The Local Tap – Brew Dog’s Filming in Old New Castle, a Cautionary Tale

A few weeks ago the Delaware craft beer network (which technically doesn’t exist) was set abuzz by the news that the show Brew Dogs would be in for a week filming an episode for their second season.

For those who are unfamiliar with this show that resides on the channel guide deep, Esquire Channel, it revolves around James Watts and Martin Dickie, owners and brewers for the  renowned (and often thought infamous) BrewDog brewery out of Fraserburgh, Scotland.  The format of the show is fairly simple, James and Martin travel to a well known brewery and there, brew a beer that tries to capture the essence of the area around them.  The show has seen them collect fog for water to brew with Anchor Brewing, brew a beer on a tall ship in Boston harbor (after taking a beer bath with Boston Brewery owner Jim Koch), and brewing the most “American beer” during a 4th of July parade.

This segment of the show is usually  a touch on the wacky side, as both guys run around trying to construct impossible equipment and gather unusual ingredients for their collaboration beer with the chosen brewer.  But other segments are very interesting as they highlight local craft beer bars and interact with craft beer loving (and non-craft beer loving) locals.  One show had them walk into a local bar and ask people there to “borrow” their beers.  The guys then took the beers down the street where a local chief cooked a dish that would pair well with each beer that the guys then returned to the unsuspecting donors to get their thoughts on how well the chief had done.

It should be no surprise to anyone that in the case of Delaware, the Brew Dogs were teaming up with the Dogfish Head brewery in Milton, Delaware.  This not only united the resources and creativity of two powerhouse breweries, but also marked a meeting of the guys with DFH owner Sam Calagione, himself not a stranger to TV beer shows.

The filming I went to watch was the guys visiting The Green in Historic New Castle to hang out and talk beer with the 1st Delaware Regiment.  The 1st Regiment is a living history group that educates people on the role Delaware played in the Revolutionary War.  The group pays tribute to the regiment that Delaware was requested to form for the Continental Army prior to the State’s independence from Pennsylvania.

Colonial reenactors might be an odd sight in some places, but in Historic New Castle the 1st Regiment is a common sight, participating in parades and other town events.  Heck, I’ve even had the pleasure of meeting some of them at beer events or just having a bite to eat at the local tavern.

I arrived about 15 minutes after the supposed start time to find the Regiment members set up and ready to go, but no Brew Dogs is sight.  Not surprising, having lived only blocks from The Green for many years and being a veteran of previous filmings such as Dead Poet’s Society and Oprah Winfrey’s Beloved, I’m well aware that filming is a matter of hurry up, get ready, and then sit around and wait.

But soon the producers and crew began to show up and lay out the shoot and co-ordinate with the Regiment about what was going to happen.  Several of the Regiment were chosen to participate in single shoots were they got to discuss craft beer (and its place in colonial times) with the guys as they tasted what appeared to be DFH’s Palo Santo, although I heard some discussion about aged vs non-aged.

Here’s a gallery of pictures I took during the shoot.  If you click on a picture it will put it in slide show mode and then you can use the arrows to view the rest.  Sorry if they load slow.

The cautionary tale?  Well this happened on a Friday, the following Tuesday I was working on my laptop when I decided to clean out my email.  When I was done I decided to take a quick minute to empty my spam folder and found the following that had been sent to me on April 10th…

Dear Ed,
Master brewers James Watt and Martin Dickie are bringing the craft beer revolution to Delaware to tape Season 2 of their popular show BREW DOGS next week.  Set to air this June on the Esquire Network, BREW DOGS follows these two Scottish rebels as they visit different American beer towns, taste distinctive craft beers, and enlist American brewers to help them create their own outrageous, locally-inspired drafts…
They’re filming in Delaware April 15-18, and I’d love to invite you to the tasting party — the grand finale of the episode — for a behind-the-scenes look at the show.

 

My reaction was less than subdued.  I just deleted several emails asking me for monetary help, telling me I’d won some UK lottery and (my favorite, from a supposed woman) asking me if I remember her and why haven’t I responded to her emails ; and THIS is the one Yahoo decides needs to go into my spam folder?  Thanks.

Anyway, the email went on to request that recipients release no details of the show (although they were included and I did let it slip on my Facebook page because, you know, at that point I hadn’t read the email yet), but I will say that I’m very interested to see how they navigated the interesting problems that surrounded how they decided to brew.

So let that be a lesson to you boys and girls.  Never trust your email provider, and always check your spam folder.

Time for another beer…

Historic New Castle Alliance’s ‘Wine About What Ales You’ Event

Tracey and I were happy to be able to attend this year’s “Wine About What Ales You” event in Historic New Castle.  This event, now in its third year, is held in the Courthouse Museum and benefits the Historic New Castle Alliance, an affiliation of the Main Street Program.  To help add to the colonial vibe, upon arriving at the courthouse attendees were greeted by members of the 1st Delaware Regiment, a non-profit group whose focus is to educate the public on the role Delaware played during the American Revolution.

WAWAY3
WELCOME!

Once inside, it didn’t take long to figure out the layout.  As you walked in the door, beers were on the left, and wines to the right.  All you had to do was decide where to start.  Well, in the center of course!  Because that’s where the cheese and chocolate table was.

When I asked Valerie Windle, co-chair for the event, about the very nice selection she replied, “The William Penn Culinary Arts Program (catering as “Penn Bistro) actually created all of the chocolates for us.  We had more than 100 people could eat!!”  The cheese was purchased by the Alliance itself from Trader Joe’s.  What seems to be everyone’s favorite?  “The Cheddar with Carmelized Onions is a favorite,” said Valerie. “Goes well with the beers!”

Left : The Cheese Table, Right : Tracey Looking Over Her Options
Left : The Cheese/Chocolate Table, Right : Tracey Looking Over Her Options

After trying a few samples of as many things as we could place on our plates, it was time to turn our attention to the wine and beer vendors that had come out for the event.  We first decided to check out some of the wines that were being poured.  Auburn Road from Pilesgrove, New Jersey was pouring, Eidolon, a Chambourcin/Merlot blend that not only tasted good right then, but would obviously take a year or two of aging.  DOPS, Inc and Southern Wine and Spirits Distributors were also on hand pouring more things than you could shake a stick at, and I have to be honest, at this point I started to slack as far as taking notes as to what I was tasting from where.  Suffice it to say that there were plenty of good wines being poured.

WAWAY6
Front : Auburn Road Winery, Back : James from DOPS, Inc

Of course we eventually had to go over and see what was happening on the beer side of the Courtroom.  Steve and Pete were there from Argilla Brewing.  Luckily, I found them pouring their Pete, Aye the Peat Scotch Ale, which had been tapped at the brewery while I was out of town.  Didn’t want to miss this one.   Next to them was Iron Hill Newark’s Head Brewer Justin Sproal pouring some really nice bottle releases.   Last but not least, Chad from 16 Mile Brewing was on hand pouring their Blues’ Golden, Old Court and Harvest Ale.  All in all, it was a nice cross-section of Delaware Craft beers being represented.

WAWAY5
Front : Steve and Pete from Argilla.  Back : Justin from Iron Hill, Newark.  Back left : Chad, 16 Mile Brewery

According to Valerie, the unofficial attendee count was 93.  But with additional walk-ins, she says the event easily broke the 100 mark.  When I comment that it appeared they might be close to out growing the quaint, but small courthouse, she concurred, “We had hoped to be able to use The Arsenal this year as it would allow more vendors and more people (or at least more space for everyone) but it wasn’t ready yet.  The New Castle Court House Museum has been great as it provides a lot of background character and The Arsenal will do so as well.”

In fact, it was obvious that Valerie and her group were indeed already thinking about next year, “Mark your calendar for January 11, 2014, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. Location TBD, but friend us on FB or on our website, www.historicnewcastle.org, which is being ‘renovated’ shortly to be more visually interesting and dynamic!”

Valerie was also quick to extend thanks to all who made the event possible, “All of our vendors: Auburn Road Vineyards (NJ), DOPS and Southern Distributors, 16-Mile, Argilla and Iron Hill (Newark), Carol Regan for the background vocals and music, and the First Delaware Militia (Revolutionary War) as our time travelers.  Many thanks to all those who helped set up, cut and plate the cheese and clean up as many hands make light work!!!  And especially to my co-chair, Cindy Snyder, who secures the Court House for the event, and does an endless amount of legwork!!!”

Carol Regan supplying the background music.
Carol Regan supplying the background music.

I’d recommend keeping an eye on this event.  It might appear small compared to some of the other craft beer related happenings in our area, but there appears to be no limit to what this event could become in the future.  At least from Valerie’s point of view, “Eventually we hope to out grow the Arsenal as well.”

………………………………………………………….

I’d like to thank the Historic New Castle Alliance for putting on such a very nice event.  I’d also like to thank Stefanie Spatola and Valerie Windle for taking some of their valuable time to talk to me.

The Historic New Castle Alliance has the up coming events:

Winter Fundraiser, the “Doo Wop Sock Hop” on February 16, 2013, 7 – 10 p.m. at St. Peter’s Gym.  Music and dancing by The Honeycombs, food by “Penn Bistro”,beer and wine, and silent auction.   Tickets are $50 per person and include food and beverages.

The Local Tap – Jessop’s Tavern

Jessop's Tavern (photo from www.jessops-tavern.com)
Jessop’s Tavern (from http://www.jessops-tavern.com)

It’s time that I right a great wrong that I’ve done to an establishment that at one time, I literally lived within a stone’s throw from – Jessop’s Tavern and Colonial Restaurant (Website : Facebook) in Historic New Castle.  In my younger days of working at my now 25+ year job, I lived in Historic New Castle in an old theatre that had been converted into condos (the old Earl Theatre for  those who are familiar with the area’s history). Back then the tavern was named The Green Frog, and many a night I would take the two minute walk from my condo to share a few beers with other locals and watch Jeopardy on the TV (yeah, we were a rocking town back then).

After several years, the Green Frog closed and reopened as Jessop’s Tavern and I moved to a house a few miles down the road.  You would have thought that after years of forming such a tight bond with an establishment that I would have continued to frequent it even though it was now a two minute drive from me instead of a two minute walk.  But for reasons I can’t explain, that didn’t happen.

Oh, I would always tell people about it.  The nice tap list.  The crock pots full of warm apple cider that would sit on the bar in the winter time.  The occasional live music.  But for some reason, the fondness that would resurface as I waxed poetic never translated into a trip back into town.  Well that all ended the other night when Tracey and I strolled into Jessop’s Tavern after a beer and wine event at the Court House Museum and were blown away.

Do you know who has the biggest selection of Belgian beers in the state of Delaware?  Well, according to proprietor and beer manager, Justin Day, Jessop’s Tavern does.  And with a selection that includes multiple varieties of Affligem, Rodenbach, Gouden Carolus, Malheur, Petrus, Delirium, Chouffe, Chimay, Straffe, Hendrik, Westmalle, Kasteel, Steen Brugge, as well as American Belgian-style brewers Ommegang (Jessop’s has 36 beers on their Belgian list, most in bottle by a good number on draft), we’re hard pressed to argue.  Along with their draft Belgian selections, Jessop’s also has a fine selection of  non-Belgian beers on tap from such breweries as Blue Point, New Castle, Guinness; along with local boys Twin Lakes and Dogfish Head.  We started the evening with a couple of Delirium Tremens  as we talked to Justin about how things were going with the tavern and of course, beer.

Justin Day pours us a couple of Deliriums
Justin Day pours us a couple of Deliriums
One side of Jessop's back bar.  Note the Belgian beers on the top shelf.
One side of Jessop’s back bar. Note the Belgian beers on the top shelf.

We were on the fence about food (only because we’d eaten at our previous event), until Justin said “mussels” and the next thing we knew, we had a bread bowl of Jessop’s crab dip and an order of  “Halve Maen Mossels” (one pound of mussels steamed in Belgian Beer, garlic and West Indies spices).  The crab dip was very good, but the mussels really stole the show here.

Mussels and Crab Dip.  Here's a tip, after eating the crab dip tear up the bread bowl and dip in the juices from the mussels.  Yummy.
Mussels and Crab Dip. Here’s a tip, after eating the crab dip tear up the bread bowl and dip it in the juices from the mussels. Yummy.

Jessop’s has a mussel/Belgian beer special, if you order an order of mussels and a bottle of Belgian beer, they’ll give you $3 off.  You can’t beat that.

The crowd in Jessop’s was pretty lively the night we were there.  Patrons filled the dinning room and the floor was buzzing with waiters and waitresses in colonial garb serving from a menu that reflects the English, Dutch and Swedish history that is rich in this area.  From their website:

Our kitchen strives to maintain authenticity in our Bill of Fare; you will see Dutch cheeses. English pub fare, Swedish sauces, & old American dishes.  Our Chef hand selects all of our seafood to assure freshness.  All of our sauces & dressings are made in house & much of the baking is done here, as well.

Crowd at Jessop's
The crowd at Jessop’s

We’ll definitely be returning more often to this lovely little tavern.  It truly is a unique little spot in our neighborhood with a quality menu  (reflected by it’s 2012 “Best of Delaware” Best Restaurant in New Castle award)  and a must visit for any beer lover (especially Belgian) in the state of Delaware.  If you visit, all you have to do is remember a few simple rules:

Rules
Rules

The wine and beer event at the Court House Museum?  Well, you see….oh, but that’s another post.

Time for another beer….