The owners of Gary's Dewey Beach Grill have started a brewery called 38°-75° Brewing. Jason Minto/The News Journal/USA TODAY
When the group behind Gary's Dewey Beach Grill decided to open their new brewpub -- only the second in Dewey Beach -- it was partially spurred by another business in the tiny resort beach town.
Not the first brewpub. Dewey Beer Co.'s opened in 2015, helping clear the way for breweries in town after a prolonged pitch that involved plenty of planning commission and town council meetings.
The spark came when Gary's neighbors, Alley Oop Skim Shop, decided to get out of the retail world in 2015 to focus on skim classes and camps, making the space next door to Gary's suddenly available.
The homebrewers/restaurateurs decided then to spin off a brewery of their own, and it will have its official opening Saturday from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m.
The name of the new brewery will be unveiled at the event, but the owners gave The News Journal a sneak peek: It will be called 38°-75° Brewing Company, Dewey Beach's latitudinal and longitudinal coordinates.
"We wanted to incorporate Dewey Beach somehow and couldn't name it Dewey Beer Co.," says Holly Ski, a co-owner along with Gary Cannon, Chris Avsec and Adam Newman. "We're big ocean people. We love the beach, sailing and being on boats so we looked up Dewey's latitude and longitude and 38°-75° (pronounced 38-75) rolled off the tongue pretty well."
Both the brewpub and Gary's will offer food from the venerable health-conscious kitchen at Gary's.
Among the first brews being offered this weekend: Cranberry Sauce’d Pale Ale (6 percent ABV), Down Town Bourbon Brown (4.7 percent ABV), Rye Not? Roasted Rye IPA (6.2 percent ABV), Sweet Potato ESB (4.6 percent ABV) and Holy Mole Mexican Chocolate Stout, made with fermented with cacao nibs, vanilla beans, cinnamon sticks and ancho chiles (6.5 percent ABV).
The big question for Gary's is not why, but why did it take so long?
Ever since opening in 1991 as a healthy alternative to Dewey Beach's greasy pizza-and-wing offerings, Gary's has also been a craft beer home base for those looking for more than Bud Light or Miller Lite.
Over the years, Gary's has gone from beers such as Samuel Adams and Sierra Nevada to Sam Calagione's Dogfish Head and more. Gary's was one of the first local spots to carry Dogfish's beers and the eatery has grown to 20 craft taps with a total of 100 different beers in cans and bottles available throughout the year.
"Back in the '90s in Dewey Beach, if you had two beers on your menu that was a lot. So for us to have 10 or 15, it was unheard of," says Cannon, an original owner, who along with Ski has been homebrewing for years. "I decided to start selling the beers that I like."
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While Dewey Beach's big bars were slow to adopt craft brews, content with the certainty of colossal sales for familiar domestic brands, Gary's was happy to fill the void.
"Not that we'd want to use the world sellout, but we always wanted to be able to do what we wanted to do when it comes to beer," Newman says of the independent streak at Gary's. "We're passionate about beer. We didn't mind spending a little bit more money for these higher quality beers and stuck to it."
Years later as craft breweries boom across the state, many of those craft beer drinkers are still loyal to a bar/restaurant that was there from the beginning.
And now that spot will be producing an array of their own beers -- a natural progression considering Gary's 26-year run.
"We probably would have done this two or three years earlier had [the Alley Oop space] become available," says Cannon. His small batch beers made in a 20-gallon system will be available only at Gary's and 38°-75° Brewing.
The new brewery adds to the beach area's strong craft representation. If you're a fan of Delaware-made craft booze, you can make a day of it, hopping from spot to spot.
38°-75° Brewing now joins Dewey Beer Co., Dogfish Head, Revelation Craft Brewing, Big Oyster Brewery, Crooked Hammock Brewery, Brimming Horn Meadery, Beach Time Distilling, Nassau Valley Vineyards and Salted Vines Vineyard at Delaware's beaches.
The brewpub and Gary's will be open year-round now.
"We're going to be here brewing the beer, so why not sell it?" Newman says. They will keep hours Thursday through Monday with an exact schedule still being worked out.
While beach-goers eye Delaware's sand for sun and warm temperatures, putting up with the traffic along the way, that's not necessarily true for craft fans looking to spend a day going from brewery to brewery.
In fact, fall and winter months with less congestion on the roads and a nip in the air might be the perfect conditions for a brewery crawl.
"These are more than seasonal places. When you have a small area with a lot of breweries — like Asheville, North Carolina — people go there because you can hit a lot of breweries at once," Ski says. "I see a potential for that here."
IF YOU GO
What: 38°-75° Brewing opening at Gary's Dewey Beach Grill
When: Saturday, 3 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Where: 2000 Del. 1, Dewey Beach
38°-75° BREWING'S FIRST OFFERINGS
Cranberry Sauce’d Pale Ale is a pale ale, dry-hopped with Cascade hops and and cranberry juice. (6% ABV)
Down Town Bourbon Brown has hints of chocolate and toffee. (4.7% ABV)
Rye Not? Roasted Rye IPA is a spicy rye malt. (6.2% ABV)
Sweet Potato ESB is made with four pounds of fresh pureed sweet potato and one pound of pure molasses, complimenting this malt-forward Extra Strong Bitter. (4.6% ABV)
Holy Mole Mexican Chocolate Stout is made with fermented with cacao nibs, vanilla beans, cinnamon sticks and ancho chiles. (6.5% ABV)
Coming soon: IPA Poser Pale Ale, Dry-Hopped Stout, Caramel Apple Nut Brown Ale and Butt Chin New England Style IPA.