WILMINGTON, DEL., July 14, 2011 — Wilmington is the largest city in the small State of Delaware and thirty miles south of Philadelphia, home of arguably the largest Beer Week. Delaware has one of the country’s largest craft breweries, Dogfish Head, within its borders and Wilmington, particularly, has a burgeoning beer scene.
Trying to find decent beer on tap as recently as a few years ago in Wilmington did not usually go much farther than pouring Dogfish Head, Iron Hill, Sierra Nevada, or Victory beers at any bar not named Iron Hill or Washington Street Ale House. That has changed quite a bit in 2011. A couple handfuls of city restaurant owners teamed up with Out & About and decided that this was the year in which to celebrate Wilmington Beer Week.
The celebration got off to a rousing start on Saturday night with what was reported to be a simul-toast across all participating establishments. No word on exactly how well it went, but Mat Falco, Founder of Philly Beer Scene magazine, reported that all was going quite well at Piccolina Toscana.
The Italian restaurant was hosting Evolution Craft Brewing of Delmar and its owner Tom Knorr. “He was pouring samples of all their core beers and people were lined up and seemed genuinely interested in what was going on,” Falco said. “I talked to a bunch of local beer lovers, industry workers and bar owners and the overall consensus seemed to be that everyone in the area is really hungry for good beer and more destinations.”
An event with Evolution was not the only scheduled event of the week certain to get beer lovers salivating. Celebrated brewer, owner, and TV star (Brew Masters), Sam Calagione, from Dogfish Head is scheduled to appear at no less than three events between yesterday and today. Tomorrow night, long-time supporter of the craft beer segment, Washington Street Ale House, will be pouring cask-conditioned beer from Evolution, Fordham, and Yards firkins.
And, this past Sunday, Domaine Hudson teamed with Standard Distributing of New Castle to present six interesting Belgian beers paired with cheeses, charcuterie, mussels, and bread. Tom Hudson got out of the not-quite-forty-hour-work-week of a CPA and into the not-quite-forty-hour-work-week of a restaurant owner six years ago. Nearly two years ago, Hudson began sharing some his bar space between his ample wine collection and interesting beer that customers were then beginning to seek out. Today, he stocks over 100 bottles of beers from around the world and presents them on a well-conceived menu in categories of Crisp, Fruit & Spice, Hop, Malt, Tart & Funky, Roast, and Reserves.
At the Belgian Beer Pairing event, the spectrum of beers showcased the varied flavors, aromas, and textures that delight many fans of Belgian beer. Pork made a very nice accompaniment for the Steenbrugge Blond as did the mussels with the always delightful Saison Dupont.
Beer and cheese are often lovingly talked about in their pair-worthiness and this was none more evident than with the complimenting funky flavors in both the Le Chimay à la Bière cheese and Boon’s Oude Gueuze beer.
All by itself at the end with no food left on the plate to pair with was no problem for the Malheur 10, a Méthode Champenoise beer that has the ability to put many similarly prepared wines to shame.
Domaine Hudson wraps up its week of big events with a tutored beer pairing dinner that promises to be memorable and will showcase the likes of 21st Amendment Hop Crisis, Allagash Confluence, North Coast Old Rasputin, Malheur 10, Sly Fox/De Proef Collaboration ‘11, and Young’s Double Chocolate Stout.
On Saturday, Wilmington Beer Week closes out with “Delaware Beer Night” where beer hunters will find local Delaware beer in a cooking class at Piccolina Toscana and dinners at Deep Blue and Harry’s Seafood Grill.
While on the surface, this year’s inaugural run at a Wilmington Beer Week may appear light to some, the enthusiasm for great beer in the First State is evidently alive and well and growing, particularly at some of these not-so-usual spots highlighted during Wilmington Beer Week.
The State counts 16 Mile, Dogfish Head, Evolution, Fordham, Iron Hill, Old Dominion, Stewart’s, and Twin Lakes breweries across its roughly 2,000 square miles of land. Based on the success of this year’s Wilmington Beer Week and in a city of at least a dozen neighborhood taprooms — and, not to mention, Iron Hill since 2003 at the waterfront as the city’s only brewery and brewpub — the future of drinking great beer in the Corporate Capital looks bright.
–For more pictures from the Belgian Beer Tasting, please visit TheBrewLounge.com
–Read more of Bryan’s work at After Hours in the Communities at the Washington Times.
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