Every year fellow beer blogger Bryan Roth and his friend Justin take a roadtrip to Dogfish Head in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware affectionately called, “Beergrimage.” This year their wolfpack grew by one – me.
Take a roadtrip from our meeting point in Washington, DC hitting up four breweries on our way to the Atlantic. These breweries are DuClaw Brewing Company, Eastern Shore Brewing, 16 Mile Brewery and lastly Dogfish Head Brewpub. Mission accepted.
**Note: Justin manned up and was our responsible designated driver for the whole trip. Don’t drink and drive.**
DuClaw Brewing Company
We climbed into Justin’s Mazda and left DC around 9:30am making our way up to Bowie, MD to DuClaw Brewing Company. We were those guys knocking on the door to let us in at 10:59am when they open at 11:00am (hey, it was cold out). You can’t drink all day if you don’t start in the morning. Here’s what I ordered (from left to right in the picture):
- Sweet Baby Jesus (of course), which is their famous Chocolate Peanut Butter Porter
- Anti-Venom Pale Ale
- Bad Moon Porter, a Robust Porter on Nitro
- eXile 7 (X7) Imperial Amber Ale
- Hellrazer IPA
- Naked Fish, a Chocolate Raspberry Stout
Each was a delicious 4-ounce pour. I can’t complain about any of them. The dark beers were all superb making it really difficult to choose my favorite. You can’t go wrong with Sweet Baby Jesus, Bad Moon Porter or Naked Fish. Their Cuban sandwich was spot on and gigantic especially for only $11.
Eastern Shore Brewing
With full stomachs and some beer in our systems we headed to our next stop about an hour away in St Michaels, MD – Eastern Shore Brewing. The tasting room looks like a well-lit hunter’s cigar lounge. Comfy chairs and couches surround the wooden walls with animal heads and guns held by deer hooves on them. There was a small L-shaped bar to the right of the entrance where we pulled up at.
Byran and I each got a flight of their 5 beers. The kinda weird, super optimistic bartender explained that they brew based on the season meaning we’re going to get darker beers. Cool – right up my alley, right? Well not so much. We each had a scotch ale, black IPA, amber ale, a porter and the same porter on cask infused with coco nibs. The beers were all very thin-bodied and felt watered-down. They weren’t filled any with off-flavors or a ton of flavor of any kind. Only the cask porter with coco nibs had distinction to it. Too bad. But we weren’t about to let some watered-down beers ruin our trip.
Aside – The brewery is adjacent to a winery AND a distillery. This might make for a fun afternoon if you’re in the area. Just hit up the brewery last and maybe the beer will taste better.
16 Mile Brewery
I wish that I had seen the movie 8 Mile so I could make some joke about how 16 Mile is twice as good as it. I digress.
Disappointed from Eastern Shore and with a mild buzz we trekked another hour up (over?) to 16 Mile Brewery. We pulled into the gravel parking lot and made our way past an unlit fire pit. We entered a well-lit rectangular room with a long bar to the right and several tables to the left. 16 Mile had 8 beers available and flights of either 8 or 6 beers. To make sure I was able to make it to DFH later I choose the lesser amount.
It had been a few hours since the delicious beers at DuClaw and with hope of finding good beer before hitting the coast quickly faintly I had the first of my 16 Mile beers – Responders American Session Ale. I quickly followed that up with the Tiller Brown Southern English Brown Ale, Inlet IPA, Old Court Dark Pale Ale, Delaware Oyster Stout (my favorite) and Hot Fudge Sundae Stout. They were all leaps and bounds better than Eastern Shore’s. Halfway through our sitting the sun had finally set on the cold winter day and the fire pit was lit. 16 Mile is a pleasant setting for a few beers with a friendly staff.
It’s the middle of January in a beach town. You would think a bar, brewpub or restaurant of any type would be empty. Nope. We arrived at Dogfish Head around 6:30pm and there wasn’t a parking spot to be found. Inside was equally as crowded. You know when you’re that guy standing in the middle of the one narrow pathway for people to walk through? Yeah, that was me sipping on my carrot beer waiting for our table for 45 minutes.
We made our way upstairs to our 4-top table. Things get a little hazy but there were some wings involved, fried pickles, an outstanding mushroom and bacon pizza and many more beers. I recall having a Bocce beer and possibly another one while we waited for our final course. Cue drumroll. The World Class Stout. This beer is so high-ABV you’re given a range of what it could be – 15-20%. Knowing my limit I thought it best to order a 4-ounce tasting of it. However the two bad influences, one to my left and the other to my right, each ordered a full glass. Wanting to prove my manhood I **think** I told the waiter to bring me a full glass. I might have also just said, “I can’t be the only one doing a sample” and he thought I wanted a full one… Regardless the beer came. And it was delicious. Even though I was whatever-teen beer in at this point I trust my opinion that it was the best ridiculously high-ABV beer I’ve had. It had a slight burn to it but it was so balanced with chocolatety-malty goodness that I ordered another. Well okay, this time I got a 4-ounce and it was more than enough to hold me over while Bryan sipped on his first World Class Stout. A band had set up and was rocking out as we stumbled out of there back to our hotel a few freezing cold blocks away at 12:45am.
The Road Home
Groggy and dehydrated we dragged ourselves into Justin’s car in the morning. Fueled by an egg and bacon bagel we decided to stop at a bottle shop in Hyattsville, MD on the way home. Everyone loaded up on hard-to-get and rare beers. I picked up a six-pack of DuClaw Sweet Baby Jesus and Union Craft Duckpin Pale Ale with a couple other singles.
A beer roadtrip, new breweries, new beers, new friends, new (fuzzy) memories – it doesn’t get much better. Get out of your comfort zone and explore. Adventures get pushed aside way too much for work, mundane social commitments, errands, cruising the Internet, etc.
Thank you Bryan and Justin for letting me tag along on this year’s Beergrimage.
What’s the last adventure you’ve been on? What’s the next one you have planned?
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