Delaware State Regulations Force Two Stones Pubs to be Re-Licensed as Brewpubs

2SP BREWPUBBrewpubs usually come into being with a torrent of fanfare and anticipation as the local beer community eagerly awaits the opening of the doors, and the amazing beers beyond. However, on very rare occasions, in the state of Delaware at least,  brewpubs can open with the far less ceremonious swipe of the pen, and the mundane task of filling out forms.

That’s what happened recently when the popular Two Stones Pub franchise had to re-license their two Delaware bars/restaurants as brewpubs due to the recent opening of the Aston, PA based 2SP Brewery by Two Stones Pub owners Mike Stiglitz and Ben Muse.

I first found out about this from Bellefonte Brewing’s head brewery Joe Jacobs on the Delaware Craft Beer and Wine Lovers Facebook page and to be honest I was initially shocked.

When I reached out to Mike via email to get more information he confirmed the recent change. “True. As a brewery owner, all other restaurants must be licensed as brewpubs or we would be violating the regulations.”

Wanting to get a better understanding of the legal side of the situation I reached out to the Delaware Alcoholic Beverage Control Commissioner’s office to ask for some clarification and Deputy Commissioner Robert Weist directed me to regulation Title 4 Section 506 Interest in establishment selling to consumer (emphasis mine):

(a) It shall be unlawful:

(1) For a manufacturer or supplier, or the owner, partner or stockholder of a manufacturer or supplier, to own or be interested in any manner in any establishment licensed by the Commissioner to sell alcoholic liquors, either by the bottle or by the glass to the consumer thereof for consumption either on or off the premises where sold.

And although Robert admits that the law is pretty restrictive, “Delaware has the most stringent tied house laws in the United States”. He was quick to point out that the law has a good reason for existing.

“The law keeps someone like Anheuser-Busch from coming into the state and opening a bunch of restaurants and exerting their influence on the tier system.”

While Mike and Ben’s situation appeared relatively straightforward, Robert indicated that is not always the case. “Hotels are my [bane]”, he said as he went on to describe how quickly things can get complicated.

When a hotel opens and wants a license for a bar, the owning parties of the hotel are searched out. This usually means companies owned by other companies and more often then not can eventually lead to investment companies like REIT (Real Estate Investment Trust) which in turn can have thousands of shareholders. Apparently, figuring out who all the “owners” are and if any of them own a stake in a manufacturer as describe above is just a small part of what makes Robert’s job – interesting.

So with a better understanding of the regulations that forced Mike and Ben to re-license their establishments, questions started flooding in my mind. First and foremost? If the State is going to make them be a brewpub, are they going to in fact be a brewpub?

“Yes we will be doing nanobrew size batches throughout the year,” Mike replied. “We have several (VMS350) SABCO systems and we have decided to brew at all locations but it will be periodically throughout the year nothing scheduled and nothing set in stone.”

Of course that leads to another bonus of being a brewpub – growlers. But while the switch in license does allow the locations to sell growlers if they want, Mike was quick to point out that there are certain restrictions.

“Yes you are allowed to sell growlers if you are a brew pub but only what you produce. So that means we can only sell growlers at Two Stones Newark of beer that is produced at Two Stones Newark. We can not sell any other beer even Two Stones Pub Wilmington beer or 2sp Brewing Company beer.”

On the surface, this re-licensing might seem like a nuisance but it actually can be very beneficial to the owners of 2SP Brewery. Having pilot systems at their restaurant locations gives them a great opportunity to brew small batches of beer and get almost instant costumer feedback outside of the brewery. That kind of marketing situation is a great benefit.

It also gives them the opportunity to work closely with the kitchen at each location, perhaps producing beers that meld well with that particular Chef’s style or vision.

All of which gives Two Stones an excellent opportunity to scout beers that may become candidates to scale up at the larger brewery.

And it’s a wash financially for Two Stones as according to Robert there is very little licensing cost difference between that of a bar and that of a brewpub (depends on how you look at it. A restaurant license is $500 biannually, the lowest production brewpub/brewery license is $1500 for the same period). In fact, if Mike and Ben decide not to brew at their Delaware locations, very little would change – just a different license.

So this is a total win, right? Sadly not. The licensing change does have one downside to it which will be guaranteed to make Delaware craft beer fans unhappy. Section 512B Brewery-pubs of the regulations (again, emphasis mine) reads:

(b)(2)  It may brew, bottle, and sell beer at no more than 3 licensed establishments, provided that each such licensed establishment qualifies as a separate brewery-pub under this section

and:

(g)  The provisions of § 546 of this title to the contrary notwithstanding, the sale for off-premises consumption at up to a combined total of 3 licensees licensed under this section or 2 licensees licensed under this section and a microbrewery licensed pursuant to § 512C of this title all owned or controlled by the same person shall be permitted.

(As a quick point of clarification, since the 2SP microbrewery is licensed in PA, it doesn’t count in regards to – or 2 licensees licensed under this section and a microbrewery.)

This means that when the next Two Stones’ location opens up later this year in Hockessin,  it will be the third brewpub for the company; the most allowed by law for a common owner and the final Two Stones to open in the state of Delaware. When I commented to Mike that this was a shame because I know many people who would still love to have a Two Stones in Middletown, he replied that it wasn’t from a lack of trying.

“We are very upset we were not able to move into Middletown and we actually had signed the lease last year but then we were pushed out in favor of Green Turtle. I completely understand but chains seem much more preferential to a developer then a stand-alone unit independent proprietor. And just [to be] clear we did have a lease signed with the letter of intent but Green Turtle at the time was chosen over us as a preferred tenant.”

So there you go. The Delaware Two Stones Pub locations can now be officially referred to as brewpubs, although how much beer will actually be produced at each location is still under consideration by the owners and if it changes anything regarding the locations remains to be seen.

[The author would like to thank Mike Stiglitz and Robert Weist for their valuable time.]

Tasters – A New Series in Blogtography

This post starts a new semi-regular series dedicated to blogtography, in which I will share photos I’ve taken, but never used in one of my posts.  It’s a series idea that I shamelessly admit to stealing from other bloggers, that I hope will become a regular feature here at tDoB.  How regular? To be honest, I don’t know.  I’m going free form on this one.  Maybe it will come down to when I think I have enough pictures to share.

You’ll notice it’s blogtography and not beertography, there’s a reason behind that.  Although a lot of my photographs center around activities concerning the main focus of my blog, some do not.  So from time to time some non-beer stuff will sneak in here as well.  After all, when I started this blog it wasn’t supposed to be just about beer, it just sorta…turned out that way.

That means photos of me right?

No Buddy, that does not mean photos of you.

Oh come on!  I think as photo editor I should appear in at least one photo in every post about photography.

We’re not turning this into Buddytography.  Now back off.  I got this.

Oh, you mean like you “got” the clogged toilet the other day.

Hey, I don’t want to know what the hell someone put down there, but that flood was not my fault!  Now if you don’t mind…

So why is it called “Tasters”?  Well, craft beer bars will sometimes have little pours of beer that your can buy, 6oz, 8oz, big enough to really experience the beer, but not so big that you end up drinking more beer than you want.  In several of the bars I go to, these are referred to as tasters.  And that’s what most of these pictures will be; photos I took for reviews that I never wrote, or ideas for posts that never coalesced, events that never got their own write up, or simply photos I shared on Facebook and Twitter (yes even with the new camera some of these with be phonetographs), but never used in on my blog.  Little ideas that never became big ones, but are still worthy of a sentence or two.

I think that’s all you need to know.  So let’s do this…

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A glass of Stumbling Monk at Stewart’s Brewery.  If you’re ever in Delaware and it’s on tap, I highly recommend you stopping by.  It took me a few tries to get the refractions in focus.

 

Swing!
Swing into Spring.

 

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Not a great photo with the focus point at the pile of empty glasses on the bar.  But I love the clutter and the blur of motion.  I think it captures the commotion of Max’s Belgian Fest pretty well.

How come I’ve never been there?

Because dogs aren’t allowed.

What?!?! There are places like that? Don’t people know?  Why isn’t something being done about this!?

 

Two Stones Mug
I wish the edges of the mug were a little sharper in this one. Still, I like the composition of this picture I took at Two Stones Pub.

 

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I love “down the bar” shots, and thought this one was nice.  I would have liked the head of the beer to be a little more in focus however.  I always find that I like pictures of beer better if the head is sharp. Tria’s in Philly.

 

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Not a really good picture, but one with a good lesson.  If you’re going to take wine photos, remember to remove the price label first.

BAH !!!!!!!!! You left the price tag on!  Slick move, Ansel Adams!

Shut up.

Champagne on Sunday.
Champagne on Sunday.

 

We had homemade egg rolls the other night and when we were done, we had two wrappers left.  So Tracey mixed bananas, peanut butter and a little chocolate sauce; froze the mixture a bit, wrapped, and deep fried it.  Scary good.
We had homemade egg rolls the other night and when we were done, we had two wrappers left. So Tracey mixed bananas, peanut butter and a little chocolate sauce; froze the mixture a bit, wrapped, and deep fried it. Scary good.

 

Sabon Estate's Zinfandel Port.  Sharon at Total Wine recommended it to us for a wine dinner when we were asked to bring something that would go good with chocolate cake.  Sharon says that Sabon pairs well with anything chocolate, and in a pinch, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.
Sabon Estate’s Zinfandel Port. Sharon at Total Wine recommended it to us for a wine dinner when we were asked to bring something that would go good with chocolate cake. Sharon says that Sabon pairs well with anything chocolate, and in a pinch, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Highly recommended.

 

caption goes here
Flying Dog teamed up with CAO cigars to release a “Pairing Pack“, four cigars that are each paired with a different Flying Dog beer.  And although I couldn’t get a hold of the pack, my cigar store does sell CAO.  This is CAO’s “Gold” which they suggest pairing with Raging Bitch.  Although I’m not an expert on cigar/beer pairings, I will say that cigar was really good, and didn’t fight with the beer at all.

 

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
The required editor photo.

And the best picture of the bunch if I must say.

Shocking.  You’re just lucky I didn’t Photoshop a price sticker on your forehead.

Well that’s a good start I think.  Like I said, a majority of these are from “posts that could have been”, while others are just things I felt like taking a photo of.

He takes a lot of pictures of his food.

Shut up.

It’s REALLY embarrassing.

Go play.

The Local Tap – Two Stones Pub’s Brewery Ommegang Beer Dinner

Tracey and I don’t do a lot of beer dinners.  Not for any solid reason, we just don’t seem to get to many.  However, when she found out that Two Stones Pub was having an Ommegang tap take over plus a six course beer dinner paired with the beers from Brewery Ommegang on my birthday, well as she put it, “present obtained”.

The Board at Two Stones
The Board at Two Stones

If you’ve never been to a Two Stones’ beer dinner (and we hadn’t) the set up is nice.  Dinner is served in the back dinning room which is set up with large group tables to encourage comradery and discussion between the guests.  Chef Stigz and Chef Blair pop in and out of the kitchen to let you know about the course you are about to enjoy, and Ben is always in the room sharing his knowledge about the brewery, the beers and and what you can expect from the dinner in general.

Left : The Dinner Menu.  Right : Tracey waits patiently for me to take a shot so that she can drink  her beer.
Left : The Dinner Menu. Right : Tracey waits patiently for me to take the picture so that she can drink her beer.

The first course was simple, a cheese platter consisting of a dutch vintage 3-year gouda, valdeon, beemster 6-month goat cheese and a nice helping of Ommegang’s Hennepin.  There’s not really much to emote upon here, cheese and beer, do I really need to say anything?  Very good start.

Oyster Stew
Oyster Stew

The second course is were they started to kick it into gear – oyster stew.  I found their take on this classic dish to be very intriguing.  The broth was light and creamy, built on a base of carrots, celery and shallots; and didn’t have an overly powerful oyster flavor in it of itself.  No, the “oyster” in the oyster stew came from two large oysters that had been poached in Ommegang Hennepin.  This was delicious, and should make regular appearances on the everyday dinner menu.  Served with a glass of Ommegang’s Whitte.  Yummy.

Next up we had deviled eggs.  Ok, I’m not all in on deviled eggs.  Never have been.  But these weren’t my mom’s deviled eggs.  Served with black pepper bacon, shaved parmesan and micro greens, the eggs had a depth of flavor that would have be fine on their own.  But that would have be to easy.  Instead, they were served on a smear of lemon-garlic cream which may have just been one of the the best things I tasted that night.  Must. Have. Recipe.  We also had a chance to have a little good natured fun with this dish as ironically, this was the first time Stigz had ever cooked deviled eggs.  I’d say he did fairly well.   Served with a glass of Ommegang Rare Vos.

Deviled Eggs
Deviled Eggs

Time to step it up again.  Tea-smoked duck breast and foie gras bread pudding with a blackberry-cider jus.  I love duck, so I was very interested in this dish and, if you’ll excuse the use of a warn out and tired joke, the only thing wrong with it was that there wasn’t enough.  Oh don’t get me wrong, this wasn’t one of those dishes where the duck was hidden, but it was so tender and juicy that I just couldn’t get enough of it.  I wouldn’t have thought that the bread pudding would be something I would have greatly enjoyed, but with blackberry-cider jus, the whole dish came together nicely.  Could it be any better?  Sure, just add a glass of Ommegang’s Adoration.

Tea-Smoked Duck
Tea-Smoked Duck

Ok, I guess if you do enough dinners, even ones with top-notch chefs, sooner or later you’re going to hit a clunker.  Five-spice venison with wild mushroom ragout, leeks and red wine gastrique.  What could go wrong with that?  The venison was breaded (to me it even appeared to be pounded flat) and deep fried.   Anything I could say about this dish, I’ll simply chalk up to it simply not clicking with me, and the possible issues surrounding having to deep-fry 30 pieces of venison in a short time frame.  I’ve had venison many ways, and this one just didn’t resonate with me.  Tracey had the same reaction although she was having more issues with the five-spice I think than the preparation.  Still, what arrived with the venison was very good, and the red wine gastrique was very tasty.  And nothing from the above took away anything from the Ommegang Three Philosophers that came with it.

Dessert.  Well, almost.  Sadly we had to leave before dessert to pick my daughter up from a school activity.  But Ben, being the great man that he is, packed us up a couple of slices of the  apple caramel cheesecake along with a container of the chocolate-belgian stout reduction that was to be drizzled on them.  However, the containers had clear lids on them, so when we got home my daughter caught eye of said cheesecake.  Not being able to say no to my daughter (who had eaten very little because of her activity) I offered her one of the slices, on which she drizzled the reduction and then proceeded to devour it as if she’d never been feed before, asking when she could start coming to beer dinners (you got a ways to go there Ms Sixteen).  Seeing this, I found myself curious and prepped the second slice, eating half of it before Tracey could get into the room.  Being that she’d just started weight watchers, I’m hoping she saw this as a “I was saving you from all those nasty points” gesture, more than the “I gave my slice of cheesecake to my daughter and she said it was so good that I just said ‘Oh hell’ and ate half of yours’, lack of self-control and discipline that it actually was.  The only down note about the dessert was that it was supposed to be served with Ommegang’s Chocolate Indulgence, which sadly, I had zero bottles in the house.

Anyway, those who remember my write up on Pescatore’s Autumn Craft Beer Dinner know that I seem to have some “technical issues” when it comes to taking pictures of dessert, and this was no exception.  So instead I’ll just ask my editor to toss in a random picture.

IMAG1257

Thank you.

All in all the dinner was awesome.  Great food over all, great beer and a lot of fun.  I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for what dinners the guys at Two Stones have coming up in the future.

Time for another beer…..some Chocolate Indulgence I think…

The Local Tap – Belgian Week at Two Stones Pub

“The Board” – Day 5, Belgian Beer Week

While Wilmington Beer Week was in full swing, Newark DE wasn’t exactly lacking in beer happenings itself.  The guys over at Two Stones Pub had (they say by accident) also declared that week their “Belgian Beer Week”, twenty-four taps, all Belgian or American Belgian style, all week long.

The week started with what could pretty much be described as a Brewery Ommegang tap take over.  Co-owner Ben told me the previous week that Ommegang had really helped them out a lot as far as beers were concerned, and from what I saw as I perused the draft menu,  I could not have agreed more.

Through out the week such notables as Liefman’s, Timmerman’s, North Coast, DFH, Flying Dog, Allagash,  and Lefevbre went up on the chalkboard.  As kegs of Ommegang were killed they were replace by breweries such as 21st Amendment and Goose Island.

From Top Left (L,R,B) Ommegang BPA, Gnomegang, and Art of Darkness

However, as much as I enjoyed Ommegang and the rest of Belgian beers, I had one particular beer in my sights, a beer I love, one that you don’t normally see on tap around here.  So I kept an eye towards the Facebook page hoping to get a glimpse of it on an uploaded picture of their chalkboard or a mention of it in a status update.   I even asked Ben when he thought it would be on tap.  Then finally, on Friday, I found the following tweet on my phone at lunch time:

If one of the owners of your favorite local beer bar sends you a personal invite, it is totally rude not to accept.  So even though I’d just been in there the night before:

Two Stones Pub co-owner Ben, updating the board with Delirium Tremens
One of a few Deliriums I had that evening.

Thanks to the guys at Two Stones for once again tapping it up right.  Time for another beer….

The Local Tap – Tröegs Tap Take Over at Two Stones Pub

The Board at Two Stones Pub for the Troegs’ tap take over.

On July 17th, a few members of the Delaware Craft Beer and Wine Lovers met at Two Stones Pub for a Tröegs Brewing tap take over.

I started with Perpetual IPA.  In this case the “I” stands for “Imperial”, as the alcohol comes in at 7.5% ABV and the beer utilizes an impressive list of hops throughout the brewing process: Bravo, Chinook, Mt. Hood, Nugget, Citra, Cascade,  and Amarillo.

It’s a big beer, but well balanced.  I was debating on another but decided to go with a Dreamweaver Wheat  instead.  This beer, brewed in open top fermenters, hits all the check boxes; spice, clove, pepper and bananas.   Open top fermentation allows the brewery to skim off and collect the foam, or krausen, from the top of the wort during the fermentation process.  This krausen, containing yeast and wort proteins, is then used to start the fermentation of the next batch of Dreamweaver Wheat.  The brewery states on their website that this gives the beer stronger pepper and clove notes than traditional closed fermentation.  Seems to work!  Very refreshing.

Perpetual IPA. Cask on the left, keg on the right.

Two Stones Pub Co-owner Ben then asked if I wanted the first pour of Perpetual IPA on cask (who wouldn’t?), so after a toast between me, him and Troeg’s rep; I turned my focus to the cask ale in front of me and and a taster glass of the keg version for comparison.  I enjoyed the smooth creaminess from the cask version, although bartender Anna preferred the crispness of the keg.

Next up was Dead Reckoning  Porter.  I’m very fond of porters and this is a nice one.  From a pure “style” stand point, the light hop that peaks out behind the cocoa/chocolate malt might not be to everyone’s liking, but I didn’t mind it that much.

The final three beers were from Tröegs’ Scratch Beer Series.  This series is Tröegs’ way of doing small batch experiments with new processes and ingredients; and the beers are quiet often only available in Tröegs’ tasting room.  The beers are often simply refer to by style, but the series is also numbered with a code, xx-yyyy; with xx being the number of the batch in the series (starting at 1 and now sitting at 72) and yyyy being the year the beer was made.  The beer that started out as #4-2007, at first simply labeled “barleywine”, is now doing duty for the brewery as their Flying Mouflan.

The first was More Helles, Less Bock (#69-2012) a Helles/Bock/Maibock amalgamation that showed a complex nose and flavor; laced with malt, bread and maybe some honey.  This illustrates one of the sad things about hunting around for great beers, sometimes when you find one, you have to accept the fact that it will probably (sometimes definitely) be the last chance you have to enjoy it.  Really, really good.

The true “Clash of the Titans”

The final two beers have the distinction of being created as a result of a friendly(?) challenge by Tröegs to two legends in the craft beer world (and indeed, the PA/DE/NJ craft beer scene); Jack Curtin, beer columnist and the man behind Liquid Diet; and Lew Bryson, beer author and the man responsible for Seen Through the Glass , The Session Beer Project , and fellow survivor of the REC.FOOD.DRINK.BEER usenet group.   Each was challenged to brew a beer as part of Tröeg’s Scratch Beer Series, which was to be presented head-to-head as part of this year’s Philly beer week.  And of course, bragging rights were on the line.

First up was Jack Curtin’s Beire de Grouch (#66-2012), a Beire de Garde made with fresh cracked black pepper.  The French/Belgian influence was all over this beer with earthy notes amongst malt and yeast.  But the pepper was the real star here.  Both in the aroma and in the taste where it was just enough to give a warm pepper finish without over powering the rest of the flavors.  Awesome balance.  Great beer.

Finally, it was time for Lew’s beer,  Zwickel Licker (#68-2012) (note, the beer is WAY more fun to order when you are surrounded by women who have a great sense of humor) an unfiltered Dortmunder.  The beer is a pocket german lager with good amounts of malt, and a hop finish that’s crisp and clean.   There would be worst things in the world than sitting around a grill and drinking this all day long.

The winner?  Sadly, I’ve been informed by my editor that since I was not contacted to serve as an official judge in what was obviously a very serious competition, I can’t say.  But he has agreed  to put up a picture.

The Winner!!

Thanks to Two Stones Pub for another great tap take over.  Thanks to Tröegs for the great beers.  And thanks to Tröegs’ rep for the beer swag (pint glasses, key chains, etc).  Shout out to new DCBaWL member Mike for stopping by.  Always great to meet new members, especially when they’re a fellow Doctor Who fan.

Time for another beer…..

Delaware Bars Weigh in on Mug Club Issue.

As me and a ton of others posted last week, Pennsylvennia regulators have asked Iron Hill Brewery to amend its mug club practices to conform with state regulations.  And even though PA is so far the only state asking for changes, Iron Hill has decided to realign its mug club in all locations, including those in Delaware.

I sent emails to two prominent establishments in the Delaware craft beer scene to ask for their input on this change, keeping in mind that this is at the moment, squarely a PA issue and not a Delaware one.

Michael Stiglitz from Two Stones Pub was the first to weight in with the following

“Certainly if DE goes the route of PA we will adhere to any regulation changes.”

I recently received an email from Al Stewart from Stewart’s Brewing who echoed

“I am unaware of any PA or DE pressure to change mug club requirements but I will be meeting with the Iron Hill folks later this month.”

I am one to believe that our local establishments did their due diligence when setting up their mug clubs, so I don’t fear any involvement from Delaware regulators.  If anything I hope that this issue with Iron Hill does nothing more than to affirm that our Delaware watering holes have their ducks in a row.  Because I can’t say anything better than what Al said himself,

“We originally started the mug club to reward the local, frequent diner/drinker for their loyal support. It is a fun group of folks that feel that they are a great part of the atmosphere of Stewarts and I would hate to see the government take a stand for no good reason.”

Thanks to both Michael and Al for taking the time to respond to my email and weighing in on this topic.

Delaware Beer News : DE Iron Hill Locations to Change Mug Club System Due to PA Regulators’ Requests

PA regulators apparently had nothing better to do then pick on Iron Hill’s Mug Club practices.

For ten  years a heinous crime has been repeatedly committed in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  Apparently, regulators in that state have decided that Iron Hill Brewery and Restaurant, which operates 10 locations, 6 in PA have been illegally rewarding members of their Mug Club.

The two issues that seem to be at the heart of the regulators contention are the rewards points that Mug Club members get every time they buy beer (but not merchandise, or gift cards), and the extra free 8oz that Mug Club members get.

Although the issues were purely with PA regulators, Iron Hill will revamp their Mug Club to comply with the new guidance at ALL Iron Hill locations.  All members of the Mug Club received this email message a copy of which was also placed on their website:

We are currently revising the club to meet the regulator’s demands. During the transition from one club to another, the Mug Club will continue to function but with some important changes.

Mug Club Transition Changes

New Memberships cannot be purchased during the transition
All current memberships due for renewal during the transition will be extended until the new club is active
Members will be gifted 500 new points immediately
Members can no longer receive points for the purchase of alcohol
Members continue to earn points on all other purchases (excluding tax, tip and gift cards)
Members will continue to drink from the Mug Club mug, but must pay the same price as a non-member (an additional 50 cents)

Unchanged Mug Club Benefits

Exclusive use of handmade Mug Club mugs
Earn a $25 credit for each 300 points accrued
Redeem credits to pay for any food and beverage purchases, including alcohol
Invitations to exclusive, members-only Mug Club events
Email communication from your head brewer
Track points and member profile online
We are currently looking at a variety of options and we hope to have a new customer rewards program in place this fall.

All unused points will roll over to the new club.

Please discuss any questions or concerns with a manager or click on Inquiries/Comments button above. You may also click on the Mug Club Questions button above for further information.

You can find the full PLBC findings here.

The quick and the dirty at this time seems to be that Iron Hill Mug Club members are just going to have to pony up an extra ¢50 for their beer.  I’m sure most of them can afford it, but it’s a shame that regulators felt the need to crack down on a promotion that’s been in existence for 10 years.

I’ve sent Emails to both Stewart’s Brewpub and Two Stones Pub to see if they have any concerns of Iron Hill’s fall out with PA regulators drifting across state lines into Delaware (outside of the two Iron Hill locations in DE) although both beer spots operate their Mug Clubs differently from Iron Hill.  Two Stones Pub quickly replied, stating simply that they would adhere to any regulation changes if any should occur.

The Local Tap – Allagash Tap Take Over at Two Stones Pub

The Board at Two Stones

Last week the Delaware Craft Beer and Wine Lovers group met at Two Stones Pub, Newark for an Allagash (WEB:FACEBOOK:TWITTER) tap take over.  Thirteen different beers were on tap that night plus some special bottles floating around.  It was great to meet three new members of the DCBaWL as well as spending some talking to craft beer friends both old and new.

I’m not going to try and hide our fondness for Allagash, I think they make solid beers.  Their Four is always a go to beer for me, and Tracey is happy anywhere that has their White on the beer menu.  But tonight was about getting the chance to taste some beers that we normally don’t get to see (and some we may never see again).

I started the evening with a mug of the White.  One, because it was the only Allagash beer they were serving in mugs and I needed to wash the taste of work out of my mouth, and two, so I could send Tracey a picture of it to encourage her to ditch work ASAP and come get some.

After that, time to switch to tasters and try some beers.  First up was a side by side of Thing 1 and Thing 2 an attempt to brew two beers from the same base wort.  Thing 1 is styled as a Belgian table beer at about 5% ABV.  From the wort of Thing 1, 7 bbls were diverted to another tank to which regular sugar, dark candi sugar were added and some dark grains were added to steep.  Both beers were good but I liked Thing 2 better, having a little more depth in the flavor.  We’re off to a good start.

Saison Mihm

Next in line for some side to side was Victor and Victoria.  Both beers are part of Allagash’s Tribute Series with moneys from both beers going to two different charities.  While both beers are described as “Belgian Strong ales brewed with grapes”, they’re actually quite different.  Victoria is brewed with a Belgian yeast and has over 200lbs of Chardonney grapes added to the mash, while Victor has over 100lbs of cabernet franc grapes added and is fermented with a wine yeast.  Between the two I had to give the nod to Victoria as I found Victor to have a slight “Welch’s grape juice” note that is not a favorite of mine.  Tracey waved me off however, stating that she liked the flavor of Victor and finding more complex than Victoria’s.

Next we decided it was time to take a break from the taste comparisons, so I ordered a Saison Mihm a beer brewed with honey, juniper berries, and lemongrass.  I’m always dubious of beers brewed with juniper beers because I don’t like when the beer gets to “ginny”.  But Mihm was nice, with a nice sweetness, none of the flavors over powering the other, and a bright finish.  It would have be interesting to try this side by side against Four to see if it could displace it as my favorite beer.

Can you tell which on is Bourbon barrel aged.

Back to side by sides we go as we compared their Belgian stout Black, against its bourbon aged twin.  Most of you know my feelings on bourbon beers by now, but I actually felt confident going into this tasting since Allagash makes one of my fav bourbon beers, Curieux.  Indeed, I liked the bourbon Black as I didn’t find it over powering, but the normal Black is pretty good as well.  Tough call here.  Might be a draw.

After that I needed something to bitch-slap my palette so I went with Old HLT.  What do you do with a large stainless steal tank sitting in the corner doing nothing?  Why you put 30 barrels of beer in it along with 2000lbs of cherries and let it sit for 2 years, what else?  This was very nice, with tart cherries and earthiness.

Next was Yakazu, a Belgian triple dry hopped with Cascade and Sorachi Ace.  Definite tropical fruit notes mingle with the Sorachi Ace in the style of the triple.  Nice beer.

Sometime during all this, co-owner Ben opened a bottle of Prince Tuesday and slid me a taste.  The beer is a collaboration beer between Allagash/Maine Beer/Rising Tide and brewed with Maine Rye.  It was a nice tasting beer and I wish I could have had a little more.  Apparently it was only distributed in Maine, so thanks to whoever brought the bottle.

Pretty much beered out at that point, I grabbed a glass of the Four and walked around touching base with some craft beer and twitter peeps.  The Allagash tap take over ranks up there is the best Two Stones have done, which is a testament to the quality of beers Allagash is producing.  Troeg’s is on tap for next month, and they’re going to have a tough act to follow.

Time for another beer…

The Local Tap – Flying Fish Tap Take Over at Two Stones Pub

Last Thursday members of the “Delaware Craft Beer and Wine” facebook group meet at Two Stones Pub for a tap take over from NJ brewers Flying Fish.  The group turn out was good, with some frequent attendees making an appearance as well as some new faces.  The crowd was lively and the place was ready to try some beers from Flying Fish.

The Chalk Board at Two Stones.

Flying Fish from Camden NJ, caught my eye awhile ago by virtue of their “Exit” series.  An ambitious multi-year project, the brewery hopes to brew a beer for each exit of the NJ turnpike.  Each beer being its own distinct style based on something interesting from  the area around the exit.  I really wanted to try all these as they came out, but sadly I’ve been lax in keeping my eyes open for them.  Being an “Exit 1” born and raised NJ boy, I of course had to try their Exit 1 Bayshore Oyster Stout which I remember enjoying.

Cheers!

But tonight was all about their recent release, Exit 8 – their Chestnut Brown Ale.  This was its Delaware premiere.  Our state got two kegs, and guess who got’em? From the brewery:

To celebrate Exit 8, one of our big farming areas, we’ve brewed a beer that
uses a lost local ingredient: chestnuts–and a popular current one: local honey.
This full-bodied hybrid Belgian-style brown ale brings forward a nutty character
from the chestnuts, accented by the flavors of honey, roasted barley and oat
flakes. There’s a nice spiciness from the Mt. Rainier hops while Chinooks add a
touch of pine. Fuggles and Columbus round out the hop profile.

While we sipped it, much discussion ensued.  I thought the beer was ok, but a little off to be a brown (maybe that’s where the term hybrid comes into play).  I got hints of honey and spice in it, as well as something that probably was the chestnuts.   It didn’t blow me away, but there was definitely enough there to warrant a focused revisit when I get my hands on a bottle (I’ll be fair to the brewery and post a better review when I do).  As a matter of fact, I found most of the beers from Flying Fish solid but nothing extraordinary.

I went into the take over believing that Exit 4, their American Triple, is far and away the best beer they make.  And nothing I had that night (Extra Pale, Farmhouse, ESB and Exit 8) changed that opinion.  Exit 4 is simply awesome, with it citrus notes and hint of cloves.  It won a Gold Medal at the 2009 at the GABF, and Flying Fish was smart enough to make it a year round offering.  And luckily, it was on draft that night.  Great stuff.

Another awesome event from the guys at Two Stones.  I can’t wait to see who they’ve got coming in next.

Time for another beer.

The Local Tap : Evolution Brewing Tap Take Over @ Two Stones Pub

The Tap Board at Two Stones - Evolution Heavy!!

On January 4th Two Stones Pub continued its tap take over series with Delaware’s relative newcomer, Evolution Brewing.  Evolution sprang up in Delmar, Delaware when Tom and John Knorr brought in Boston brewmaster Geoff DeBisschop and quickly built up a brewing line that produces about 3500 barrels a year according to their website.  On this evening, Tom Knorr showed up to hang out with craft beer lovers and showcase 12 of Evolution’s finest.  And the dogs were there.  Chuck and I arrived around 5, with The Beer Goddess and Tracey joining us shortly after.  After a bit we were joined by Patrick from Beer Delaware and the evening got rolling.

I started with a mug of Lucky 7 porter.  I love porters, and this is a nice one with its chocolate tones.  Next I had a Secret Spot.  From what I gathered this is a tap only winter beer.  Pity, because this malty beer with a light floral hop ending was very good!  I hope one day it will make its way into bottles, because I’d take it to some Christmas parties for sure.  Next up was Menagerie #3, a scotch ale blend where part of the blend is aged in bourbon barrels for 6 months.  You should know by now that I’m not a fan of the whole “bourbon barrel” craze.  Mostly because I feel a lot of brewers are heavy handed with it.  But if any beer style was meant to marry well with a touch of bourbon sweetness and smokiness, I believe that it’s scotch ale – and this was a nice one.  The bourbon flavor was evident amongst the maltiness of the the ale which included some nice vanilla notes.   After that it was time to switch up a bit so I ordered a glass of what Evolution brought on cask – Lot #6, dry hopped with Williamette and Chinook hops.  This can only be described as a mouthful of hops, and it indeed cleaned my palate of the dark beer I’d just had.  Next up was Morning Wood, an oatmeal stout with coffee aged in bourbon barrels.  Yes, there was those damn barrels again and coffee, another flavor I’m not fond of.  But this was pretty tasty.  All the flavors balanced well together and brought out the best of each other.  I’d have this again.  Maybe bourbon beers are growing on me.  Nahhhhhh.

When talking to Tom Knorr it was obvious that he was proud of his product and happy to see Two Stones packed with craft beer lovers enjoying Evolution’s line of beers.  When I asked him about the brewery’s up coming move to Maryland, Tom didn’t seem too phased by the prospect.  “We’re just moving down the road a bit,” he said with a sly smile.  Sounds good Tom, as long as we can still get your beers here in Delaware.

Time for another beer.