Inside a beige aluminum industrial warehouse close to a large Walmart distribution center in the American Revolution-formed village of Smyrna, praiseworthy BLUE EARL BREWING was established during 2014 and opened for business May ’15, becoming Delaware’s seventh brewery. Entrepreneurial guiding light, Ron Price, a former home brewer, runs this huge 11,000 square foot operation (with plenty of room for expansion).
Combining Price’s love for (mostly) strong ales and the Blues, his pristine sienna and pale blue-walled tasting room features a pink guitar and other instruments strewn across the duct-exposed, high-ceiling interior. Three community benches and several wall-countered stools sit across from the 10-seat wood-laminated bar.
On my May ’16 one-hour stopover, I got to sample eight exquisite elixirs, though missing out on what may become Blue Earl’s flagship beer, tropical citric-pined medium body, Walking Blues IPA.
Starting with three fine Belgian-styled offerings, the lightest one, Honeysuckle Rose (Belgian Blonde Ale), brought lemon pepper-glazed honeysuckle sweetness to lemony orange zest, peated malt dewiness, dry Hallertau hops and green grape snips.
Intricate Heavenly Joy (Dubbel) layered candi-sugared yeast with toasted caramel malts, subtle citrus hop tones and dried-fruited cherry, plum and raisin illusions. ‘Complex’ Stardust (Tripel), a deceptive 9.5% ABV medium body, hitched its freshly-squeezed orange and lemon tang to white-peppered sugar spicing and terse fig-raisin nuances.
Elegantly detailed Trouble In Mind (Doppelbock) placed crystal malt sugaring and barley-toasted toffee sweetness above reluctant date and fig undertones in a rich, yet understated, manner.
Spicy rye malts inundated Gnarly Red-Eyed Rooster (Imperial Red Rye Ale), a fruity medium body with woody Chinook hops and tropical Cascade-Citra hops illuminated by tangy ruby red grapefruit zest as well as scrappy apple, peach, apricot and tangerine illusions.
Velvety Big Boss Man (Barleywine) allowed tropical fruited sweetness to inundate its chewy caramel-toffee sugaring and cereal-grained malting for a strong 10% ABV uplift.
On the dark side were two well-executed potions. Mightily mocha-smoked Blue On Black (Smoked Porter) retained bold black chocolate-syruped coffee richness above wood-burnt hop char. But best of all was Top Of The World (Imperial Stout with bourbon vanilla beans). A thick and chewy 9% ABV libation, its prominent bourbon vanilla sweetness gained syrupy brown chocolate licks, roasted caramel sugaring, hazelnut coffee riffs, light espresso dabs and vaporized dried fruiting.
Presently, Gnarly Red-Eyed Rooster is available in 22-ounce bottles while Walking Blues IPA and Honeysuckle Rose are marketed in 6-packs.