Until now, or, technically, until halfway through this past summer, Dewey Beer Co. was the only brewery in Dewey Beach. Then a restaurant that’s been just off of Dewey’s Coastal Highway for 26 years finally got the chance to brew its own beer.
The new brewpub of Gary’s Dewey Beach Grill, called 38°-75° Brewing, after the latitude and longitude coordinates of Dewey Beach, has been sort of a well-kept secret since its soft open in July.
From craft beer-forward to craft beer brewing
“Usually we close in the winters, so instead of having a closing weekend, we did the brewpub opening,” said Adam Newman, a co-owner of Gary’s along with Gary Cannon, Chris Avsec and Holly Sloniewski. “Holly stockpiled five of our beers from the last two months, so we had enough beer to showcase that we’re going to be open year-round and that we’re a brewpub now.”
Gary’s has been known for its selectiong of craft beer on tap since the late 90s, back when selections were limited mostly to Sierra Nevada, Sam Adams and Dogfish, which was the first craft brewery in Delaware.
“The cool thing is that after 15 years of being a craft beer-forward bar, we have great relationships with all these [local brewers] already,” Newman said, adding that their selection of craft beers on tap started at 14 and is now up to 20. “They’re super supportive with anything you need, any questions.”
According to Cannon, Gary’s original owner and namesake, the idea of brewing their own beer had been on the owners’ minds for about 10 years. The opportunity finally arrived when their next-door neighbor, Alley Oop Skim Shop, permanently closed its doors and allowed Gary’s to infiltrate the space with their brewing equipment.
“We’ve been brewing in the off-season for fun, but we just didn’t have the space to do it,” Cannon said. “Then we got this space, it’s tiny but it’s big enough for us to do something small.”
Not your average pale ale
Sloniewski cooks and brews at 38°-75° and is constantly experimenting with different flavors in their 20 oz. brewing tank. She’s been cooking in restaurants since she was 14, she said, and isn’t interested in making “your average IPA.”
“I want to bring a different element to our smaller batches of beer that we’re brewing and have them pair well with our food,” Sloniewski said. “But at the same time, brew complement styles from a foodie-type vision.”
Gary’s has been a health-conscious mainstay of Dewey Beach since 1991 and is known for serving up good-for-you food like Gary’s Famous Turkey Cheesesteak, turkey burger sliders and pita pizza (“Our secret motto is “eat healthy, drink hardy,” Cannon explained).
A few of their most successful experiments have included a cranberry pale ale made with 100% pure cranberry juice, a ginger saison made with fresh ginger and a batch of sweet potato ESB brewed with eight pounds of sweet potatoes and two pounds of molasses.
“Just little nuances like that to try to be different and tie in our love for food and our knowledge of what pairs well and be creative with our little 20 oz. system,” Sloniewski said.
Keeping it local
Of course when the name of the brewpub reflects the location coordinates of the town it’s in, local pride will abound.
“We just love being on the water, we love sailing, riding waves,” Sloniewski said. “There was a Sunday this past fall where there was waves and we put a sign on the door, “see you guys at noon, we’re going to go ride some waves.”
That’s the attitude that’s made Gary’s a local favorite for 26 years–enjoy the waves, eat healthy and drink local.
They offer domestic and imported brews behind the bar, but their focus has always been on carrying beers from local breweries: “We’re more likely to carry a local beer, like Dewey Beer Company or 16 Mile or Mispillion,” Cannon said. “That’s the essence of it, that’s what this restaurant is.”
He added that when he travels and goes out for a drink, he wants to try what’s local to the region he’s in.
“You go someplace in North Carolina and say “hey, what do you have that’s local?” and they’re like, “We got something from Georgia,”–there’s not a brewery within 100 miles of here?”
And with Iron Hill Brewery soon opening a new location in Rehoboth, Newman added, “it’ll be seven breweries within six miles.”
With their unique and ever-changing craft beers on tap, some brewed right on-site, it’ll be difficult for any craft connoisseur to pass up a stop at 38°-75° Brewing.
“’You didn’t go to 38°-75°?'” Cannon said. “Then you didn’t do any brews.”