Saturday, May 7, 2011
Greetings from Milton
Posted by Paul A. Ner
As Bull mentioned last month, I recently left Kansas City to take a job at Dogfish Head. I've been trying to find the time to put together a blog post about the move but it's been a little hectic. I decided to sit down this weekend and finally compose something. I figured most people won't care much about my move or the work I'm doing but they'd want to hear more about the brewery, so I put together a list of tips for anyone who might want to make the trip out to Milton or Rehoboth. I had always wanted to make the trip to Milton before taking this job with Dogfish, but it didn't seem feasible from KC and I knew next to nothing about the area. Hopefully this will help convince a few of you that it's not as much trouble as it seems and it's definitely worth it.
Not gonna lie, Milton and Rehoboth are a little out of the way... My first trip out here was through Philadelphia, an airport that I absolutely despise. After flying back to KC from Germany a few years ago there was a massive delay at PHL that caused me to have to spend the night in the terminal, it wasn't fun. Philadelphia is two hours from Milton by Google Maps, but it ends up being more like an hour and a half or less because speed limits in Delaware are entirely optional. I hear a lot of folks say they fly out of Baltimore because it's a smaller airport and there's less hassle for the same commute. I haven't flown out of Baltimore because I've found there are fairly regular direct flights out of Reagan in DC and it's only a 15 or 20 minute longer drive, totally worth it for a non-stop flight and you don't have to deal with Philadelphia.
Philadelpia definitely has it's charms though and it's got great beer places to make it worth visting at least once. The last time I went through Philly I made a point to stop by Monk's Cafe, it was awesome. I had a pot of mussels cooked in sour ale and they had Pliny the Younger on tap. It was cool to say I've had Pliny the Younger but it really didn't taste much different than the Elder, I honestly enjoyed the pint of Allagash White I got a lot more with the mussels. I hear DC has plenty of great beer spots too, but I haven't spent any time there just yet.
So let's say you've got your flight booked, now what? Milton will probably be your first stop, it's on the way from the airport (doesn't matter which one) to Rehoboth Beach. The brewery is a pretty neat place, it's on the south side of a little town about the size of Weston, MO. In fact, I think Milton and Weston have a lot in common, lots of antique shops and old homes. Milton has a few more restaurants and a grocery store but it's still tiny, it's not going to be the high point of your Off-Centered vacation.
The brewery is just that, a production brewery... you can take a tour and do a tasting, that sort of thing. There a few surprises on the tour that make it worth your time even if you've been on a thousand other brewery tours before. The tasting room/gift shop is the final stop, this is where you can pick up T-shirts, beer soap and glassware. The nice thing about Delaware is that you can buy beer directly from the brewery, and there's no sales tax (at all) so this will be the cheapest place to stock up. The only downside is that the state doesn't allow single 12oz bottles to be sold individually so if you want World Wide Stout or 120 Minute you'll have to commit to a 4pack, which isn't cheap... but totally worth it. Also worth noting, there's a ton of traffic through the tasting room so seasonal stuff doesn't last long. Aprihop was gone in about a week, so if arrive just past the release of a seasonal beer you might not be able to find it at the brewery.
Brewings and Eats
After you've had your fill of the brewery in Milton you'll probably want to head to Rehoboth Beach. The easiest way to get there? Just follow one of the other cars leaving the brewery... I bet 90% of the people leave the brewery and go straight to the pub. It's a short drive, maybe 10-15 minutes. It's short enough that brewery employees will go to the brewpub over their lunch break.
Rehoboth is an interesting area, it reminds me a lot of Branson and Panama Beach. It's definitely touristy, with a lot of kitschy seafood places, go-karts and a huge outlet mall. The outlet mall is actually worth noting because, again, there is no sales tax at all in Delaware. The first time I came out here I stopped at Banana Republic and picked up a jacket to take back to my fiance, it set me back a whole $6.
Downtown Rehoboth has a very mid-Atlantic Victoria feel to with it's boardwalk along the beach and old timey hotels. Four blocks or so from the boardwalk is the Dogfish brewpub. If you came out to Delaware to experience crazy beer, this will be the highlight of your trip. All of the standard Dogfish beers will be on tap along with the current seasonal and probably the previous seasonal as well. There will also be up to a dozen more brewpub exclusive beers on tap. These beers are brewed at the brewpub as tests or small batch collaborations between coworkers or other companies (not necessarily other brewers). While the beer at the brewpub is unparalleled, the food won't blow you aware. It's standard pub fare for the most part, with local ingredients and a bit more seafood. Don't get me wrong, some of the items are great (Shrimp Club Sandwich) but it's not a four star dining experience. It's for the best in the end though when you're drinking 18% ABV beers you'll be in the mood for a burger and onion rings.
Centered Ales for Centered People
Ok, so you've done all the Dogfish stuff there is to do, it's about a day's worth of activity, not something that will take a whole weekend... Now what? Well, if you haven't had your fill of craft beer yet there is plenty left to do. In Rehoboth there's a great little beer bar called the Pickled Pig Pub where they've got two dozen taps and a nice bottle list that will keep you occupied for a couple hours. Every Thursday they hook up a Randall to one of their taps and fill it with something crazy. The last time I was there I had a Haymaker from Evolution Brewing Co. Randalled through apple slices and oak chips that were soaked in Rum. It was interesting. The food here is a couple notches above the Dogfish brewpub.
Evolution Brewing, Burly Oak, Georgetown Brewing and Fordham are all local breweries within a short drive from Milton and Rehoboth. I haven't visited any of the others so I can't really say who's worth the trip but Evolution makes some pretty solid beer.
If you've had enough of "lower slower Delaware" all together, you can take the ferry near Rehoboth up to Cape May on the south Jersey Shore and find a nice beach bar that serves Bud Light Lime by the gallon. You could always drive back to DC, Philly or Baltimore to visit Church Key, Yard's or Clipper City respectively. New York is about four hours away as well if you want to make a long weekend out of it all.
So yeah, it's been fun putting writing this all down. I've only been here a month so there's probably a lot I don't know about the area yet, but it's definitely grown on me over the short amount of time I've been here. I think the beer has helped a lot with that. If any of you ever make it out to The First State you'll have to look me up, we'll go get a beer or ten.