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History Matters: Brewing beer in Delaware

We explore the roots of Delaware's vibrant brewing culture in this month’s edition of History Matters, produced in conjunction with the Delaware Historical Society.


Beer has always been important in this state’s history. State beer expert John Medkeff says the earliest settlers here prioritized it over building their first church.


"In fact. the Swedes were brewing very early on. That was one of the first things they did when they settled. To plant seed for baking and brewing," said Medkeff.


Medkeff chronicles beer’s history in the First State - from those early brewers in the 17th century to the introduction of lager -and then the quiet years of prohibition in his new book - Brewing in Delaware.



Although first-rate, locally brewed beer is now taken as a given in Delaware, that wasn’t always the case, says state beer expert John Medkeff.


"The earliest attempt for a production brewery in Wilmington, the Rockford Brewery in Wilmington, went out of business in a few years."


Medkeff adds that although demand for all that high quality, local beer is fairly high, soon the market could for Delaware brew be saturated.


"Consumption is fairly high, but the breweries don't necessarily reach the population, and that's because there's so much competition from nearby states," he said.