With threats of rain and wind burst pushing 30 mph, I decided to be baptized and have my cherry popped. Fortunately the first 15 miles were only overcast and lightly windy. After the ceremonious dipping of wheel set in ocean, I loaded up and rode away. But couldn’t find my starting point with my fancy GPS so it took about five minutes to settle in. Once settled, it was easy cruising on Delaware’s extremely flat and wide shouldered roads. Shoulders that are almost 6 feet wide make for safe and pleasant cycling.
As I pulled up to Dogfish Head in Milton, I was greeted by the smells of wood fueled BBQ and friendly faces. After introducing myself to the bartender and other guests (and having a quick sample or two, as I was thirsty), the tour started. Its amazing how much has changed in four years, although I was informed it was amazing what happened in one year. New brewery all together, and they kept the old one (old was 100bbl the new is 200bbl). My favorite fact is they now brew as much beer in one day as Sam did in the first three years of the Pub. I also learned that they use around 12 different yeast strains (managed in their world class yeast propagation room); there is a new Palo Santo vessel (now the only two in the world); a pneumatic device is responsible for the continual hop additions; and that there is only one KY bourbon barrel in the brewery (at least that I could discover). Post tour included a spicy espresso brat, more samples and a pint of India Brown.
I left Dogfish in great spirits for a long ride to Dover and Dominion/Fordham brewery. About a mile outside of Milton the rain started. And it rained, occasionally as a sprinkle, sometimes steady, sometimes pelting, but it rained. Then the wind. Then the fatigue. I did great for the first 20 miles; but the last 15 hurt. My legs became jelly and cramped; I drank all of my water; was hungry; got chills; realized I was drenched to the core. Then I arrived at the brewery, where there was one car and no one home. Fortunately I timed it perfectly as the brewer, Chris, was leaving for the day. There was no tasting as the compressor had broken. Chris was kind enough to give me a couple bottles of their World Beer Cup winning Candi Belgian Tripel.
Elated to have beer and know that the end of my first day was near, I rode to the nearest hotel. It was full. So then to the next hotel which had a room and a warm shower. After the shower I realized how exhausted I was. I was hungry but couldn’t eat; fortunately I could drink, water, that is. I barely managed to consume one beer, not because it wasn’t delicious, but my stomach was revolting. After settling in and ordering food, all was better. A couple of beers later and it was good night. The next day is planned to be through Newark DE although I may stay there. After all, there are two more breweries there.