First State Brew Tours | An Inside Look at Delaware Craft Brewing

Get an insider’s look at Delaware’s local craft beverages with First State Brew Tours as your designated driver.

[Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, and I will earn a commission if you purchase through those links at no additional cost to you. The author was also provided complimentary tour admission. All thoughts and opinions are my own and honestly provided.]

First State Brew Tours

Serving northern Delaware and the Greater New Castle County area, First State Brew Tours allows guests to visit small business craft beverage producers in a fun (and safe!) way. The company is co-owned by local meadery & cidery producers Terri Sorantino & Dr. Jeffrey Cheskin, and started as a way to mutually support the myriad of local brewers, meaderies, cideries, and distillers in the area. It’s more than just a transportation service though: Each tour is 4-6 hours long, and the all-inclusive fee includes tastings, tours of the facilities, and extra time to purchase additional drinks and merchandise at each location (often at a discount).

While looking to expand in the future, First State Brew Tours regularly offers three different public tours, each stopping at different locations. They also offer private, personally customizable tours on the fourth weekend of every month. Participating breweries currently include Liquid Alchemy (owned by Terri & Jeff), Wilmington Brew Works, Bellefonte Brewing Company, Argilla Brewing Company, Dew Point Brewing Company, Twin Lakes Brewing Company, Midnight Oil Brewery, Blue Earl Brewing, and Painted Stave Distilling.

A Special Historic Brew Tour

Last month, I had the privilege of joining First State Brew Tours on a special Historic Brew Tour led by local historian John Medkeff. Between tastings and tours at Liquid Alchemy in Wilmington and the craft brewery Dew Point Brewing in Yorklyn, John led us on a journey through the history of brewing and distilling in the area. Author of the informative Brewing in Delaware, John certainly knows his stuff.

John Medkeff teaching an attentive crowd.
All that remains of the Spring Hill Brewery.

The tour itself was lovely, full of friendly faces and informed hosts. After a behind-the-scenes look and delicious tasting at our first stop, we boarded a comfortable bus at Liquid Alchemy and traveled to the former sites of Joel Bryant’s meadery for a bit of Wilmington history. We then traveled to the ruins of the Spring Hill Brewery. This site is located on land privately owned by the Mt. Cuba Center, who graciously allowed our visit to the otherwise off-limits location.

Full of new knowledge, we headed to Dew Point Brewing Co., located in an old snuff mill in Yorklyn, DE. A beautiful spot for a drink and picnic, Dew Point Brewing offered a variety of bitter beers in a comfortable space. Last but not least, we headed back to our starting point, where Liquid Alchemy was bustling with patrons. Many of us stayed for a final drink and some food, courtesy of a local mac & cheese maker serving that evening.

Restore the King

Proceeds for this special tour benefited Restore The King, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit whose mission is to restore the former Diamond State Brewery’s 135-year-old King Gambrinus statue. According to legend, Gambrinus – the so-called “King of Beer” – was first popularized in mid-19th century Europe, especially as statues outside German breweries. The fundraiser’s website explains:

“Quite naturally, when German immigrants settled in the United States in the mid-to-late 1800s and opened breweries, they brought that tradition with them. Dozens of breweries constructed in the late 19th century…were adorned with the legendary King Gambrinus.”

Statue of Gambrinus outside Diamond State Brewery, c. 1947 (DE Historical Society)

After years of being told that the zinc statue was lost, John came upon the 60-some-odd pieces of the 11-foot-tall statue in June of 2015. Since then, he’s been working with the Friends of Delaware’s Gambrinus Statue to put the pieces back together, replace any missing pieces with 3-D zinc printings, and donate the end result to the Delaware Historical Society for presentation and preservation. Full restoration will cost upwards of $100k; a reasonable price considering the current state of the statue. Visit the official Restore the King website for more information on this fascinating piece of Delaware history.

I certainly had a wonderful time on my trip with First State Brew Tours, and I look forward to taking others in the future. Take a weekend (or three) and travel with First State Brew Tours for an insider’s look into Delaware’s craft beverage industry. You won’t be disappointed.

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