Day Trippin': To the Old Dominion Brewery
Published: Monday, October 1, 2012
Updated: Monday, October 1, 2012 22:10
As my quest for finding new trips around Delaware became exceedingly challenging, I finally happened upon the Old Dominion Brewery website (cliché college student?) and to my excited amazement, I found out they offer tours of the factory. If the location, the $5 admission fee and the realization that I’d be finding out how beer is made, didn’t entice me enough, the five free samples of beer and a keepsake glass did.
As usual, when on day trips, one must bring along a companion. So I picked up a lonely hitchhiker who seemed like he could use some beer. And by lonely hitchhiker, I really just mean my friend Adam.
Taking the roundabout way to the brewery-because let’s face it, I’m terrible with directions-we found ourselves in the boonies right outside of Dover. And there it was, with its big Fordham Brewery sign. After listening to the tour guide, we learned that both Fordham and Dominion brewing companies are owned by the same CEO, thus they are brewed at the same place.
We entered the doors and saw a small bar with beer on tap where the tour guide was drafting some beer. He told us to head through another set of doors where we could pay and get our free glass and coins for the free beer. We were given two nice-sized glasses that read “Fordham & Dominion R2Hop2 Presents: Beer and Music Festival.” Among winning beer competitions, the brewery hosts its own events which showcase music and even some poetry reading while visitors sample the beer.
After getting our glasses, we were told to head back to the bar to get some beer before the tour, and I decided to try Copperhead Ale for my first sample. It was my favorite kind: dark and thick. “It tastes like Scotland” I said to Adam. All I needed was some Haggis, and it would be just like home!
I tried three more samples afterwards; the Octoberfest (I actually just stole a sip from Adam) which is a lighter beer, the Helles Lager and the Dominion Dortmunder Lager. All were delicious and strong. After just getting that last one, the tour was ready to start.
Then the guide took us through the brewery, method by method, explaining how each section worked. We were brought up to the steeping process area, down to the fermentation area and then to the bottling and kegging area. With his own snifter of beer in hand, he explained how the wheat is steeped in giant cisterns for quite some time. After steeping, it is taken to the fermentation area where even bigger cisterns stand with cone-shaped bottoms where yeast collects. Apparently, 50 barrels are filled for every one batch of beer.
During this time, the tour guide had gotten a little less than sober over his snifter and started fumbling over his words a bit and laughing at some of his own cheesy jokes. “It’s very easy to make very bad beer,” he said. We all chuckled, and he laughed himself.
He told us that in every gallon of beer there is a pound of sugar and pointed to this gargantuan white bag above our heads, with only the word “sugar” printed on it in bold lettering.
On our way out of the tour, the funniest thing I saw was the sign above our heads that read, “No alcohol beyond this point.” Naturally, Adam and I looked at our filled beer glasses and went beyond the point, laughing as we did so. I took a picture of the sign for your amusement.
We were then taken back to the bar to finish our free samples where I tried one last one- Barrel Stout which was another dark, thick beer. Among all other American Beers, Dominion and Fordham are my favorite. If you’re looking for well-brewed, solid beer this is the place for you. Good fun all around and an excellent deal!