I didn’t know much about Delaware before my arrival. Does anyone?
I arrived through a cold dark driving rain, the radio in my rental car blaring safety tips for the anticipated hurricane landfall the next day. Joaquin had just ripped through the Bahamas and was whirling through the Atlantic, aimed for the east coast. Speculation was rampant, supplies were sold out, and my ill-advised flight into Baltimore was nearly empty.
The road from Maryland to Delaware is all farmland and forestland and puzzling place names; as the light lost its battle with the stormclouds I sounded out words like “Susquehanna” against the steady metronome beat of the windshield wipers.
In a tidy suburban area I rolled through a maze of quiet residential subdivisions, searching for the street. I passed the same Wawa five times, dipping from Delaware to Pennsylvania and back again, following first my GPS and then my printed directions down wide neat roads, their tranquility slightly tainted by the anticipated storm: a woman unloading a case of water from her SUV, a man stacking sandbags on the base of a basketball hoop.
One street’s houses were a little lower, a little older, and televisions flickered from the front windows to douse the wet asphalt an unnatural blue. I swerved on the busy street around a strangely located speed table to park at an orange radio tower and jaywalked over to the highpoint, finally finding it embedded in the protruding curb I’d bumped past earlier. The street sang with passing traffic splashing through the puddles to send up a spray of rainbow mist, soaking my shoes and then catching in the wind to freeze against the sidewalk and the humble sign, adding a bit of glitter to modest Delaware.
About the beer:
I enjoy Dogfish Head’s 60-minute and 90-minute IPAs, so it would stand to reason I’d love the 120-minute even more. I’d heard it was a rare IPA that benefited from cellaring, so this was last year’s vintage, carefully preserved for this moment among the cold hurricane winds on a suburban sidewalk.
After eighteen months it had transformed from an IPA into a rich, boozy… sort of a barleywine? a sweet honey-tinged nectar that tingled and burned the roof of my mouth. For a second I actually wondered if the bottle had been mislabeled, this didn’t seem to have any hops in it at all. It tastes like sweet sultanas and malts and astringent booze, and the closest description I can conjure is a bowl of Raisin Bran, but with dark rum poured over it instead of milk. It wasn’t bad, just wasn’t at all what I’d expected, and at nearly 20% alcohol I could only savor a few sips before corking it to venture back into the storm.