Boasting the simple slogan ‘tasty suds and laidback grub,’ Newark, Delaware-based nanaobrewery ARGILLA BREWING CO. may’ve come into fruition during February 2012, but brewer Steve Powell’s father manned Pietro’s Pizza since 1978. Starting with a home kit brewing system ’round 2008, Powell became increasingly interested in designing craft beers, inspired partially by Anchorage, Alaska’s Moose Tooth Pub & Pizzeria and Washington State’s eclectic breweries. A former Iron Hill brewer, Powell’s general fare is soft-toned, daintily expressive and well-rounded, pairing well with the tremendous assortment of pizza pies offered.
Inside the red-bricked Meadowood Mall, Argilla celebrated its fourth anniversary recently. A small stage with pink couch and beer list line the right side wall while left side seating and wooden booths surround the central food and bar area. Windowed brew tanks at the left rear served seven approachable ales on my April ’16 lunchtime sojourn. My wife ordered the delectable Arugula Pie to go with my house-brewed samples. Waylon & Willie, Johnny Cash and several other country artists play in the background while several locals start to arrive.
It’s worth noting that Argilla also has a refrigerator full of respectable bottled-canned Delaware beers from Dogfish Head, Fordham & Dominion, 16 Mile, Mispillion River, Third Wave and Blue Earl (all of which I found later on this fun-soaked statewide journey).
For starters, easy drinking Blonde On Belgian brought brisk lemon zest to mandarin orange tartness, coriander-spiced banana sweetness and candi-sugared crystal malts. Next, sweet-honeyed Session Pale Ale mixed lemony grapefruit souring with mildly bitter orange rind tang. Just as mild, raw-honeyed Golden Goldings gained a subtle lemon spritz over bready malts, herbal hops and vegetal hints.
Bettering those delicate choices was soft-toned Meeting House Pale Ale, the nitro version of Session Pale Ale. Its lemon-pitted grapefruit and orange tartness gained prominence above doughy English yeast fermentation.
Dried oats anchored mildly embittered Toatally Falconer Oat IPA, a polite lemon-limed spritzer with astringent hops guiding piney grapefruit pith briskness to the surface. ‘Fruit juiced’ Flute Luplin, a wildflower-honeyed Imperial IPA, delivered a delightful citric punch above creamy pale malts as its lemony grapefruit and orange tang quietly surged.
Before hitting the road, lovely oats-flaked dry body, Sin City Stout, contrasted light coffee and cocoa bittering with medium-roast brown chocolate sweetness and wispy dried fruiting.
By June ’16, Argilla will expand brewing operations from 1.5 barrels to a 3-barrel system.