3rd Wave Brewing’s 1st Wave IPA

One night, no one quite remembers exactly when or why, a brewery vanished. To be more accurate, the people working in the brewery vanished, leaving the building and the equipment to sit silently like a long forgotten shipwreck serving as nothing more than a reminder of the life and activity that had once filled its abandoned structure.

Where the old brewery workers went to, no one knows, but some say that they were whisked away to the far off realm of Mary’s Land.

And all remained quiet, until one night the brewery came to life with sound, and light, and smells. Once again the parking lot was a buzz with delivery trucks. The air smelled again of hops and malt. And the blur of activity could once again be seen in the dimly lit windows.

But who was responsible for this resurrection? Who had brought the brewery back to life? Well, locals whispered of two woman who had moved into the brewery and made it their new home with the intention of bring finely crafted beer back to the once silent structure.

Legend also says that one night, under the light of the full moon, these woman slipped into a nearby brewery and enticed a young man to follow them back to their home, a young man who had a gift of making good beers. The young man followed them back, and some say that he still wonders the brewery at night to this very day.

Or so it is said in legend.

………………………………..

OK, not really, but there is always an amount of truth to fables and legends. Lori Clough and Suellen Vickers did in fact buy the Delmar, Delaware brewing space that had been vacated by Evolution Brewing when that brewery decided to move up the road into Maryland.

They then reached out to John Panasiewicz who was brewing for the Iron Hill chain at the time and brought him on board to help brew their beers, many of them based on recipes that began on Suellen’s back porch.

The rest, if not legend, is at least history.

Tracey and I finally made it down to the brewery last October for our first Southern Swing (I probably should write about that someday, it was an awesome trip) and it’s just a quaint little place on a quiet road (that day, other days may vary) through the southern most town in Delaware.

3rd Wave started hitting the shelves in bottles, but after a while they started including beer in cans, something that I know long time readers know I’m a big fan of.

The beer I chose to hangout with this time is one of their bottled offerings, 1st Wave IPA, and since it’s 1st Wave, I decided to enjoy it while participating in some of the many firsts that have come around this time of year.

As always click on a photo to enlarge and cycle through them. You’ll find my thoughts on the beer after the gallery.

THEM: From their website – “Our American style IPA has a deep golden color and a great hop bitterness balanced with a malty sweetness. Brewed with American 2-row barley, Warrior, Northern Brewer and Cascade hops. The name stems from this being the first IPA beer we attempted.” 1st Wave clocks in at ~6.2ABV and ~63IBU.

BUZZ: Ratebeer (3.09/5), Beer Advocate (3.78/5), Untappd (3.36/5)

DE AVAILABILITY: Most fine beer outlets.

ME: My first two six packs of this were very enjoyable. 1st Wave pours a very pleasing orangish color with a topping of white fluffy foam.

The interesting thing that struck me about this beer is that although it’s billed as “American” I though it had a very English vibe to it. Maybe because of the northern brewer hops.

Malt/caramel are highly predominant in both the nose and the flavor, with the hops tucked in there nicely. This is not a “hop bomb” IPA, the flavor is well balanced on the malt base with the ending bitterness being a little more harsh than crisp, but just at the right level.

The interesting thing that struck me about this beer is that although it’s billed as “American” I though it had a very English vibe to it. Maybe because of the northern brewer hops. Anyway, at one point I found myself wondering how this beer would work in a cask, maybe with a handful of Northern Brewer hops tossed in for good measure (no hot peppers or gummy bears, please).

The third six-pack was a mystery. The first two beers were dead on 1st Wave, but the next three tasted completely different. The beer had a more floral/Belgian note to it, and I though maybe the beer had started to turn (bottling date was October of 2016). But to be honest, if it did, it turned into something that was enjoyably drinkable as the beer showed no normal signs of infection – in other words a nasty, foamy mess. The final bottle of the six was back to normal.

Based on the first two six-packs I’d recommend checking 1st Wave IPA out. It’s a pretty solid beer.

Time for another beer….

Have Some Breweries Effectively Defeated Can Rage?

It’s time, isn’t it? I mean I could understand it initially. Change brings out the deepest of insecurities and skepticism in people, especially when the thing that is changing is going in a direction of something that has for decades stood for inferiority and questionable quality.

When the initial wave of craft beer in cans began, there was a good amount of backlash from a sector of the craft beer community. But that didn’t deter those breweries from installing canning lines instead of bottling lines, and the trend (if you can call it that) shows no sign of slowing down.

According to CraftCans.com, 81 craft breweries were canning their beer in 2010. Today that number sits at well over 500 breweries which all together put over 2000 canned beers on US market shelves (and I suspect the numbers are even higher. CraftCan wasn’t up to date regards to breweries who can in Delaware and so maybe other states are under represented as well).

I’ve witnessed this growth myself watching the canned craft beer section at State Line Liquors, a small shelf pushed into a corner, grow into a much larger shelf that OK, is still pushed into a corner but you can no longer walk past it unaware of its presence.

Once breweries began to get their patrons over the stigma that beer in cans was inferior, in some way tasted like “canned beer”, or that a hop vine died every time a can was opened; it was inevitable that the convenience and portability of cans would be quickly embraced.

Let’s face it when it comes to the most accommodating friend who is always up for fun, cans are it. They can go places that bottles can’t go, are easier and safer to deal with than a pile of empty glass, and as I pointed out on a recent Facebook chat, they’re far superior based on their shear stackability alone.

These potential benefits weren’t lost on Lori Clough whose 3rd Wave Brewery although having a history of bottling their shelf products on a bottling line inherited when her and her partner Suellen Vickers acquired the old Evolution Brewing site, recently released their seasonal BeachBreaker Apricot Wheat in cans. “We are located close to the Delaware and Maryland resort beaches, lots of hotels and state parks. All of which do not allow (or discourage) glass bottles,” Lori said.

But Lori also commented that canning had other advantages, “As we researched the canning process, we decided to can one year round product and a few seasonals….Cans work so much better in carry in/carry out situations. The cans and the canning process has greatly improved over the last few years. More people tend to recycle cans. Cans protect the product much better than bottles. And last, lots of other breweries are canning, we don’t want to miss out!”

And Lori doesn’t have to look far to witness some of these other breweries that are canning. In fact, she doesn’t even have to look outside of the state.

Delaware’s Twin Lake Brewery has offered their only shelf product Greenville Pale Ale in a can from the very beginning, and Milford’s Mispillion River has canned all their beers except for occasional “brewery sales only” bottle releases. So what can we expect to see from 3rd Waving joining these beers in the future?

Lori told me that their pale ale ShoreBreak will be available in cans all year round and that along with BeachBreak Apricot you can expect two other seasonals, SunSet Peach Wheat and SunDancer White IPA in mid July and late August, respectively.

But if it was just these new, cool kids taking to cans, maybe this whole “craze” might go away but no, some of the more established breweries are also taking advantage of the aluminum resurgence. Sierra Nevada, Ballast Point, Avery, Victory, Cigar City, Brewer’s Art and Bells all now have offerings in cans and early this year it was announced that industry darling New Glarus had installed a canning line. Except they hadn’t. But then they had.

No, I feel that despite some stubborn naysayers who will continue to hold on to their glass as tightly as Rose did to Jack at the end of Titanic (until she finally…well, you know…), thanks to some breweries who were willing to go against initial skepticism, cans are here to stay and will only continue to grow in numbers on the shelves of your favorite beer stop.

As always I would like to thank Lori for taking some of her valuable time to talk to me.

THE FINAL SIP: “I dream of the day when I can walk out of the liquor store with a 30-pack of Arrogant Bastard in cans.” – Ed Morgan. Well maybe not a 30-pack but available at State Line Liquors for $38.99 a case of 16oz cans. (PHOTO: The Dogs of Beer)

Four Must Visit Tents at The Delaware Wine and Beer Festival

This Sunday marks the third annual Delaware Wine and Beer Festival, and they’ve managed to put together an amazing collection of breweries, wineries and food venues that highlight their theme, “Drink Local, Eat Local, Buy Local”.  The five hour event gives attendees plenty of time to stop at every tent and with tickets for 10 free tastes everyone should have the opportunity to try the beer and wines that intrest them.  That being said, I thought I’d give a run down of four tents I’ll be making sure I spend a little extra time at.

3rd Wave Brewing

When Evolution Brewing moved from Delmar Delaware across the state line into Maryland, they left both a figurative and literal hole in the Delaware craft beer scene.  Lori Clough and Suellen Vickers didn’t let that hole sit for very long, as they acquired the facility and set up 3rd Wave Brewing.  They then hired head brewer John Panasiewicz from Iron Hill Brewery and got busy making beer.  They officially opened for business on August 29th to an enthusiastic welcome from the surrounding community and have started to make their presence know in the craft beer arena.  I think it’s fitting that the newest Delaware brewery makes its debut appearance at the Delaware Wine and Beer Festival.

Legacy Distilling

I first got introduced to what will become Delaware’s first stand alone distillery at Fordham Brewing’s Hogs and Hops event in August.  Ron Gomes and Mike Rasmussen started to form the ground work for their company as soon as Delaware passed the law that allowed distilleries.  Since then, they’ve found a home in Smyrna, Delaware and have been working on finalizing a location.  Mike and Ron won’t be pouring samples on Sunday, but they will be happy to answer any questions about what to expect in the future from this exciting new venture.  They’ll also be having a free raffle to give away a prize package including a future tour of their facility, a bottle of their spirits and other great items.

Great Shoals Winery

Although this award winning producer of sparkling style wines operates out of Princess Anne, MD, they have a very strong tie to the state of Delaware.  When the winery was looking for an apple variety to use for a new addition to their sparkling cider line, they were happily surprised to discover that the Smith family farm in Bridgeville, DE was not only growing first class cider apples, but among the varieties they were growing was one that Great Shoals was very interested in – the Black Twig.  The result of this discovery is T.S. Smith’s Black Twig Hard Apple, a European style dry sparkling cider.  We can’t wait to try this award winning cider which has been officially recognized as “Delaware’s First Hard Cider”. (Also keep an eye out for their multi-award winning Spencerville Red Hard Apple Cider.)

GABF Award Winners

Yeah OK, I’m cheating here.  Hopefully this weekend will give you a great opportunity to try two recent (just last week as a matter of fact) Great American Beer Fest medal winners.  First, Old Dominion Brewery will hopefully be pouring their Oktoberfest which won a bronze medal in the German-Style Marzen catagory.  Second, out-of-state favorites Yard’s Brewing will hopefully be bringing their bronze medal winning ESB.  I have no idea which beers these breweries WILL be pouring on Sunday, but I’m hoping to get a chance try these two again.

Of course these are just a few of the great breweries and wineries that will be in attendance at the DWaBF.  Make sure you stop at the other great tents of Argilla Brewing Company, 16 Mile Brewery, Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Fenwick Wine Cellars, Harvest Ridge Winery, Nassau Valley Vineyards, Pizzadili Winery & Vineyards, Twin Lakes Brewery, and Unplugged & Uncorked — Sonata Wines.

And don’t forget the food!  Abbott’s Grill, Milford, Chops Grille, Maple Dale Country Club, McGlynn’s Pub & Restaurant and The Pizza Wagon will be on hand to make sure you don’t get too hungry during the afternoon.

Have a great time at the Delaware Wine and Beer Festival!  See you there!