Blue Earl ready for first Food Truck Throwdown

BlueEarl1-MCleryRonnie Price of Blue Earl Brewing in Smyrna brewpub. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

SMYRNA — For Ron Price, it’s all about blues, barbecue and brews.

He’s got the blues and brews covered at his Blue Earl Brewing Company. And this Saturday, the barbecue and other eats will be in full force as well.

The first Blue Earl’s Food Truck Throwdown will take place Saturday from noon to 9 p.m. on the grounds of the Smyrna microbrewery.

Nine food trucks will compete for the Blue Earl People’s Choice Award and a panel of food experts will judge signature dishes prepared by each food truck for a chance to win the 2017 Blue Earl Cup.

Mr. Price, founder and brewmaster at Blue Earl, says food trucks and microbreweries have been in tandem for quite a while now.

“We have food trucks here regularly. They’ve sort of become the wave of the craft beer restaurant industry that we’re seeing across the country,” Mr. Price said.

“A lot of microbreweries (such as Blue Earl) don’t have kitchens. We’re a taproom. Preparing beer and food together has been around since the beginning of time and food trucks have filled that gap.”

Mr. Price said the food truck renaissance started on the West Coast and quickly spread eastward.

“They are big in New York, Philly and D.C., which has a whole block of food trucks. Now they are really found on lots of Main Streets in Anytown, USA,” he said.

From left, Ron Price, Jamie Price and brewer Rob Pfeiffer check out their latest creation at Blue Earl. They will debut a new beer Saturday, “How Sweet it Is,” a pineapple/orange IPA on draft. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

“We found ourselves with a need for food trucks when we opened in May of 2015 and now they’ve become a staple of what we do here.”

Saturday’s rain-or-shine event will feature eight food trucks from Delaware and Crave Eatery from Elkton, Maryland, serving up cuisine from Mediterranean to Mexican, grilled cheese to barbecue and homemade Southern comfort food.

The Delaware food trucks are Delicious Craving, Nothing Better, Grub Burger, Mojo Loco, Truck It, Plum Pit, Rebel Cove and Thyme to Eat.

Mr. Price said he based the idea for a food truck contest on Marydel’s Harvest Ridge Winery’s annual event, which drew 22 food trucks in April. The difference between the Harvest Ridge contest and Blue Earl’s is that Saturday’s event is free.

There will be a 50/50 raffle to benefit Citizens’ Hose Company No. 1 Inc. of Smyrna and a portion of the overall proceeds will benefit the Food Bank of Delaware.

“When I first posted the event on Facebook, it went nuts. Now we have about 1,800 people interested. I think the fact that it doesn’t cost anything is a big attraction,” he said.

Having the event in August made sense to Mr. Price.

“We host six outdoor events throughout the year and we had this gap that we needed to fill. There really isn’t a whole lot going on around here during this time. The beaches are great but if you’re not at the beach, this is a chance to get out and have something to do,” he said.

Along with the debut of the “How Sweet It Is” pineapple/orange IPA on draft, the Food Truck Throwdown will feature live music throughout the day.

Starting at 2 p.m., the Pennsylvania rock trio Buzzard Luck will perform, followed by Dover’s own indie blues band Hoochi Coochi at 4 p.m. and the local party group Best Kept Secret finishing things up beginning at 6.

Those under 21 are welcome to attend as long as they are accompanied by an adult. There will be outdoor games as well.

Dover indie blues band Hoochi Coochi will perform at Saturday’s Food Truck Throwdown.

A brewing business

The Food Truck Throwdown marks another chapter for the Blue Earl, which celebrated its second anniversary in May.

“We have had our struggles and growing pains like any new business, but overall, it’s been going really well,” Mr. Price said.

“This has become a very competitive business with microbreweries popping up all over the place. But if you talk to them, they are all doing well. It seems like the market is there but it may be nearing the saturation point if it hasn’t already. It’s been a challenge for us but our sales are growing. We aren’t by any means struggling.

“We bottled beer (Monday) and we were completely out of our two main brands, which is a testament to good sales.”

Blue Earl founder and brewmaster Ron Price regularly performs at the Smyrna brewpub. He played bass for bands up and down the East Coast for many years. (Submitted photo)

Blue Earl has three bottled brands that are distributed around the Delmarva region and, depending on the time of year, six to eight different brands available on draft, which includes the bottled ones.

“We have done a special release once a month but we haven’t done one the past two months and we are trying to catch up. We’ll start up again in September,” Mr. Price said.

Suds and songs

A musician his whole life, Mr. Price has played bass for bands up and down the East Coast, including Dr. Harmonica and Rockett 88. So naturally, he has made music a priority at Blue Earl.

“Music was a big passion for me. — always has been and still continues to be. I don’t travel around and perform anymore but I still get up on stage and play once a month at our open blues jams,” he said.

The Blue Earl plays host to primarily blues bands but the venue has branched out in recent months, hosting singer-songwriters on Thursday nights and an open jazz jam the first Sunday of every month, with the exception of August.

Starting Aug. 16, Blue Earl will host an open forum jam, which will consist of all genres. The regular Wednesday night jam will run from 7 to 10 p.m. The first one will be hosted by local blues trio Dirty Deal.

Blue Earl is at 210 Artisan Drive in Smyrna. For more information, visit www.blueearlbrewing.com.

Reach features editor Craig Horleman at chorl@newszap.com

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