off-centered off-season

When you think of a weekend at the beach, your mind probably wanders to the warmth and sunshine of the time coming up between Memorial Day and Labor Day. And we do too, most of the time. But as much as we love spending hours catching up on every book we didn't get to read over the winter, listening to the waves crashing on the sand, the 'off-season' months are some of our favorite around Coastal Delaware! 
The cooler months of the year is a time to do a few of the things we never seem to find the time to do during the summer months because, let's face it, we don't want to pull ourselves off the beach! Over the years of exploring the beach during the off season we continue to find more and more local business that are staying open year-round (if they weren’t already). So many beer dinners and special beer events happen at the beach during these quieter months, taking advantage of the smaller year-round population and visitors.  

After making it through the final workday of the week, on a chilly Friday night in January, Eric and I made our way down Route 1, and like any time we make this trek, the closer we got to the smell of salt in the air, the more excited – and relaxed – we both find ourselves. This trip down it also may have had a little something to do with spending the weekend at the Dogfish Inn in downtown LewesPulling into the Inn’s parking lot we quickly realized we weren’t the only ones who had the idea of a winter weekend visit to the beach. Which was pretty awesome to see (though not really surprising...this is one cool Inn!)  
We first visited the Inn for the ribbon cutting back in June and had a chance to check out the grounds and rooms of the Inn, but getting to stay for the weekend was going to be a whole new adventure. Upon checking into Room 7, relaxation really kicked in. After a long work week we fought off the urge to crash into the beyond comfortable looking bed (especially after our friend Heather told us it was of the most comfy bed she’s ever slept in), we quickly reminded ourselves we didn’t come to rest, we can to explore!

First on our agenda: dinner at the Dogfish Head Brewing & Eats (the Brewpub!) Since this was our first trip to the beach since the New Year, before we did anything, we had to renew our Dogfish Head Mug Club membership. Then it was food and drink time. Round one, and the Mug Club renewal beer, was Sixty-One for Eric, and a flight for me. With three Brewpub Exclusives immediately catching my eye, the flight was the way to go for me. Czechzum, Brewdolf and Black Lodge, Immort and Chicory Stout filled up the dance card of my flight. 

Needing a snack before dinner, we went with one of our menu go-tos, the Olives Pickles and Cheese with 60 Minute IPA marinated olives and Brooklyn Brine Hop Pickles

Eric's next round was Palo Santo, and I, like a kid, had to order my now-standard once-a-trip Beach Beer, which I got hooked on it during last year's Analog-A-Go-Go. 

When we read one the dessert special for the night, we knew it would be the best way to round out the night - and to remind ourselves to save room for dessert! How intriguing does Ancho Chili Churro Bites served with three sauces - Mexican Cinnamon Chocolate, Nutmeg Crème Anglaise and Ancho Chili Honey - sound? To make it even better, Theobroma was on tap, which paired perfectly with the amazing flavors of the dessert. Talk about a perfect ending to night #1 of our Coastal Delaware #offcentered #offseason adventure! 

As much as we're beer people, we're coffee people too, and the Chicory Stout Coffee the Inn serves is out of this world. There was a chill in the air that rainy Saturday morning, making it the perfect type of morning to enjoy a cup of coffee by the fire. And that’s just what we did. That's another thing we love so much about the beach. Relaxing is okay. Taking it a bit slower in the morning is okay. The day can get started when you're good and ready for it to start. 

After refueling with coffee at the Inn, it was breakfast time...with with more coffee, of course. We stopped into a favorite spot in Lewes, the Lewes Bake Shoppe and Notting Hill Coffee Roastery. The Bake Shoppe offers so many yummy breakfast items and pastries, and one of the largest selections of coffee beans we've ever seen. On top of this being a great place to start your morning, the folks there are super sweet and just the right dose of perkiness for early morning trips!  

Without summer traffic to battle, getting in the car for a drive is a great Saturday afternoon plan during the off season. Our destination this Saturday was Burley Okay Brewing, located about an hour south of Lewes, in Berlin, Maryland, America's Coolest Small Town, according to Budget Travel. Burley Oak is, as you might expect from the names of several of their beers, a pretty chill place to visit. It's BYOF(ood) and a totally relaxed atmosphere. 

We originally visited Burley Oak not long after they opened. We've been looking to get back down to the brewery for another visit. This time around we went with Awesome Sauce, Secret Sauce, Rude Boy, Vlad, Bunker-C, and I had to try their Root Beer! The weekend prior to our visit was Burley Oak’s Bee’s Knees release party and we were pretty excited to see a few bottles still available when we visited, so obviously a bottle had to make its way home with us.
Needing some post brewery visit grub, we took a drive into downtown Berlin and found Rayne’s Reef Soda Fountain and Grill – where we ran into one of our bartenders from Burley Oak - and split one of the most delightful grilled cheese we’ve tasted.  

While popping in the shops around town we also purchased a fun beer sign from TaDa and a Birthday Cake cake pop and salted caramel cupcake from Cupcakes in Bloom, who you may have seen on the Food Network’s Cupcake Wars. Despite the rainy day, we had a blast checking out such a cool town!
Having any sort of a schedule or super laid out plans goes against our mantra when we're at the beach, but this Saturday was a bit of an exception to the rule. Our goal of the afternoon was to get back to the Inn by 4pm so we could take part in the Fireside Chat with Sam. But before that, we had to make one final stop on the way back through town. We had to visit with the fantastic folks at R&L Liquors, located right in downtown Lewes, just a few blocks from the Inn. During this trip (as it was just a few days after the Elysian announcement) we were anxious to purchase Elysian Space Dust before the folks of InBev tinkered with it. We grabbed a six-pack of that, plus a little Dogfish Piercing Pils, Siren Craft Brew Lemon Cello IPA and Prairie Artisanal Ales Spaghetti West. We always come out of R&L with a nice haul of beers to take home with us, and this Saturday was no different. 

Since it wasn’t the prettiest of 4 p.m.’s, Sam’s Fireside Chat was still fireside, just slight change of location, to the lobby’s fireplace. Sam raided his fridge to share with the Inn's guests, and guests were encouraged to bring their own beer to sip on. Many fellow Inn guests opted for brews local to their home, while others brought their favorite Dogfish brews. We opened up Evil Twin Hop Flood and Lagunitas Sucks to sip on during the chat. 

Sam was off to the annual co-workers shindig in Dewey that night (which also meant the brewpub was closed  - eek!) but this gave us the perfect opportunity to finally stop in and meet the folks at Mr. P’s Pizza. It was great to chat with Rick and Meg about their 19 beers on tap, including a nitro and cask beer. While we were there we checked out Saucony Creek Schnickelfritz Chocolate Stout on cask, Troegs Blizzard of Hops and Sierra Nevada Flipside Red IPA while we snacked on homemade garlic bread. Make sure you get one of Mr. P's craft beer and pizza frequent cards when you stop in! 

After some downtime wandering through the shops in Rehoboth, dinner at 
Henlopen City Oyster House was on the docket for the evening. Eric and I were on the same lobster wavelength that night – I went with the Lobster Roll and Eric tried the Lobster Mac and Cheese. And both were crazy good. Dinner was paired with Mikkeller Spontanredcurrent and Lagunitas Brown Shugga. As we took our last sips of our beers, we knew it was time to call it a day. We could hear our bed back at the Inn calling our name...

We woke to sunshine and warmer weather on Sunday morning and decided, after our Chicory Stout coffee, it was time to borrow two bikes from the Inn and cruise down the Junction & Breakwater Trail and then down to Lewes Beach. It was a little breezy, but we couldn't pass up a chance to take a quick ride in January. And when the bikes are as cool as the Inn's bikes, you really can't pass up a ride!

The bike ride kicked off a much more low key Sunday at the beach, which is pretty much how we love our Sundays to be when we're down there. After chatting with Innkeeper Andrew during checkout, our afternoon included window shopping through Lewes and Rehoboth, then grabbed lunch at Fin's Ale House, where we spied the brewing equipment of Big Oyster Brewing

On the drive back North, one that we always put off as long as possible, I scrolled through pictures from the weekend. It was so easy to see why we love our trips down to Coastal Delaware. Having such a neat addition to the Dogfish Head family. And it's just darn awesome. Besides being super cool accommodations, every person we came in contact with throughout our stay made the stay even better than it already way. The attention to detail and amenities of the room were so unique and quirky - in the best way possible! When the designing mind behind the Ace Hotel working on the awesomeness of the Dogfish Inn, we knew it would be super impressive, and boy did they prove that notion right!