With a passion for home brewing since his high school years, Jeff Johnson, UD ‘83 set out with his agricultural degree – along with his strong interests in science, fermentation, and business – to introduce a craft beer brand that would be closely associated with his alma mater and The First State.
In the mid 1980s, microbreweries were really in their infancy (at least, on the East Coast they were), and Jeff’s initial plan of opening his own Delaware-based brewery immediately hit a roadblock: brew pubs were not legal in Delaware at the time.
Jeff then sought out a brewery partner in Pennsylvania, to produce his brand. Meeting with a list of breweries – including Yuengling in 1988 – he ultimately partnered with the Lion Brewery in Wilkes-Barre, PA to produce Blue Hen Beer.
With the production infrastructure in-place, Jeff turned to friend-of-a-neighbor Kurt Kohl, to develop and illustrate the Blue Hen Beer logo and label artwork. A graphic artist and skilled traditional painter, Kurt worked off of Jeff’s “Continental Soldier stick figure sketches,” to finalize the now classic Revolutionary War-inspired label imagery. And of course, any Delaware native or University of Delaware student / alumnus will be familiar with the derivation of the Blue Hen as both the state bird and UD mascot.
Launched in May, 1990, Blue Hen Beer went on to win several awards for its Traditional Lager, Chocolate Porter, and Black & Tan varieties. In 1998, the brand was then sold to Philadelphia's Independence Brewing, which unfortunately ceased all operations two years later. And along with the brewery closure, the last bottles of Blue Hen Beer were produced.
Perhaps ahead of its time, the imagery and memories of Blue Hen Beer live on, as it celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2015!
Rather than choosing a single online vendor to print-on-demand and fulfill all of the merchandise, several separate vendors have been selected on a product-by-product basis, in the interest of print quality, product availability, and retail price. We encourage you to take advantage of the special offers and discount codes these vendors often post!
For customer service on all orders, please contact the respective vendors from which you ordered. Also feel free to contact Darren (aka, “Digger”) at delgrads(at)gmail.com with any questions, or for assistance if needed.
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