I jumped head first into the enticing, endless world of craft beers over a decade ago, and I have Dogfish Head brews to thank for it. I’ll never forget the moment when I tasted the bitter, robust flavor of their infamous 60 Minute IPA. It had me spellbound, completely smitten. Beer can taste like this? There are more beers like this?! Yep. I was a goner; hook, line and sinker. There was no turning back after that. And it turns out that my curiosity only grew the further I looked into this hop-forward world of fermented beverages…
For the past couple of years, we have been vacationing in Bethany Beach, DE. Which also happens to be tremendously close to the Dogfish Head Brewery and Brewpub. In 2013, Dogfish Head announced that they were developing a brewery-themed boutique hotel, to accommodate its traveling hop-heads. And since that announcement, we’ve been antsy to check the place out.
Dogfish Head purchased the old Vesuvio Motel, located in the quaint town of Lewes. It’s within walking distance of the beach, the hiking and biking trails of Cape Henlopen State Park, and a slew of charming Lewes’ restaurants. Lewes was the perfect location for The Inn because it’s halfway between Dogfish brewpub/distillery in Rehoboth Beach and their production brewery in Milton.
The motel’s nostalgic seaside facade was preserved, but the 16-room interior was completely transformed by the designers at Studio Tack from Brooklyn, NY.
Our first stop was the lobby to grab our room keys. The lobby rests inside a beautifully refurbished single family home, which lays catty corner from The Inn. We were completed blown away by the lobby’s design. It felt like a beachy, ski lodge. Beautifully simple and still ornate, dotted with little quirky treasures everywhere we looked.
The lobby vibe was comfortable and inviting. I didn’t want to leave this amazing space. But once we got our room assignment, I knew great things were in our future. Lucky number 21, let the good times roll.
Our room was absolutely fantastic. It had a clean-lined, midcentury feel to it. And it was a lot more spacious than I was expecting. The bright white room was complemented by a palette of earthy tones, and Dogfish Head’s signature green hue was highlighted in spots around the room.
The room was loaded with beer-centric design elements. There was a bar with stools next to the window, a wall-mounted bottle opener, screenprints of beer labels from their music collaborations, and even beer hand-soap. Each room is equipped with a mini-fridge, which was stocked with locally made snacks. We tried the Duke’s smoked meat, I seriously couldn’t stop eating it. Plus, there was barware readily available in our room for the beers that we were going to bring back from brewpub. But here’s a little tip- you gotta BYOB because you won’t find any beer for sale from The Inn.
Brewery owner, Sam Calagione, made the thoughtful decision NOT to sell beer at the hotel or serve food because he didn’t want to take business away from the town’s shop owners and restaurateurs. Mr. Rogers would definitely approve of this neighborly gesture…
With all these boozy amenities, we were half tempted to just stay in and enjoy our new digs for the night, but the outdoor community space was too awesome to pass up.
There’s a large gathering spot with a bonfire—the Cowboy Cauldron—surrounded by picnic benches and tables with metal trays in the middle to hold ice and beer. There’s also an open outdoor shower if you need to wash off after an outdoor activity, or if you’re into being an exhibitionist- here’s your stage. But not in front of the kids, okay?
We played several rounds of corn hole and ladder toss with our friendly Inn neighbors from Cape May while waiting for our chariot (errrr I mean taxi van) to take us to the Dogfish Head brewpub.
When we arrived to the brewpub, the line was about an hour and a half deep. Yikes. But we strolled right in and were seated immediately because when you’re staying at The Inn, you’re guaranteed seating at the pub. That’s one serious perk.
I ordered the blackened and woodgrilled shredded mahi mahi with homemade pico de gallo, queso fresco, margarita cream, and micro cilantro. The fish was cooked perfectly and the freshness of the pico and herbs really came through. It was the perfect summer dish to have alongside a couple of brews.
Tim ordered the Alpine Idyll Pizza with 60 Minute IPA braised mushrooms, fresh chevre, prosciutto, truffle oil, arugula, and balsamic drizzle . He added the house Heirloom Italian sausage for good measure. Because he’s certain that sausage makes everything better. And I think he’s on to something here.
We ended up sampling almost every beer on tap. Each one was so different from the last, but they did have one thing in common; they weren’t shy on flavor. My favorite was the American Beauty (Imperial Pale Ale) and Tim’s was the Chateau Jiahu (Ancient Ale).
With our thirsts quenched and our bellies full, we cabbed it back to Lewes. While exploring the quiet water town, we ran into our Cape May Inn neighbors again and decided to join forces and grab some drinks at a local watering hole. After a some good brews, laughs, and jokes, we all walked back to The Inn and continued the festivities outside.
We had an incredible stay at the Dogfish Head Inn. We were so blown away by all the attention to detail, it completely exceeded our expectations. We could tell that every aspect of The Inn was done mindfully, with extreme thoughtfulness and care. Ironically, all of this precision translated into a fun, laid back, community vibe, which is so rare to find these days. We can’t wait to come back for another visit. Hopefully, our new Cape May friends can make it back there, too.
Cheers N’at– Devon and Tim