Small Wonder, Big Beer Scene

Pam George

Pam George

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Delaware’s breweries each stand out in a crowd, and all contribute to the state’s bottom line

Kathy and Jim Berg of Bear believe in being prepared. The two beer fanatics always keep a growler in the car in the event they need a refill at a brewery or brewpub.

“Jim and I have been to every brewery and brewpub in Delaware,” Kathy Berg proudly says. “It’s not unusual for us to take a Saturday afternoon road trip to visit a couple of them.”

They are frequent visitors to many local breweries. With others, it’s a one-and-done visit. “They all offer beer, but each has its own personality,” she explains.

The Bergs aren’t the only ones who are keeping the state’s breweries in business. Since 2010, when the state tourism office debuted its self-guided Delaware Beer, Wine & Spirits Trail, the website has received nearly 10,000 applications for passports. (Users who log codes from 10 or more locations on the passport receive a prize.)

The passport smartphone app, released in October 2017, has been downloaded at four times the rate of the paper version.

All that beer consumption is good for the local economy.

According to the Brewers Association, the craft-brewing industry has a $318 million annual impact on Delaware.

There are 2.9 Delaware breweries per capita (100,000 adults age 21-plus), and state breweries produce 292.741 barrels per year, which places Delaware 21st in overall state rankings. Pennsylvania is first with 3.724 million barrels. However, Delaware beats Pennsylvania in the number of gallons consumed per year: 12.6 compared to Pennsylvania’s 12.

Like the Bergs, many people like to check out the brewing scene. The Brewers Association reports that in 2017, the average craft beer drinker visited 3.5 breweries near his or her home and 2.5 breweries within a two-hour drive.

And for those who insist that Delaware has too many breweries, aficionados maintain that there aren’t enough. As Berg puts it: “Bring on the breweries!”

In Delaware, most breweries go beyond merely serving the suds. In alphabetical order, here are some examples of how the Small Wonder’s breweries stand apart.

3rd Wave Brewing Co.
A microbrewery, 3rd Wave is in Evolution Craft Brewing Co.’s former site. (Evolution is now in Salisbury, Md.)
Distinctive difference: Women own the brewery. Despite its Delmar location, the beach is the inspiration behind the brews—including Beach Juice Berliner Weiss. The brewery frequently has food trucks, live music and trivia nights.
501 N. Bi-State Blvd., Delmar • 907-0423
3rdwavebrewingco.com

16 Mile Brewing Co.
Georgetown reportedly became Sussex County’s capital because it was “16 miles from anywhere” in the county. Since 16 Mile opened its doors in 2009, the beer has traveled a lot farther and into all three counties.
Distinctive difference: The six flagship beers have a local slant.  Blues’ Golden Ale, for instance, is named for the Delaware Blues, who fought in the Revolutionary War. Food trucks park outside the tavern, and there are regular special events, including a Wednesday farmers market, happy hours and live music.
413 South Bedford St., Georgetown • 253-8816
16milebrewery.com

Argilla Brewing Co. at Pietro’s Pizza
A nano-brewery with a 1.5-barrel system, Argilla has up to eight of its beers on tap, as well as guest beers.
Distinctive difference: The pizza, of course. The restaurant also hosts the Sin City Band every Monday from 6 to 8 p.m.
2667 Kirkwood Hwy., Newark • 731-8200
argillabrewing.com

Photo Anthony Santoro

Bellefonte Brewing Co.
This nano-brewery has 16 beers in regular production. Visit the website to see what’s on tap.
Distinctive difference: Barstools are arranged around barrel tables in the light-filled slender taproom, which you can book for special events.
3605 Old Capitol Trail, Unit C8,
Wilmington • 407-6765
bellefontebrewingco.com

Big Oyster Brewery
The beach brewery—which brews East Coast and West Coast IPAs; Bavarian and Belgian wheat beers; and German and American lagers—last year got a restaurant of its own in a new building. The brews, however, have been around long enough to gain a reputation; you can find them in restaurants throughout the state.
Distinctive difference: The brewery is part of Fins Hospitality Group, which also owns Fins Ale House & Raw Bar and Claws Seafood House, and the seafood dishes are stellar. However, don’t miss the tomato-basil soup with mini grilled cheese. The tented backyard has ping pong and corn hole games.
1007 Kings Hwy., Lewes • 644-2621
Bigoysterbrewery.com

Blue Earl Brewing
Ronnie “Blue” Earl Price’s personality is all over this brewery, which has a laid-back vibe and soulful setting. The taproom is known as “the Juke.”
Distinctive difference: The live entertainment underscores the blues theme. There are food trucks on weekends. Tours, limited to 12 people, include a souvenir glass.
210 Artisan Dr., Smyrna • 653.2337
blueearlbrewing.com

Brick Works Brewings & Eats
Smyrna’s much-needed brewpub is also a family-friendly restaurant. The beers have such whimsical names as Romeo Must Rye, a dry IPA.
Distinctive Difference: Brick Works is a joint effort between Eric Williams of Mispillion River Brewing and serial restaurateur Kevin Reading, the talent behind Espuma, Nage and Abbott’s Grill. They teamed up with Ryan Maloney to open the brewpub in 2016. A second location will open in Long Neck.
230 S. Dupont Blvd., Smyrna • 508-2523
brickworksde.com

Photo courtesy of VisitDelaware.com

Crooked Hammock Brewery
Part of La Vida Hospitality Group, which also owns Big Chill Beach Club and Fork + Flask at Nage, this brewery is hopping from afternoon into evening.
Distinctive difference: The backyard beach picnic theme includes a beer garden, games and a play set for kids. There is a fence, so you can let them play while you partake. There is a farmers’ market on the property on Wednesday mornings in summer. Moreover, there’s plenty of parking.
36707 Crooked Hammock Way, Lewes • 644-7837
Crookedhammockbrewery.com

Photo Anthony Santoro

Dew Point Brewing Co.
The family-run business benefits from the talents of brewer Cody Hoffman, who’s worked at Triumph Brewing in New Hope, Pa., and Twin Lakes Brewing Co. He also studied brewing in England.
Distinctive difference: The brewery, which specializes in Belgian-style beers, is located on the old Garrett Snuff Mill site in Yorklyn, which was built in 1901. Climb the stairs to the tasting room. You can also take your beer to the green space outside. There’s no food, but you can bring your own. Check the calendar for music and food truck visits.
2878 Creek Rd., Yorklyn • 235-8429
dewpointbrewing.com

Dewey Beer Co.
Don’t come for the shots and orange crushes. This Dewey Beach establishment has some of the best beer at the beach. The on-site seven-barrel brewing system is visible from the taproom-like bar area. The dining room is on the other side.
Distinctive difference: In summer, the garage-door-like windows roll up. The action on Coastal Highway becomes the entertainment. The menu changes regularly, and breakfast runs from 9 a.m. to noon on Sunday.
2100 Coastal Hwy., Dewey Beach • 227-1182
Deweybeerco.com 

Photo courtesy of Dogfish Head Brewery

 

 

Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
The heart of Delaware’s largest brewery is in Milton, where there is a bevy of new tours, including a close-up view of the distillery.
Distinctive difference: Other than its Dogfish Head beer? The complex has a large tasting room, and there’s a restaurant under construction. Bocce courts encourage visitors to linger. The steampunk treehouse, which was built for Burning Man, is part of one of the brewery tours. Book online.
6 Cannery Village Center, Milton • 684-1000
dogfish.com

Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats
The sleek new building with its fishbowl-like windows is hard to miss. A courtyard replaces the original structure and links the restaurant to its sister, Chesapeake & Maine.
Distinctive difference: There is now an expanded brewing operation on site for the experimental beers served in the brewpub. If they receive positive feedback from guests, they could enter a wider distribution. There’s also a distillery on site and a gift shop with beer and spirits.
320 Rehoboth Ave., Rehoboth Beach • 226-2739

Fordham & Dominion Brewing Co.
The brewery was initially two separate operations. Fordham began in 1995 as part of Rams Head Tavern in Annapolis. It moved to Dover in 2003 for better access to distribution as well as larger digs. Old Dominion was born in Ashburn, Va., in 1989. They merged in 2007.
Distinctive difference: Brewery tours are $5. It’s close to Blue Early Brewery and Painted Stave Distilling for a trip to all three. The brewery holds the annual R2Hop2 Beer and Music Festival in April.
1284 McD Dr., Dover • 678-4810
fordhamanddominion.com

Frozen Toes
This nano-brewery is located within Pizza by Elizabeths. The beers, produced in 13-gallon batches, are only sold in the restaurant.
Distinctive difference: You can enjoy PBE’s cuisine. If your friends want a cocktail, wine or another type of beer, they can have it.
3801 Kennett Pike, Wilmington • 654-4478
pizzabyelizabeths.com

Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant
Founded in Newark in 1996, Iron Hill has expanded to include 16 locations, including the recently opened site in Rehoboth Beach.
Distinctive difference: There are frequent beer dinners, and the Newark site has held yoga classes. The restaurant has an extensive menu for family dining. The Riverfront site boasts water views.
620 Justison St., Wilmington Riverfront • 472-2739
147 E. Main St., Newark • 266-9000
19815 Coastal Hwy., Rehoboth Beach • 260-8000
Ironhillbrewery.com

Midnight Oil Brewing Co.
The benefit of hard work—to the point of “burning the midnight oil”—is the reoccurring theme behind this business. A tasty brew is a reward for a job well done.
Distinctive difference: The hours, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., are more expansive than those in many small breweries. The brewery is active.  A Low Country boil is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 4. There are six mainstay beers, and most brews stick to the theme. Consider Luna, a chocolate stout brewed with strawberries, or Sweet Dreams Doppelbock.
674 Pencader Dr., Newark • 286-7641
midnightoilbrewing.com

Mispillion River Brewing
Born out of co-founder Eric Williams’ mid-life crisis, Mispillion opened in 2013, and its products—packaged in colorful cans— are now found throughout the state.
Distinctive difference: The beers have eye-catching artwork and names, such as Not Today Satan, an IPA, Reach Around IPA, and Space Otter, a pale ale. There’s live music at the brewery on weekends and $5 flights on Thursdays. A brewpub is in the works.
255 Mullett Run St., Milford • 491-6623
mispillionriverbrewing.com

Revelation Craft Brewing Co.
This intimate brewery is in a small industrial area just off Route 1 and the Junction and Breakwater Trail, which runs from Lewes to Rehoboth. Drive or bike here.
Distinctive difference: The blends of ingredients can include a lot of fruits and spices. Tangerine Cream Dream, a sour ale, has tangerines, soursop fruit, and vanilla beans. The brewery is unafraid to tackle a variety of malts and hops. Mother-in-Law, an American IPA, is made with hops grown by the brewer’s—you guess it—mother-in-law.
19841 Central St., Rehoboth Beach • 212-5674
revbeer.com

Stewart’s Brewing Co.
New Castle County’s first brewpub, founded in 1995, has survived the ebb and flow of the craft beer movement. In addition to its full-time house brews, Stewart’s produces 40 seasonal offerings, including Orange Crushable IPA.
Distinctive difference: Given the brewpub’s age, it’s doing something right. “We’ve kind of reinvented ourselves,” says owner Al Stewart, noting the pub’s family-friendly resign three years ago. “And we’re having a ton of fun with the food and our beer.” The 150-seat restaurant boasts a 30-seat bar. Brunch is on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
219 Governor’s Place, Bear • 836-2739
stewartsbrewingcompany.com

Stitch House Brewery
The eagerly awaited addition to Market Street is happily both a hipster hangout and a place where older generations can meet and greet over tasty beers and warm pretzels. The atmosphere is industrial chic with brick walls, white tile and exposed ductwork.
Distinctive difference: Hearty sandwiches—fried bologna, anyone?—can hold their own against the approachable beers. The kitchen uses individual portion skillets for nosh-able dishes. Try the meatballs with mozzarella and parmesan.
829 N. Market St., Wilmington • 250-4280
Stitchhousebrewery.com

Twin Lakes Brewery Co.
Twin Lakes is no longer on the Greenville property that had two lakes, but the Greenville Pale Ale remains a staple on the shelves of Delaware liquor stores. Other year-round beers include Blue Water Pilsner and Caesar Rodney Golden Ale.
Distinctive difference: Seasonal selections include such creative beers as French Toast Winter Warmer and Kettle Soured Imperial Stout, which weighs in at 10.5 percent ABV. Flat-screen TVs and a PA system make the tasting room a unique location for meetings.
405 East Marsh Ln., Suite 7, Newport • 995-2337
twinlakesbrewery.com

Volunteer Brewing
The tiny brewery is tucked behind the Middletown Volunteer Fire Company and keeps select hours. Check the Facebook page.
Distinctive difference: Small batch beers like Dead Poets IPA and 301 IPA firmly root the brewery in Middletown, and the brewery is active in local events.
120 W. Main St., Middletown • 464-0822
volunteerbrewing.com

Wilmington Brew Works
Craig Wensell, formerly of Bellefonte Brewing Co., is one of the brains behind the city’s first production brewery since 1954. Owners hoped for a June opening.
Distinctive difference: The business occupies the former site of the Harper-Thiel Electroplating Co. Although a restored brownfield, the Spanish architecture—complete with a terracotta roof—is attractive and unusual for the area. There’s an outdoor area, and food is part of the plan in the future.
3129 Miller Rd., Wilmington • 757-4971
wilmingtonbrewworks.com

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