A short drive East from Newark, headed to port town of Wilmington, February ‘06. Along the waterfront in large freestanding red brick building next to Big Kahuna and Joe’s Crab Shack is, in my opinion, the best IRON HILL BREWERY. Opened in 2002, its great Americana menu included succulent gumbo, cheese-thick French onion soup, and plentiful Cobb Salad. Brew tanks were staged left and multi-tiered and upstairs dining was available. Outdoor canvassed deck led to Industrial riverbank.
Cedar bar served specialty-seasonal beers previously unfound at other Iron Hill brewpubs. Fizzy bitter-hopped Munich Dunkel offered cinnamon-clove snip to raisin-fig-date conflux. Dryly lactose Nitrogen Poured Pig Iron Porter merged black chocolate with espresso while delicately creamy Russian Imperial Stout juxtaposed soft cherry-berry conflux against burnt-toasted black coffee. Superfine Iron Hill Rauchbier, $16 per bottle, went well with dessert (see review in Beer Index).
Acquainted myself with Iron Hill-Wilmington’s Brian Finn, one of the more affable and unconceited brewmasters, during November ’07 Wilmington stopover. Quaffed four diverse libations. Dried fruit, sugared fig, and dark cherry oblige earthen vegetal midst of lightly watered Altbier and pumpkin puree astringency exhausts herbal-hopped allpsice-nutmeg-cardomom spicing and nutty caramel flicker backing moderate-bodied Pumpkin Ale. Better was well-rounded Hopkowski Double American Ale, coating bittersweet bruised orange, cherry puree, and stewed prune with luring chocolate-caramel malting to appease imminent candied medicinal warmth.
Highest recommended goes to Bourbon Porter, the nitro-injected Pig Iron Porter offshoot aged in Four Roses whiskey barrels. Its pronounced bourbon-dried sweet whiskey entry garnishes chewy chocolate-vanilla-caramel malting plus cherry puree, sugar plum, syrupy liqueur, creamy éclair, hazelnut, and marshmallow illusions for perfect wintry nightcap.
During August ’08 journey to University of Delaware, ate delicious salmon spring rolls and Mediterranean wrap alongside honeyed corn-malted lemon-bruised juniper-grapefruit-embittered white peppercorn-finishing Saison Belgian Farmhouse Ale. After lunch, quaffed washed-out banana-orange-licked clove-spiced lemon-wedged dry-hopped Hefeweizen (which sacrificed honeyed creaming for mere carbolic fizz).
Finally got to revisit fantastic riverfront brewhouse again after Outer Banks voyage, July ’18, taking seats outback at one of the aluminum-roofed metal-furnished tables . Most of this evening’s previously untried fare leaned towards the light summery side.
Delicate Witberry Witbier scurried tart raspberry passed spritzy orange-peeled lemon misting and wispy wheat sweetness. Mellow Watermelon Wit needed deeper coriander-spiced watermelon tartness and tangier mandarin orange subtlety to overcome herbal cellar funk.
Zesty white-peppered lemon-juiced Mahalo, Apollo!, a hybrid Belgian wheat ale, utilized subtle lemongrass and passionfruit adjuncts to retain its sparkly understated wanderlust.
Also on the pallidly fruitier side, approachable Mango IPA thrust forth with sweetly tanged mango essence before its bitter orange rind-infused hop pining ascended.
Soapy farmhouse-desiccated Saison retained a cidery lemon souring and black-peppered musk that undermined its spicy orange tartness and sourdough malting.
Perfectly centrist India Pale Ale, Crusher, brought sharply bittersweet tropical fruiting to the fore, loading pineapple-grapefruit-tangerine tanginess atop lightly pined grassy hop astringency and mild biscuit base.
Better still, tropical New England-styled Chewy IPA brought sunshiny orange-peeled yellow grapefruit tanginess to crisply clean mineral graining and resinous pine hops.
Piney orange rind moderately embittered Hopicana IPA, an otherwise sweet Orangina-like soda pop with tangible tangerine tang.
Lemon-limed Citra IPA rallied with brisk orange, peach, mango and pineapple tanginess over lightly sugared pale malts.
As a dusky nightcap, sharp citric hops endowed Honey Cash Hops, a West Coast-styled India Pale Ale with sun-glazed yellow grapefruit, orange rind and pineapple tang.
During sweltering July 4th, 2019 visit, tried five more sound suds.
Subtle spicy yellow fruiting consumed soft-toned Belgian pale ale, Skinny Blonde, leaving banana, lemon and mango illusions upon its funky Belgian yeast herbage.
Lemon-candied raspberry rasp greeted light-bodied Witberry, blessing its stylish orange-peeled coriander sweetness with soap-stoned herbal wisps and delicate floral nuances.
Lactic kettle-soured Watermelon You Lookin’ At relegated its salted watermelon candied tartness with lemony melon rind snips and yogurt-like milking.
Herbal lemon tartness contrasted creamy pale malt sugaring for Ore House IPA, plying grapefruit-peeled pine needling to the brisk finish.
Citric-spiced piney bittering led Smash Series 10 IPA, a dry Eldorado-hopped medium body with frisky grapefruit, peach, orange and mango juicing coating its sugary pale malt spine.