Your Ultimate Guide to Delaware's Buzzing Booze Scene
The Delaware Beer, Wine & Spirits Trail highlights the state’s blooming spirits and beer industry.
Painted Stave Distilling in Smyrna makes gin and vodka, including a scrapple-flavored vodka.
To those who love creative beers, Delaware is best known as the home of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, which opened in Rehoboth in 1995. Since then, a bevy of local breweries and brewpubs have tapped the craving for craft beer. But lagers and ales aren’t the only libations that make Delaware a destination. The state is home to wineries, distilleries and a meadery—and more are on the way.
To help visitors and residents sip their way through the state, the Delaware Tourism Office in 2010 launched the Delaware Wine & Ale Trail. It was recently rechristened the Delaware Beer, Wine & Spirits Trail to reflect the addition of distilleries.
The self-guided trail now has 20 stops, including newbie The Crooked Hammock Brewery in Lewes, which opened in 2015. Co-owner Rich Garrahan has noticed that many customers mention it while they are enjoying a Hammock Saison or Backyard Brown Ale. “The Crooked Hammock is all about the beach escape,” he says. “So a wine-and-beer-filled trail that starts in the north and ends on our doorstep has obviously been great for business.”
The trail website also serves as a one-stop source of information. “It’s very easy for visitors to look up a [brewery],” says Eric Williams, co-owner of Mispillion River Brewing in Milford. “We see people with passports all the time, and many people just want to experience Delaware’s blooming spirits and beer industry.”
Since the trail started, more than 6,500 people have downloaded a trail “passport,” which lists the locations, says Michael Chesney, the marketing and public relations coordinator for the Delaware Tourism Office. “It’s our most popular of the five Trails of Discovery.”
Download the passport at visitdelaware.com/bwst, visit 10 or more stops and note the code on the passport to earn a prize. While the perk is welcome, the real reward is sampling the wares and hearing the colorful stories behind theses businesses.
Here’s some information about the stops on the trail, working from north to south. For hours, tour times and tips, go to visitdelaware.com.
Iron Hill Brewery started in Newark in 1996 and it now has 12 restaurants in the Greater Philadelphia area.
NEW CASTLE COUNTY
Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant
Iron Hill started with the Newark location in 1996. Today it has 12 restaurants in the Greater Philadelphia area. The food receives as much applause as the beers. | 620 Justison St., Wilmington, 472-2739; 147 E. Main St., Newark, 266-9000, ironhillbrewery.com
Pizza by Elizabeths
Known for its famous Elizabeth-themed pizzas—consider the McGovern, Boop and Montgomery—this Greenville restaurant also brews beer. | 3801 Kennett Pike, Wilmington, 654-4478, pizzabyelizabeths.com
Liquid Alchemy Beverages
Delaware’s first meadery makes honey wines with eclectic ingredients, such as Thai peppers and blood oranges. | 28 Brookside Center, Wilmington, 438-0252, liquidalchemybeverages.com
Bellefonte Brewing Company
Bellefonte is a new nano-brewery, which means the owners want to keep things small and focus on quality not quantity. Bellefonte’s taproom has eight regular production beers and two taps dedicated to rotational beers. | 2605 Old Capitol Trail, Wilmington, 757-4971, bellefontebrewingco.com
Argilla Brewing Company at Pietro’s Pizza
The go-to place for a slice since 1978, Pietro’s Pizza added a 1.5-barrel brewery to the mix. The small size gives the brewers the opportunity to experiment, so look for some creative craft beers in addition to favorites such as Wavy Grainy, a toasted amber ale. | 2667 Kirkwood Hwy., Newark, 731-8200, argillabrewing.com
Stewart’s Brewing Company
A pioneer on Delaware’s craft brewing scene, Stewart’s opened in 1995. The brewpub underwent renovations to celebrate its 20th anniversary so customers can sip American-, German-, English- and Belgian-style beers in style. | 219 Governor’s Place, Bear, 836-2739
Blue Earl Brewing
Blue Earl Brewing serves up beers inspired by music—think Body & Soul IPA—and musicians. Not surprisingly, Blue Earl hosts live music events. | 210 Artisan Drive, Smyrna, 653-2337, blueearlbrewing.com
Brickworks Brewing and Eats
Brickworks, which opened in 2016, combines the talents of Delaware restaurateur Kevin Reading of Abbott’s Grill and brewer Eric Williams of Mispillion River Brewing. | 230 S. DuPont Blvd., No. 1, Smyrna, 508-2523, brickworksde.com
Painted Stave Distilling
Located in a former cinema, Painted Stave makes Silver Screen Vodka as well as Candy Manor Gin, named for a legendary house of ill repute. Delaware life and lore often take the stage here. There is even a scrapple-flavored vodka. | 106 W. Commerce St., Smyrna, 653-6834, paintedstave.com
Fordham & Dominion Brewing Company
Born in Annapolis, Fordham Brewing moved to Dover in 2003. Meanwhile, Old Dominion Brewing Co. was founded in 1989 in Ashburn, Va. The breweries joined forces in 2007, and the First State benefits from their consolidated operations. | 1284 McD Drive, Dover, 678-4810, fordhamanddominion.com
Pizzadili Vineyard and Winery
Two Italian brothers founded this winery, which sits on a picturesque piece of land with a pond. It’s a popular setting for weddings. | 1683 Peach Basket Road, Felton, 284-9463, pizzadiliwinery.com
Harvest Ridge Winery and Rebel Seed Cidery
A rural oasis near Dover, Harvest Ridge makes wines that have won Tasters Guild International Competition awards. Rebel Seed is Delaware’s first cidery. | 447 Westville Road, Marydel, 343-9437, harvestridgewinery.com
Mispillion River Brewing
Mispillion River Brewing creates high quality beers with a high whimsy content. People crave Holy Crap! (an imperial red ale) and Not Today Satan IPA. | 255 Mullet Run St., 491-6623, mispillionriverbrewing.com
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery in Milton has become a destination for craft beer aficionados.
Salted Vines Vineyard and Brewey
The newest winery and event facility in Delaware offers both indoor and outdoor spaces to accommodate large and small celebrations. With a wide variety of wines ranging from sweet to dry, there’s something to fit everyone’s palate. | 32512 Blackwater Road, Frankford, 436-1500, fenwickwinecellars.com
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Dogfish Head, which has expanded multiple times over the years, is headquartered in Milton. Hopheads flock here to tour the brewery, sample beers in the tasting room and play corn hole and bocce. Dogfish Head also has a distillery. | 6 Cannery Village Center, Milton, 684-1000, dogfish.com
Nassau Valley Vineyards
Delaware’s first winery is a destination for both coastal residents and visitors. It’s minutes from Del. 1 yet the landscape is peaceful and pastoral. It’s a favorite site for weddings and other events. | 32165 Winery Way, Lewes, 645-9463, nassauvalley.com
Beach Time Distilling
On your way to downtown Lewes, take a detour and stop at the tasting room for a sip of “leisurely refined” spirits. The owners don’t rush the natural fermentation process, which leads to a smooth tasting result. | 32191 Nassau Road, Lewes, 644-2850, beachtimedistilling.com
Crooked Hammock Brewery
Since opening in late 2015, this brewpub has proven popular partly because of the expansive beer garden, which features a playground and games. Then, of course, there is the beer. Shoobie, a blond ale, salutes late 19th-century tourists who traveled by train with a shoebox lunch. | 36707 Crooked Hammock Way, Lewes, 644-7837, crookedhammockbrewery.com
16 Mile Brewing
In the 1700s, Delaware’s decision-makers decided to move the county seat of Sussex County from Lewes. The growing population in the western part of the county found it too hard to reach the coast. A field now known as Georgetown was selected because it was considered “16 miles from anywhere” in the county. The brewery, which opened in 2009, plays up its roots with product names such as Inlet India Pale Ale, named for the Indian River Inlet. | 413 S. Bedford St., Georgetown, 253-8816, 16milebrewery.com
Big Oyster Brewery
Big Oyster Brewery is part of the Fins family, which also includes Fins Ale House and Raw Bar, located next door, and Fins Ale House and Raw Bar in downtown Rehoboth Beach. A third location, which will focus on Big Oyster, is underway on Kings Highway in Lewes. The brewery was a natural addition for an oyster house. Evidently, after a hard day’s work, dockworkers asked each other to go for an “oyster stout,” which back then meant oyster and a beer. | 19269 Coastal Hwy., Rehoboth Beach, 227-3467, bigoysterbrewery.com
Delaware Distilling Company
Come for the spirits. Stay for the food. Delaware Distilling Company is a full-service restaurant with entertainment. | 18693 Coastal Hwy., Rehoboth Beach, 645-8273, delawaredistillingcompany.com
Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats
The granddaddy of esoteric brews started in this restaurant, which is undergoing renovations but is open. It’s also a renowned live music venue. Check out Chesapeake & Maine next door, the brewpub’s sister restaurant. | 320 Rehoboth Ave., Rehoboth Beach, 226-BREW, dogfish.com
Dewey Beer Company
The beach is only a short walk from this brewpub, which means you can savor suds and surf. | 2100 Coastal Hwy., Dewey Beach, 227-1182, deweybeerco.com
3rd Wave Brewing
Two women with a shared passion for the beach founded the brewery in 2012 in the former digs of Evolution Craft Brewing Company, which moved to Salisbury, Md. There are five house beers, including Sandstorm Belgian Tripel, and a host of seasonal offerings. | 501 N. Bi-State Blvd., Delmar, 907-0423, 3rdwavebrewingco.com