Our host was Frank DelGreco, the brewmaster at Southport (formerly of Magic Hat), who was very friendly and seemed excited to give us a tour of his 7-barrel brewery. What a beautiful system! I was very impressed with how well maintained it was and the copper bling was a treat to see. The fact that they had the various vessels clearly labeled was kind of cool, I thought, as it would gently educate clients of the restaurant and brewery who may not realize what all the equipment is for. Possibly even cooler was trying Frank’s Oktoberfest beer drawn right out of the bright tank…delicious!
After checking out the brewery, Frank treated Trish and I to a sampler flight of his finest. Trish’s favourite was the Rauchbier. A great example of the style, the
smokiness was not overwhelming but blended very nicely with the maltiness of the brew. Definitely a great brew. Personally, I was partial to the stout: an opaque, roasty brew with hints of chocolate and coffee and a slight hop bitterness on the back end. At a mid 3% ABV, this could very easily be a great session beer! The porter, English Pale Ale, Pilsner, and Heffeweissen were also all very good. As we prepared to leave, Frank filled a growler of his Rauchbier for us, and wished us a safe trip. If you’re ever in the Stamford area, make sure to visit and ask Frank for
a tour…oh, and make sure you ask to see the Homer Simpson doll he keeps on top
of his control panel!
Trish and I left for our next destination, huge smiles on our faces. Our next stop, after heading south-west off the beaten path through some beautiful scenery, was Captain Lawrence Brewing Company (CLBC) in Elmsford, NY (www.captainlawrencebrewing.com). This craft brewery is a larger packaging
and distributing brewery. Established in 2006 with a 7 barrel system, they have grown to a whopping 160 barrels!
Randy Shull, the packaging manager, was our enthusiastic host. Like a kid showing off his new toys, Randy gave us a tour of the brewery. With obvious pride and zeal, he showed us the new Siemens-operated control system that made the brewing process and their lives a lot easier…the massive fermentation tanks (and
informed us that there are still 4 more on the way!)…the applewood, bourbon,
oak, and wine casks that they use for aging specialty and sour beers…and the
crowning jewel of their brewhouse: the packaging area. This area included their keg cleaning line and the bottling line that has the capacity to handle 3,000 bottles per hour (and apparently that’s barely enough to keep up with demand!).
We then made our way to the tasting room to try some samples of their beer. Great stuff! Their Ginger Man is a beautiful ale with a gentle spicing of ginger and a nice hop bitterness on the back end which worked very well with the ginger flavour and aroma. Something like a subdued gingersnap cookie, but not too sweet. Very tasty. Trish’s favourite was their pumpkin ale, and I have to agree it is likely one of the best pumpkin ales I’ve ever had. The maltiness of the beer mixed very well with the spices that weren’t overbearing. My favourite was the heather ale…probably the best version of the style that I’ve had. So good that I bought a growler to bring home…to which Randy added 3 bottles of various versions of one of their one-off beers as well as a bottle of their Rosehip and Hibiscus ale. Time will tell if these actually make it back home. Another great visit, and I would definitely recommend giving them a shout if you have the opportunity.
Our next destination was to be Brooklyn Brewery, however, thanks to traffic (if you’ve ever driven in New York then you know what I mean) and the fact that tours are by reservation only during the week (and of course, this being an impromptu visit…) we weren’t able to take a tour of the brewery. That said, the smell of the malt alone from outside the building was worth the trip…that and the meal that we enjoyed at the Barbecue restaurant next door. Trish and I shared pulled pork and beef brisket platters with all the fixings…way more food than any human should consume in one sitting!
With bellies full, we left for our ultimate destination…Rehoboth Beach in Delaware and Dogfish Head Brewpub! Upon arriving in Rehoboth we discovered that Dogfish Head was closed for the evening, as they had given their staff a well-earned night off to party after what has surely been a busy summer for them. No matter…peering into the dimly lit pub through the windows still gave me a rush of excitement and put a huge smile on my face in anticipation of the day to come.
Trish and I promptly checked in to the Crosswinds Motel (www.crosswindsmotel.com), conveniently located stumbling distance at about 30 feet from the pub. The room was very comfortable and inviting and the front desk staff were a lot of fun to chat with. We then took the opportunity to take a walk down Rehoboth’s main street to the Atlantic Ocean.
What a beautiful place! So many cool artisanal shops lining what is likely the cleanest street I’ve ever seen. I have the distinct feeling that one day in this town will not be enough.
As I finish writing this post for tonight and make my way to bed, I feel like a kid on Christmas Eve, full of giddy anticipation for what awaits tomorrow…what a great day this has been!