As a married beverage writer who travels quite frequently for work, admittedly, I can be pretty terrible at maintaining my relationship duties. (My wife, Debbie, might say even that assessment is generous.) So when I learned that Dogfish Head Brewery recently opened its very own inn in Lewes, Delaware, I was hit with inspiration: What if I could turn an assignment to cover one of the greatest beer-producers in the world into a romantic escape with m'lady? Debbie may not be a huge drinker, but I happen to know that Dogfish Head is an excellent gateway brewery: the brand's culinary-themed inspirations and collaborations with other non-beer-related brands make it accessible to even tepid beer drinkers.
And so, I ventured with my wife from our home in New York City to the ale-themed hotel in an attempt to spin a stay there – and all self-indulgent visits to nearby brewery-owned attractions – into a sexy rekindling of our love for one another. Below is a play-by-play of the twenty-hour vacation. Follow my lead if you want to trick – er, woo your partner too.
6:15pm - The Dogfish Inn, Lewes, DE
After an uneventful four-hour drive, we arrive at the Inn. The corner on which it's situated just off the highway is not especially beautiful, but Lewes itself is charming as all hell: Debbie is already cooing over the waterfront views and quaint little shops. Lewes also happens to be the town in which Dogfish founder Sam Calagione lives. While he does not pre-sleep in all hotel beds to stay close to his fans (just a suggestion, Sam), he does show up to a communal campfire near the parking lot from 5-6PM on any Saturday during which he's in town (we missed him, arriving on a Thursday).
Rustically styled by Dogfish Head and Brooklyn's Studio Tack, our room looks like a sleepaway camp bunk for a classy bachelor. We also notice a delightful woodsy scent in the air, which happens to be the Juniper Ridge Sierra Granite Cabin Room Spray hotel caretakers spritz in every room before guests arrive. The warm, piney aroma is reminiscent of a mountain log cabin, and Deb begins voicing pleasant flashbacks to summer camp. So far, Counselor Ethan is killing it.
The one surprising disappointment so far is that, despite its ownership, the Inn offers no beer for purchase. Apparently the property didn't come equipped with a liquor license, and Calagione decided not to apply for one out of respect to his friends and neighbors who own the nearby restaurants and bars that serve Dogfish Head beer. Each room does, however, provide guests with all the tools they'll need to bring beer to their rooms, such as an empty growler and a mounted bottle opener.
Other nice touches include the pretty wool blanket on our bed (a collaboration with Woolrich), and a beer infused soap made from a reduction of Dogfish's 60 minute IPA and olive oil in partnership with local soapmakers The Parsonage. This luxury item must be an expensive giveaway, but it seems Dogfish would rather spend money on usable accouterments than on frivolous decorations or fancy furniture. Fine with me, as Debbie is already washing her face with the stuff, moaning, "Mmm, it smells so good -- I want it all over me!"
I decide to take a cold shower before we head out for the brewery.
7:00PM – Dogfish Head Brewery, Milton, DE
Brewery tours can be painfully boring for those who aren't especially into beer. But if you butter up your partner with an incredible tasting of intriguing food-infused beers, you'd be able to drag him or her through a tire factory tour without protest.
We start our tasting with the Chocolate Lobster, a robust porter brewed with live lobsters and dark cocoa powder—Debbie is intrigued. As we make our way through the draught list, she is shocked at how relatable each innovative each beer is, but most enamored with Festina Pêche, a tart Berliner Weisse brewed with fresh peaches.
By the time we embark on a tour of the brewery with Bar Lead Dwayne Johnson (no relation to The Rock), Debbie is oohing and ahhing at pieces of equipment even I find uninteresting. To seal the deal, I compliment her on how cute she looks in the brewery-issued protective clogs she's been required to wear on her feet, and she blushes. (Though it could just be the alcohol.)
Said oohing and ahhing
8:05PM – Chesapeake & Maine, Rehoboth Beach, DE
It only makes sense that a brewery at the forefront of infusing beer with food would use beer in the dishes at its own restaurant. Such is the case at Dogfish's Chesapeake & Maine, a seafood eatery featuring dishes such as mussels steamed with Namaste wheat beer, and lobster-beef burgers with "beernaise" sauce. But it's the smoke-infused oysters, raised in smoked sea salt-infused water, that really get the party going. At least, that's what I'm hoping as I feed my wife delicious aphrodisiac after aphrodisiac on the half shell.
Best of all, the oysters go perfectly well with Dogfish's Seaquench Ale, a thirst-quenching blend of Kolsch, Gose, and Berlinerweiss brewed with lime, Chesapeake sea salt, and coriander. It's literally the liquid embodiment of the entire restaurant.
I offer my wife a keg-conditioned cocktail made from Dogfish's Analog Vodka or Compelling Gin, but she's already two-thirds deep into a pint of Midas Touch, a beer-wine-mead hybrid that she can't stop raving about. I've never before seen Debbie trade spirits for beer – but then again, she hadn't been to Delaware yet.
Related: 5 WOEFULLY UNDERRATED BEER STYLES
10:32PM – Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats, Rehoboth Beach, DE
By the time Debbie is rolling me out of the restaurant and down the street to Dogfish's original brewpub, I have no idea how I can eat or drink anything else. That is, until I notice an exclusive brew on the menu called Beer for Breakfast, a version of Dogfish's Chicory Stout (made with Mexican coffee, chicory, and licorice root), souped up with lactose sugar, maple syrup, wood-smoked barley, dark roast coffee, and Rapa scrapple. That's right: beer made with actual mushed pig parts!
In describing the beer to Debbie, a pescetarian, I decide to omit this ultimate ingredient as she takes her first sip. But guilt overtakes me, and before the beautiful, innocent woman puts the glass to her lips for another taste, I make the revelation. Shockingly, she says, with a shrug, "It's good."
WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO MY WIFE??
We finish the rest of the beer together while bobbing our heads to a live performance from a New Orleans funk band called Big Sam's Funky Nation, and take a growler of the stuff to go.
11:25PM - The Dogfish Inn, Lewes, DE
We return to our hotel room with every intention of heading to the fire pit to play a game of corn hole and enjoy our Beer For Breakfast stash, but never make it out.
9:15AM – Nectar Café & Juice Bar, Lewes, DE
Upon waking up, we head straight for the hotel office, where we check out and grab cups of Dogfish Chicory Stout coffee, made with Munich malt and chicory, to go.
Our final stop before heading back to New York is Nectar, the cutest little breakfast spot you'll ever see in your whole damned life. It's not affiliated with Dogfish Head, but is a must-visit stop for fresh fruit juice, blueberry pancakes, and darling little containers of jam and honey that you will have no choice but to buy – not only to enjoy at home, your partner will explain, but to keep as souvenirs from a beer-fueled overnight getaway that won't soon be forgotten.