MIDDLETOWN, Delaware – After seven years of waiting, the day arrived to open the doors — despite a pandemic — and it snowed. But that did not deter the folks at First State Brewing Company from moving forward with their brewery, taproom, and kitchen just days before Christmas last year, navigating the uncertainties that come along with launching a new business, unable to foresee the challenges created by supply chain, labor, and capacity limitations soon to follow.
If you are a craft beer enthusiast who sampled one of the 100,000 beers canned this year, you probably would not have known that wasn’t the plan. Perhaps you made the trek to the Middletown brewery to sample one of the 78 unique beer varieties produced this year, to dine from their popular menu, to enjoy live music, or relax with friends on the patio.
“Because of the capacity limitations imposed due to the pandemic, we pivoted on our initial strategy and ramped up distribution, which meant purchasing costly canning and packaging equipment,” explains Founder and CEO, Paul Hester. First State Brewing did not receive any relief funding and by April, cans and kegs of their craft beers began appearing throughout Delaware.
With First State Brewing making news in craft beer circles, visitors started making their way to the taproom to enjoy the rotating line up of beers on tap, usually more than 16 at a time. Demand from outside of Delaware drove First State Brewing to start distributing throughout Maryland and eastern Pennsylvania not long after, ultimately putting their beers within reach of craft beer lovers at over 435 locations, easily located through their website’s “Beer Map”. In addition to beer on draft, the taproom offers cider, beer cocktails, classic cocktails, local wine, take-away 4-packs & crowlers, gift cards, and merchandise.
All of the core team that opened First State Brewing remain and due to growth have recruited enough employees to triple in size over the past year.
Their scratch kitchen received rave reviews for its creative menu that features items like poutine, brisket egg rolls and scrapple, and is quickly becoming a dining destination for all ages. They incorporate fresh locally-sourced ingredients throughout their menu, including their beer into several dishes, and provide beer pairing suggestions for all dishes. The exception is their Liege-style waffles, which they import from Belgium for their Chicken & Waffle Sliders, a guest favorite and a best seller since opening. It’s safe to say the food menu is as creative as their beers and can designs.
First State Brewing takes beer knowledge and training seriously, as demonstrated by Cicerone® credentials held by their staff. They are home to Delaware’s only Advanced Cicerone® (Level 3), a designation held by just 151 globally and are currently the only company in the Delaware with more than one Certified Cicerone® (Level 2). The majority of their taproom team are Certified Beer Servers (Level 1).
A Reason to Party and Everyone’s Invited
First State Brewing will celebrate their exciting first year starting at 7 PM this Saturday, December 18th, when they’ll clear out the dining area, open up the dance floor, and bring in a favorite local band, Universal Funk Order. In addition to releasing several new beers, they’re also offering prize giveaways throughout the night! Attendees can win merchandise, tickets to First State’s nextChef & Brewer Curated Food & Beer Experience, and tickets to the upcoming Eagles vs Giants division game.
What’s next for First State Brewing?
After a successful inaugural year, 2022 promises to bring more growth for First State Brewing, who recently acquired the regulatory approval necessary to produce hard ciders. The taproom is expanding their number of taps and will soon offer as many as 24 varieties of beer and cider. The brewery is planning to further their distribution into new markets, expand their cider offerings and develop a barrel ageing program.
Those looking for a unique experience in 2022 will enjoy their “Chef & Brewer Curated Food & Beer Experience”, in a limited-seating setting where guests enjoy an interactive and flavorful experience prepared by Executive Chef, Nicholas Carr, and led by Quality Manager, Joseph Spearot (Advanced Cicerone®).
About First State Brewing
First State Brewing Company is dedicated to crafting a variety of superior quality beers and ciders. By combining tradition with creativity, First State Brewing Company elevates customer experiences with unique craft beer and ciders, education about craft beer and brewing, a scratch kitchen that has become a dining destination of its own, and a variety of beer and food related events. First State Brewing is located about 30 minutes from Dover and Chestertown and an hour from Philadelphia, Easton and the Bay Bridge.
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