Day Trippin': Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats
Published: Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, September 7, 2011 13:09
It's inevitable that as wide-eyed, bushy-tailed college freshmen, case races, solo cups and good ole' Natty Light became synonymous with the word beer. But having sampled my fair share of diverse brews, I've learned that quality, most definitely, trumps quantity. This realization brought me to the beaches of Delaware (not "the shore," as my Delaware friends scathingly pointed out once I let the Jersey-ism slip) where an establishment has been charming residents of the Diamond State and beer-drinkers around the nation since 1995–the Dogfish Head Craft Brewery.
The brewery, tours and eatery here are the east-coast answer to wine-tasting on the west coast. The microbrewery in Milton, Del. offers free tours and free beer tasting Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
That's a pretty sweet deal, but for a full-on day trip I recommend making the trek to Rehoboth Beach and visiting the Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats brewpub and distillery.
The food and prices are as welcoming as the clientele. Laughter abounded throughout the eatery as families and friends chowed down on the hearty bar food and sampled beer for only $1.50. The establishment's mantra "off-centered ales for off-centered people," holds true with the décor of the brewpub as well. Candles are encased in what seems to be upside-down lava lamps illuminate hardwood tables and vintage pieces adorn the wall, including a weathered mill saw and black and white photography.
The upstairs of the brewpub is also home to a spirits distillery, and, as manager Matt Patton dubs it, an "experimental distillery" on the ground floor, where employees process rum, ales and other drinks. Patton, 29, originally from Columbia, S.C., describes the distillation process as concentrating a liquid to its essence. Old Coca-Cola canisters house the spirits in the spirits distillery. Such rum would be ideal for the fanciest of pirates, with one blend aged with coriander, parsley and orange peels.
Another spirit wafting from a neighboring contained was the Brown Honey Rum, a liquor featuring the flavors of American oat chips and wildflower honey with a molasses base.
As I learned, the beer distillation process relies mainly on one element—time. First, barley is placed in hot water to manipulate the grain enzymes, forming the beginnings of the beer. Then hops are added. Hops, as Patton explains, are vines that naturally grow in Oregon and in the Pacific Northwest. Conveniently for the Dogfish brew crew, hops also grow on the side of the brewpub, scaling the awnings like ivy. These hops create the bitter taste of beer, lending a floral or grassy flavor while also acting as a preservative.
There are 35 different beers made at the Milton brewery and at least 15 or more made at the brewpub in Rehoboth, Patton says. Some of the beers that are brewed in the experimental distillery at the beach have not been distributed outside of the restaurant.
One such beer, the Tweason'ale, is flavored with sorghum plants and local strawberries. Snag this delicacy while the gettins' still good!
You don't need much experience to gain appreciation for a master-brewed draft. Grab a beer, lay out on the beach and learn a thing or two about beer that will impress the next person you see manning a keg of Miller Lite.