When Dogfish Head Craft Brewery Owner Sam Calagione was actively building his Rehoboth Beach brewpub, he did not know brewing was illegal in Delaware. In this quick video, Calagione recounts the big day he went to the brewpub to take down the old sign of the last failed restaurant when some passerby (upon asking what he planned for the new business) informed him it was illegal to brew commercially in the state. In fact, in 1995, Calagione was weeks away from opening Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats when he found out, so he ended up creating a bill that eventually made brewing commercially legal in Delaware. It’s great craft beer lore, but there is still work to be done.
A new law from Rep. William Carson is finally allowing Delaware craft distilleries, wineries and breweries the ability to offer glasses of products from other Delaware craft beverage makers. It’s a long time coming. HB 373 allows the 30-plus alcohol producers in the state to share and sell Delaware made beer, wine, cider, mead, whiskey, gin and beyond. Distributors are cool with it, but the aforementioned Dogfish Head is still not yet participating as it does already make a variety of beer and spirits all on its own. From Delaware Online:
The bill did not face resistance from the state’s alcohol distributors because language in the bill was specifically crafted to keep the state’s three-tier distribution in place. That means the state’s breweries, wineries, distilleries, meaderies and cideries would not be able to directly sell to each other but would have to go through a third party. That means everyone involved in the production, distribution and sale of the product would benefit.
Dogfish Head has not yet jumped into the action, but representatives say they are open to participating down the road.