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The 302 Beer Drinkers’ Choice Awards Celebrated Brews in Lewes

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Kelly Jack and Rob Boyle of Bellefonte Brewing Company. Photographs by Rachel Swick Mavity

Crooked Hammock Brewery hosted the fifth 302 Beer Drinkers’ Choice Awards in Lewes, with awards given to multiple breweries.

The people have chosen. The top vote-getter at the fifth annual Beer Drinkers’ Choice Awards hosted by Crooked Hammock was Wilmington Brew Works!

To win the “Best All-Around” award, Wilmington Brew Works served up its Luau Punch, a sour-fruited beer, and the outfits to match. The team dressed as Magnum P.I. characters from the popular 1980s television show. This is the second win for the brewery, which also took the top spot in 2020.

 Samantha-Burke-and-Chris-Pink-of-Brickworks


Samantha Burke and Chris Pink of Brickworks

Other awards at the 302 Beer Drinkers’ Choice Awards included:

  • Best Brewery Costume: Mispillion River Brewing as Ghostbusters
  • Best Brewery Booth: First State Brewing as Mad Scientists, complete with beakers that were bubbling from dry ice
  • Most Unique Beer: Autumn Arch Beer Project with Ranch Water, a blonde ale with lime and tequila

Rich Garrahan of Crooked Hammock Brewery says his team was excited to have every brewery in Delaware represented at the event. “The best part is getting together with all the brewers. We host a breakfast before the event, and it’s great getting to know everyone,” he says.

Rich Garrahan Matthew Duhm and-John Wilkinson of Crooked Hammock

Rich Garrahan, Matthew Duhm and John Wilkinson of Crooked Hammock

While Crooked Hammock had to skip the event in 2021, it welcomed the excitement and energy in the air this year. “I think everyone is just happy to be back out and socializing,” Garrahan says.

Crooked Hammock, which opened in Lewes in 2015, also has locations in Middletown and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. At the event, it poured Gunga Galunga Sour, a kettle sour with prickly pear and lime, and Worm Burner IPA.

“This event makes me so proud to host all the brewers from the state,” says Garrahan. “It’s great to see everyone come together.”

Kasen-Donald-Holly-Ski-Joan-Donald-and-Gary-of-Garys-and-38-75-Brewin

Kasen Donald, Holly Ski, Joan Donald and Gary of Gary’s and 38 75 Brewing

The smallest brewery in the state is likely 38°-75° out of Gary’s Dewey Beach Grill. It is a 20-gallon brewery that focuses on all single-hop brews.

Gary Cannon and his team served up their single-hop West Coast IPA and single-hop pale ale. Their theme was “all the single hops,” a take on the Beyonce song.

38°-75° started in 2017, says Holly Ski of Gary’s Dewey Beach Grill. “Gary always home-brewed but decided it made sense to brew for our customers,” she says. The brewery crafts everything from stouts to brown ales, focusing on what the team likes to drink. Visit 3875brewing.com for the menu and beer list.

Justin-Lovuolo-and-Susan-Schatzman-of-JAKL

Justin Lovuolo and Susan Schatzman of JAKL

Another newcomer to the brewery scene is JAKL Beer Works of Middletown. High school buddies Justin Lovuolo and Andrew Kulp from Nazareth, Pennsylvania, reconnected in Delaware after Lovuolo retired from the Air Force. Kulp had gone into engineering and relocated to Roanoke but found the position was not a good fit for him. He quit his job and planned to open a brewery in Chestertown, Maryland. However, the deal fell through so, when COVID hit, he and Lovuolo found a spot in Middletown and did the bulk of the work themselves to open.

The space offers a large footprint for brewing, an open bar, and an outdoor space for kids and adults to enjoy. It’s also a hop, skip and jump from First State Brewing Company.

On tap at the Beer Drinkers’ event was its Hard Days Night, a German lager with local honey, and Golden Lullaby, a sweet and malty West Coast IPA.

Coming up for JAKL is its first anniversary party on May 21, starting at noon. The band Party Fowl Trio will be playing, and there will be food trucks and new beers to try. Visit jaklbeerworks.com for details.

 Kathy-and-Bill-Livesey-of-Midnight-Oil-Brewing


Kathy and Bill Livesey of Midnight Oil Brewing

Autumn Arch Beer Project’s Cait McElhaney serves their two brews—Ranch Water, a blonde ale with key lime and tequila, and Sabrero, a dry-hopped Kolsch—during the event.

Autumn Arch of Newark will celebrate its third anniversary with a big party on April 9. McElhaney shares that seven new beers will be available, plus a bottle release, live music, wood-fired pizza, etc.

The brewery’s 122-seat, 17-tap location also features an outdoor patio. Don’t miss the house-made root beer on tap: autumnarch.com.

Kyle-McLaughlin-Joe-McCormick-and-Kelsey-McCormick-of-Stitch-House

Kyle McLaughlin, Joe McCormick and Kelsey McCormick of Stitch House

Stitch House Brewery opened in 2017 across from The Grand in Wilmington. Its 12-tap bar features a variety of lagers and pilsners. Head brewer Drew Rutherford trained in Germany, hence this style of beer, and later worked in Philadelphia. Stitch House owners Dan Sheridan and Rob Snowberger always dreamed of opening a brewery in their hometown of Wilmington.

Stitch House features a full restaurant with menu items from tacos to stacked sandwiches (Pro tip: Try the wild mushroom cheesesteak).

At the event, Stitch House served up Boysen the Hood, a fruited sour, and Run for the Pils, its flagship pilsner with a crisp finish. Visit stitchhousebrewery.com.

Bellefonte Brewing Company will celebrate its sixth anniversary this May. Its two locations, Capitol Trail and Marsh Road, have 16 taps that rotate the brewery’s 40 recipes, including two fruited sours.

The brewery recently extended its distribution, and fans can now find its beers on tap at a variety of bars and restaurants across the First State.

At the Beer Drinkers’ event, Bellefonte was pouring Orange Street Ale, one of its crowd-pleasers, an orange-cream ale with orange blossom honey and orange peel at the event. Check the brewery out at the April 23 Spring Fest at the Marsh Road location. Visit bellefontebrewingcompany.com for upcoming events and a full beer list.

Brick Works Brewing & Eats, with locations in Smyrna and Long Neck (Millsboro), brought some fan favorites to the event, including its chocolate-covered pretzel stout, one of its regular on-tap beers. In addition, it tried a one-off brew, Granny Smith, a fruited sour only available for about a month.

Brick Works will unveil a newly expanded patio at the Smyrna location this summer. It will be ready to go for live music and gatherings when the weather warms up, says Samantha Burke, the marketing manager for Brick Works. The brewery also recently did a menu refresh and will continue its monthly beer release while improving its loyalty rewards program. Visit brickworksde.com.

Jeff-Shockley-Eric-Williams-Claus-Hagelman-and-Jeremy-Robbins-of-Mispillion-River-Brewing

Jeff Shockley, Eric Williams, Claus Hagelman and Jeremy Robbins of Mispillion River Brewing

Its partner, Mispillion River Brewing, is also getting ready for summer with plans to bring back live music and regular events at the Milford brewery. Mispillion team members were rocking the Ghostbusters attire in keeping with one of their crowd-pleasers, Ecto-Cooler, a sour beer with added electrolytes.

Coming up? Mispillion will be doing a special nine-beer variety pack featuring its three electrolyte-infused brews: War Possum, War Llama and War Goose. Visit mispillionriverbrewing.com for more information.

Related: 6 Pumpkin Beers From Delaware Breweries to Sip This Fall

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