Last Friday the Delaware Craft Beer and Wine Lovers group met at the newest, and smallest, brewpub in Delaware – Argilla Brewing (Web : Facebook : Twitter). Steve Powell opened the brewery in March as part of Pietro’s pizza’s new location on Kirkwood Highway. This was Tracey and I’s second visit to the brewery, just about a month from our first visit.
First, let’s get a few comments about the food out of the way. On our first stop here we found the pizza good, although our in-house pizza reviewer (my daughter) thought it was light on toppings. Not the case this time! Our “Kennett” pizza ( fresh mushrooms, onions and roasted red peppers) came out hot, crisp and covered with toppings. The combo was excellent with a nice tasting sauce and plenty of cheese. The chipolte stout BBQ wings we ordered had a great flavor and mild heat. But I’m going to be honest, any comment I make on the food is irrelevant. Why? Because by 7:30 the place was packed. I’m mean seriously packed. Obviously someone out there thinks this place is plating up killer food and apparently I’m the last one in Delaware to find out. So let’s get to the beer (which after all is what I pay myself to do).
The first thing on the board that grabbed my attention was a Belgian bitter (5.8% ABV). The beer was well balanced with both the Belgian and bitter influences apparent. To be honest I didn’t take a lot of notes on it as I was content at the moment to just sit there and enjoy it.
The next beer was Gleason’s Cream Ale (4.5% ABV) which I had on my first visit. As I said then, I’m usually not a fan of nitro for anything other than stouts, but it really does marry well with a Cream Ale. The reduced carbonation gives the beer a mouth feel deserved of the description “cream”. This is a beer you could drink a lot of, which I believe is what the guys at Argilla were shooting for.
Next was the Amber (5.0% ABV), which had the malt profile you’d want in an Amber with just enough bitter on the back end to balance it out. Argilla toasts some of the grains in their pizza ovens for this beer, giving a nice tie in between the beer and food sides of the the business. It rocked with the pizza. Although I really enjoy the Cream Ale, I’d have to say that this is my favorite beer Argilla is producing right now.
Finally I had the Citizen Pale Ale which, with notes of grapefruit and spice that make me think of cascade or columbus hops, is about as defining example of an American style pale ale as one could ask for. Another solid beer.
A quick poll around the group came to the same conclusion. Everyone seemed be enjoying the beers, finding more than one on the board that they liked. Argilla does have commercial guest taps (again solid beers in the 5-6% range, nothing huge) for those who prefer them. But as I glanced around the bar it seem that the majority of people were drinking those produced in house. Another nice testament to a brewery.
It’s become to easy in the current craft beer market with it’s trend towards 8+% ABV beers with a myriad of flavors running around in your glass to forget that there is a lot of room between the 5%ABV megaswill and a well crafted 6.0% beer for a brewer to focus on, and indeed shine (and I’m as guilty as the next person in that regard). At the moment, that’s where Argilla seems comfortable playing. Their beers are clean, on point as far as style and accessible, which is all anyone can ask. These are beers that will fit in well with a meal out with friends or family, without being to heavy or distracting.
This is the part where I’m supposed to encourage you give them a try, but by the look of the crowd on Friday it appears that you already have. I will encourage you then to keep supporting Argilla Brewing, they’re representing the craft beer scene in Delaware well.
[NOTE – Steve Powell contacted me after learning we were coming. Sadly he wasn’t going to be there that night but offered that his manager would be more than happy to take us back and show us their brewing set up. But since the place was so busy, I decided not to pull anyone away from doing their jobs. But I thank Steve for the consideration. Hopefully next time!]