Market Street Joins the Craft Brew Revolution

Brainchild of two Wilmington natives, Stitch House combines microbrewery and pub

In 2016, the Brewers Association—a not-for-profit trade association dedicated to small and independent American brewers—reported that, on average, Delawareans drink 11.1 gallons of craft beer annually, good for sixth in the nation. Additionally, since 2007, the BA has tracked the number of breweries operating in each state, with Delaware’s total jumping from just seven to more than 20 in that span.

Obviously, Delaware’s beer drinkers not only support the craft industry, but with each passing year, they’re thirsty for more.

Enter Stitch House Brewery, which will give Wilmington’s Market Street its own microbrewery. Expected to open early this month, Stitch House is the product of local entrepreneurs Dan Sheridan and Rob Snowberger. The Delaware natives will join forces with Head Brewer Andrew Rutherford, who worked for more than a decade at Yards Brewery in Philadelphia.

Sheridan has been around the Delaware dining scene for quite a while, having worked at La Fia on Market Street, after which he opened Locale BBQ Post as well as the Wilmington Pickling Company. Snowberger, meanwhile, is a former Navy SEAL who also attended the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. The two grew up together in Wilmington and were raised by fathers who worked for the city.

The full-scale restaurant will seat upwards of 170, including 40-plus in the bar area and a back room for private dining.

“We’d talked about opening a place together for years, but Rob was the first one to see this site at 829 Market through his connections with the Buccini/Pollin Group (BPG),” says Sheridan. “When I first took a look at the building, I knew there would be a lot of work to do. Fitting out four floors to fit apartments and a huge brewpub and brewery was an enormous undertaking.” (Stitch House encompasses the first floor and part of the basement for storage, while BPG outfitted the upper two floors for apartments to lease.) 

Seating for 170-plus

That work would include months of renovations and construction on a building erected in 1909 that had served, at various times, as a coal house, ice house, tailor shop, and even a linen shop. Sheridan and Snowberger, after discovering the building’s past lives, decided on Stitch House, as a tribute to its history. The result is a full-scale restaurant that will seat upwards of 170, including more than 40 in the bar area and a back room for private dining.

“The guys at BPG told me they wanted to open up a microbrewery on Market Street, to specifically cater to all that was going on downtown, especially the huge Residences at Mid-Town Park project right outside our back door,” says Sheridan. “Once I understood the scope of that project, I went with it.”

According to Buccini/Pollin, the Residences at Mid-Town Park will feature 200 luxury studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments, with a 511-space parking garage below and 12,000 square feet of ground floor retail along Shipley Street. The parking garage is expected to open this month, and the first phase of the apartments is expected to be ready in June, with the remainder finishing up over the summer.

Once Sheridan and Snowberger embarked on their new culinary journey, they quickly began scouring the area for an experienced brewer looking for a new challenge. Fortunately, they were able to woo Rutherford, a 10-year veteran at Yards.

“I was in a rut and needed a change, so I began entertaining the idea of making a move and maybe recapturing a little creative freedom in the brewery,” says Rutherford. “The guys came to me with their plan for Stitch House and we just jelled. This is a good fit and I’m really excited to see what we can accomplish on Market Street.”

Sheridan and Snowberger are ecstatic to have been able to bring on Rutherford, who put in many 18- and 20-hour days leading up to the restaurant’s opening. “The guy is a machine,” says Sheridan. “He’s super talented and we are beyond excited to have him on our team.”

Rutherford says that to start, Stitch House will fill nine of its 12 taps with house brews, including a lager, pilsner, stout, IPA and pale ale, among others. The remaining three taps will be filled with local brews, and they will only offer draft beer, rather than any outside bottles or cans.

Adds Sheridan: “Our hope is to have all the taps filled with our own beers by late in the spring, and then begin offering crowlers (large cans) to customers, so they can take our beer with them.”

Head Brewer Andrew Rutherford previously brewed for 10 years at Yards Brewing Co.

Adding a Smoker

As for the menu, Sheridan, a chef by trade, will focus on catering to the downtown lunch crowd; several sandwiches, burgers and paninis will be featured, as well as skillet dishes like dips, nachos, and even scallops and the increasingly popular sautéed Brussels sprouts. While they’re forgoing a pizza oven (found at many brewpubs), Sheridan says an on-site smoker will contribute heavily to the menu.

“I don’t necessarily want to do barbecue, because I leave that to Locale BBQ, but I do want to offer a lot of good smoked meats that will be seasoned and prepared to specifically pair with our beers,” he says. “The skillet dishes are designed for sharing and will fall into the comfort food category because we want to establish a laidback vibe here.”

The interior features murals and beer menu boards designed by Against the Grain Arts, of Wilmington, a logo designed by Snowberger’s sister, Molly, and design work by Stokes Architecture, of Philadelphia. Many of the high-top bar tables and booths were crafted by the Challenge Program, a Wilmington-based organization that offers at-risk teens the opportunity to learn life skills like carpentry and construction.

Many of the tables and booths were crafted by the Challenge Program.

Stitch House will be open seven days a week and possibly for brunch on the weekends. Sheridan says they will offer some sort of discounted parking validation at the Parking at Mid-Town garage, as well as some other Colonial Parking garages in the city. They are also looking into the possibility of offering valet service on weekends.

 

Sips

Here’s what’s pouring

Golden Wine Event

FranksWine, at 1206 N. Union St. in Wilmington, is celebrating 30 years in 2017. And that’s not all. This month, FranksWine is hosting a fundraiser—a pop-up Golden Wine Event on Saturday, Feb. 11.

After a five-year break, the event is back at Harry’s Savoy Ballroom at 2020 Naamans Rd. Twenty vendors will be pouring wine that comes from various regions, and guests are invited to meander from station to station—which include craft beer from four local brewers. Overall, the drink menu comprises 80 wines and 16 craft brew selections.

Tickets are $100, and $25 of each ticket and 100 percent of the proceeds from the FranksWine Big Bottle Silent Auction will be donated to Kids Runway for Research, which raises awareness and support for The Nemours Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders.

The event runs from 6:30-9:30 p.m. Get tickets at frankswine.com.

Bob’s 1st Ale is Back

From now through March 30, the South Burlington, Vt. Magic Hat Brewing Company’s Bob’s 1st Ale—the brewery’s inaugural 1994 ale, originally dubbed Magic Hat Ale—is back. Magic Hat has moved away from its seasonal brews, which the ale was originally among, and is introducing the Limited Run series, offering beers from its vault that have been fan and staff favorites over the years. The rotation of the series will have a two-month window for each—totaling five brews for this year. An Irish-style, deep ruby red ale at 4.6 percent ABV, Bob’s 1st is fermented with the brewery’s 150-year-old strain of top-fermenting English yeast. Find the brew at local liquor stores.

dogfish-head-flesh-blood-ipa-canned1Dogfish Head Canned Flesh & Blood IPA

Brewed with a ratio of fruit, freshly-squeezed juice, and Northwest citrusy-hop varieties, Flesh & Blood India Pale Ale—Dogfish Head’s newest year-round brew—is now available at local liquor stores. Clocking in at 7.5 percent ABV and 45 IBUs, and exclusively available in six-pack cans, Flesh & Blood is crafted with orange peel, lemon flesh and an aromatic blood orange juice, resulting in a balanced and zesty ale.

Dogfish remains consistent in its use of all-natural culinary products in which consumers can easily identify the whole ingredient and trust in the freshness of fruits and vegetables, and thoughtfully sourced spices.

“Because we derive flavors and aromas from actual fruits you would recognize at your local farmers market and not jugs or buckets of flavoring created in a laboratory, you will not see statements like ‘brewed with natural flavors’ or ‘natural flavors added’ on our labels,” says Sam Calagione, Dogfish Head founder and CEO.

Flesh & Blood represents more than 21 years of commitment to tweaking and perfecting the fruit IPA style. Dogfish Head is a leading pioneer in this arena; it was the first American brewery to package and ship fruit IPAs nationally.

“We’ve been experimenting with fruit and citrus IPAs since 1996 when we released Aprihop, an IPA brewed with apricots,” Calagione says. “We think the fruit IPA category will surge the fastest in 2017 and we are proud of Dogfish Head’s innovator position in this realm.” To find Flesh & Blood IPA, visit dogfish.com/brewery/fishfinder.

Back by Popular Demand

After a three-year hiatus, Dover brewery Dominion has brought back its Millennium Ale. This Barley Wine Style Ale uses the original recipe first brewed in Ashburn, Va., to commemorate its 1,000th batch of beer.

This full-bodied English/American style barley wine comes in at 10.5 percent ABV. Millennium is brewed with Pale and Crystal Malts, Perle, Hallertau, Mt. Hood and EKG hops, and pure Virginia honey. The limited 100-barrel release is a labor of love that takes 24 hours of non-stop brewing before spending 15 weeks in the fermenter. Dominion Millennium Ale paired with sharp cheeses or a variety of desserts promises to be an ally in the cold winter months.

Says Head Brewer Daniel Louder: “This beer’s complexity, nostalgia and demand makes it something special and a pleasure to brew. Beer drinkers that have had it will be pleased that it’s available again, and ones that haven’t tried it will not be disappointed.”

Dominion Millennium Ale was released last month and is available in six-packs and on draught at local liquor stores.

Fresh Pours

New Belgium Brewing is on a roll. Four new year-round beers are now available from the Fort Collins, Colo., brewery, which is tweaking some other brews, too.

Fresh out of the gate are Dayblazer Easygoing Ale, Citradelic Exotic Lime Ale, Tartastic Lemon Ginger Sour and Voodoo Ranger 8 Hop Ale. A new line of hoppy beers under the Voodoo Ranger trademark is also being introduced, while Blue Paddle Pilsener paves the way for New Belgium Bohemian Pilsener. To make room for all these new flavors, Snapshot Wheat, Slow Ride Session IPA and Shift Pale Lager will roll off into the sunset (at least for now). In a purely cosmetic tweak, Sunshine Wheat will be newly adorned with a Colorado state flag to signify its roots.

“This is our most ambitious portfolio reimagining since our beginnings,” says New Belgium Brewing spokesperson Bryan Simpson. “We’ve got a lot of excitement, momentum and energy and that makes for a bounty of great beers with interesting twists—2017 is shaping up to be an awesome year for drinking beer.”