After caving for the first time and spending the night in a hotel because of a pretty heavy snow storm, we made our way to Stewart’s Brewing Company in Bear, DE on Thursday, 3/27/2014. The first thing we did when we walked in was order a flight of their beers, then head brewer Ric Hoffman sat with us while we indulged. Afterwards, he showed us around and went over everything that makes the brewery unique.
On Wednesday 3/26/14 we made our way through the slushy streets to Milford for an afternoon visit to Mispillion River Brewing. The brewery is the creation of Eric Williams, whose vision came to fruition with the help and support of his wife, Megan, and two other couples, Don and Marti Brooks & Scott and Tammy Perlot. Eric, who had been homebrewing for years, was unfulfilled with his corporate job and confessed to his wife that he wanted to open a brewery. Following years of planning they got into the building this past May, brought Brewmaster Jared Barnes – with previous brewing experience at Southern Tier Brewing Co – into the fold in August, and held their grand opening in November with eight beers on tap. The potentially risky decision to open a brewery was immediately rewarded when about 400 people showed up for the opening night, with a repeat showing the following night. One of the first things Jared did when hired was tell Eric that they needed to purchase a one barrel pilot system. It wasn’t in the original budget but they made it happen and Eric credits that step with helping get the brewery opened a few months early. The other brewer, Ryan Maloney, hit it off with Eric at a local homebrewer’s meeting and started off as a volunteer. After many months of unparalleled dedication, Ryan earned his spot on the team.
On Monday, 3/24/14 we got back to the grind again when we drove down to Salisbury, MD and spent our afternoon at Evolution Craft Brewing Company. While there, we spoke to founder Tom Knorr and head brewer Geoff DeBisschop who told us that Evolution originally opened up in Delmar, DE in 2009, but since they had 128% growth in their first year, they outgrew the original facility quickly. The location we visited was opened up in April of 2012 in an old ice plant where all of the rooms used to be kept at 15 below zero.
It ended up only being a 20 minute drive over to our friend Teddy’s place, who is a guy I have known almost my entire life. We grew up in the same neighborhood and used to ride the same school bus as kids. It had been about 12 years since I last saw him, so we spent that first night catching up on things and talking to his girlfriend Kelsey as the snow continued to come down outside. By the time we woke up the next morning, there was over 6 inches of snow outside, so Bluejacket got in touch with us to reschedule our visit to Wednesday (it was Monday). Because of that, we spent the whole day with Teddy and Kelsey working on our laptops, hanging out, playing bananagrams, watching jeopardy, and of course trying out some good beers. We did the same thing there with them the next day, then said our goodbyes Wednesday morning.
Our trip to Bluejacket in DC was pretty sweet, and afterwards we drove up to Frederick, MD to visit with Flying Dog. That night we stayed with Caroline, a woman we got in touch with through Couchsurfing, and her boyfriend Richard. She was super quirky and fun, so we had a good time watching TV and talking about all kinds of things (including the Simpsons, hell yea). In the morning, she fed and caffeinated us and then we took off to head into Baltimore. In Baltimore, we went to an awesome library known as the George Peabody library to get some writing done, and then went to two breweries. The first of which, The Brewer’s Art, offered us tickets to go see the premiere of Brewmore that night, which is a documentary about brewing in Maryland. We went to see it that night and absolutely loved the film which gave us insights into the area that we otherwise would not have got, and after the film they actually announced that we were in the theater, so people came up to us afterwards to ask about our trip.
We spent some time in the lobby drinking local craft beer and talking with people, who told us that a lot of them were going over to Liam Flynn’s to keep the night going. We joined them for about an hour, and then made our way to Jason’s apartment, who is a friend of Sarah, the girl we stayed with in Savannah that is a friend of our friend Alex. So yea, he was the friend of a friend of a friend and opened up his apartment to us. We watched The Wizard that night with him and his roommate, which is such a God awful movie that I couldn’t keep my eyes off of it. I passed out before it ended, and the next morning we went to Max’s Taphouse to try a few good beers, and then made our way to Heavy Seas Beer/ Clipper City Brewing, and then drove across the bridge that connects the western part of Maryland to the Eastern Shore.
Haggis’ dad’s friend Tom and his wife Linda live over in the Eastern Shore, and that is where we spent 2 nights getting caught up on writing. Haggis and Tom are both huge KU fans, so I sat there awkwardly as they watched their team lose to Stanford. Ouch. But on a good note, I finally got completely caught up for the first time since we left, and Brandon almost did as well. We also spent a night hanging out with Kevin, who is going to open up Chester River Brewing Company soon, so he took us over to his future site and we talked about his endeavor. Tom and Linda were overwhelmingly kind to us while we were there and it was hard to leave, but we needed to make our way south to visit 2 breweries that day!
Our first visit that day was to Evolution Craft (which was pretty damn awesome) and then we drove over to Burley Oak in Berlin, MD. We spent most of the night there chillin’ with their staff and listening to live music while a charity event was going on. Our couchsurfing hosts, Sarah and Andrew, met us there as well, so we followed them to their place, stayed the night with them, and they made us coffee the next morning while we got to know them. Once we left, we went back to Burley Oak to help them mash-in a batch of their beer called ‘Merica and then made our way out to see the Atlantic Ocean. It was cold as hell, so we took pictures of the ocean, promptly got back in the van, and crossed the border into Delaware.
Dogfish Head’s brewpub was our first visit of the day, then we went to the production facility where we went on a small, 5-person tour of their impressive facilities. It was not snowing when we got there, but by the time the tour was done there was a solid amount of snow that had fallen, so rather than sleep in the van as we had planned, we camped up in a Hampton Inn last night. That’s where we are now and we’re going to Mispillion River Brewing today! Until next time…