When thinking of craft beer in Delaware, probably your first and only thought is Dogfish Head Craft Brewery in Rehoboth Beach and Milton. After opening its doors in 1995, making “off-centered beers for off-centered people”, Dogfish Head has blazed a trail throughout the industry, pushing the envelope with original brews — everything from IPAs, to the uber unique Midas Touch, crafted from a recipe found in the dna scrapings from earthenware found in King Midas’ crypt. Each year, they take it further with collaborations and new experimental recipes.
Recently, there have been a number of up-start breweries and brewpubs making some noise in America’s first state. Some of these brewers have been putting out beers since 1995 as well.
Stewarts Brewing Company in the northern town of Bear is the first brewpub in Newcastle County and has won many awards, including their first gold medal in 2003 at the Great American Beer Festival for Stewart’s barleywine.
Also in the northern part of the state is Iron Hill Brewery and Restaurant. They won 6 medals (3 Gold, 1 Silver, 2 Bronze) at the World Beer Cup 2010, including top honors for large brewpub. They have been recognized for awards since 1997, one year after opening their first location. Since then they have spread to 6 locations in Delaware and neighboring Pennsylvania. Featured beers to look for are Raspberry Torte, an American-style sour ale, and Russian Imperial Stout, a British-style Imperial stout.
Moving further south along Route 1, there are a couple of breweries that share space as well as owners — Coastal Brewing Company, Old Dominion Brewing Company and Fordham Brewing Company have all taken different paths to get to the same place in Dover.
Dominion started in Loudoun County, VA as “Old Dominion” in 1989. In 2009, it moved to a larger facility and is now focused on brewing operations only. Many of their brews have won awards at both the GABF and WBC, most notably is the Octoberfest.
Fordham Brewery, also a Coastal Brewing owned brewery, actually started brewing beers in the port city of Annapolis, MD, at the request of Queen Anne to Benjamin Fordham in 1703. Nearly 300 years forward in 1995 and those beers were resurrected at the Ram’s Head Tavern in downtown Annapolis, and later in Baltimore, and Savage, MD. A few years later, the brewery, still supplying the pubs as before mentioned, moved its facilities to the Dover location it is at now. Featured beers are Helles Lager and Scotch Ale.
Next, keep going south, this time on Route 113 and Route 9, and you find the baby of the bunch, 16 Mile Brewery, in Georgetown. It gets it name from its location. Back in the day, the region now known as Georgetown, was Pettijohns Old Field, and it was 16 miles from anywhere. Merchants would conduct business there because of the central location. Founded in 2009, 16 Mile Brewery has three distinct ales that “represent” the taste of Delmarva. What sets them apart from the rest other than the breweries is the aluminum bottles each brew comes in. They won a bronze award for the bottle-art and design of Amber Sun Ale at the 2009 CanMaker magazine awards.
Lastly, in the extreme southern part of the state in Delmar is Evolution Craft Brewing Company, established 2009. They have a main line series with the five traditional brews. They also do a seasonal line, and have branched off into a barrel-aged series as well. In the main room, where then tastings take place, tasters are surrounded by cask after cask of those special aged brews waiting to be tapped. Another of their specialties is designing the beers to pair well with food.
In closing, there are numerous choices when looking for craft and microbreweries in the state of Delaware. Don’t let tradition and popularity prevent you from experiencing the entire line-up.