sure this is a high end craft beer experience.”
While many will come for the beer pairing or to enjoy an evening of entertainment with a group of friends, Murray says, “Everything is really secondary to the food — the beer is always great, but the food and the menu is where we really try to blow your mind. Although there is all you can drink beer, with live grilling right in front of you, the food is really the show stealer. The presentation is truly impressive; the chef definitely puts his love into it. From there, the beer and the music complete the trifecta.”
Murray views the Craft & Que series as a way to continue the historic tradition of Normandy Farm, “This is about creating a great experience that’s memorable — something that you enjoy and want to bring a group of friends to…and making a tradition out of.” Tickets are available online on the Normandy Farm website http://www.normandyfarm.com; $45.95 for general admission (6 – 9 p.m.), or $50.95 for VIP access (5:30 – 9 p.m.). Cheers!

Columnist Matt Brasch is a beer enthusiast and a lifelong Montgomery County resident. For more, go to http://thebrewholder.com and follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at “The Brewholder.”

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