Tour Dogfish Head Brewery's Party Compound In Delaware
Anyone in America who's passionate about beer holds Dogfish Head Brewery in high esteem. And rightly so. The 20-year-old brand continues to build a growing following with their decidedly unconventional slate of suds, which includes some of the country's best-rated IPAs, "ancient" ales brewed following the oldest-known beer recipes in the world, and even special brews concocted in collaboration with musicians, like the Grateful Dead.
We got a look behind the scenes at their Delaware digs, home to their brewery, brewpub, and a brand new hotel, all within a few miles of each other near Rehoboth Beach.
Just a few miles down the road from where the whole operation started—a brew pub in '95—their current main brewing facility occupies a 100,000-square-foot former cannery. Demand kept growing, so they did, too.
Today, they're producing over 200,000 barrels per year.
Catch one of their daily tours and you'll get an up-close look at the whole operation. Here, one of their biggest sellers—the 60-minute IPA—nears the end of the 6-pack production line.
They have a stable of popular mainstays, but it's their limited edition and small-release stuff that deserves some of the most acclaim.
Consumers must agree, because in 2013 alone, they sold 1.2 million 750ml bottles of it.
One of the more exceptional 750ml offerings is Chateau Jiahu, which is the oldest known beer recipe brewed in the modern age. It's a strong spiced ale based on residue discovered in pottery found in the village of Jiahu, a settlement in ancient China. So what's in it? Rice flakes, wildflower honey, hawthorn fruit, and Chrysanthemum flowers, to name only a few.
Those Neolithic legends knew how to party.
If you visit, the experience extends well beyond the bottling lines. You can also sample up to four of their beers for free, fill up growlers to go, kick back a few pints, and take in the idyllic surroundings from this awesome observation deck. If you're up for it, there are also bocce and cornhole courts to showcase your lawn game prowess.
If you're down to hang around for a day or two, they opened a themed hotel—The Dogfish Inn—last year just a short drive from the brewery. Each of its 16 rooms are decked out with beer-centric amenities and design elements, including a custom Dogfish Woolrich blanket and screenprints of special edition beer labels.
Of course, it's also stocked with a mini fridge and barware, so you can easily enjoy whatever great brews you've returned with.
As you'd imagine, the vibe's incredibly low-key and casual. There's a full library curated by the City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco, which you can buy or borrow from.
You might be tempted to kick back and relax, but that would mean missing out on all the scenic coastal adventures at your fingertips. From hiking trails and bike paths to kayak and paddleboard rentals, you're going to want to get the hell outside.
When it's time for happy hour, get ready to kick it in back and brush up on those cornhole skills. Or, you know, just drink by the firepit because you're awful at cornhole.
Don't miss out on a meal at the original brew pub where it all started. It's a quick six miles from the Inn, in the heart of Rehoboth Beach.
Naturally, the menu's chock full of beer-infused eats, and you definitely won't leave thirsty.
They may not brew the beer here anymore, but the do still operate a small spirits still on the second floor which turns out small batches of rums, vodkas, and gins.
Distribution's extremely limited (for now), but you may soon be seeing more Dogfish Head hooch near you thanks to an expansion at the brewery, where they've installed a bigger still.
Until then, you can bide your time trying out all 26 of their current non-liquor offerings.
Joe McGauley is a senior editor at Supercompressor, and a Dogfish Head 90-Minute IPA evangelist.