For most of its existence, Revelation Brewing Company has been a revelation to Delaware beer drinkers who have discovered the quaint little brewery on Central Street just outside of Rehoboth Beach.
But the company is set to expand in a major way with the anticipated summer opening of its new brewery and kitchen at the former 16 Mile brewery in Georgetown.
“We cannot wait. For so many reasons,” said Revelation founder Patrick Staggs.
Revelation purchased the 16 Mile property in November 2018, but it was quickly apparent that work had to be done to bring the brewery to where Staggs wanted it to be.
“We’re behind on where we wanted to be for sure. We could have gone in and just put some polish on stuff and opened up the doors, but we knew we didn’t want to do that,” Staggs said.
He said the existing space didn’t fit Revelation’s brewing operation, and the customer experience didn’t work.
So Revelation spent the last year-plus working on building the brewery it wanted to build. The tasting room stayed, but the brewhouse was demolished and will be rebuilt. A full kitchen and an outdoor patio and playground is also planned. With all the changes, Staggs said, came permit approvals at the local and state level, a process that has taken time. That time has helped build anticipation for the new brewery.
“The support is crazy. I’d say 98 percent of people that come in here ask about Georgetown every day. Facebook blows up with questions, ‘What’s the timing?’ It’s all welcoming, but it’s still a process,” Staggs said. Revelation is now set to seek a building permit with the town of Georgetown to begin construction.
Still, he said the end result should be a world-class brewery.
“Anyone that’s a brewing nerd should walk in and say, ‘This is nice.’” Staggs said.
For the new kitchen, Revelation has partnered with locally renowned chef Hari Cameron for a new venture that will combine recipes from Cameron’s Grandpa Mac pasta restaurant with alternate takes on traditional bar food like burgers and wings. To pair with Revelation’s selection of gluten-free beers, Staggs said the kitchen will also have a selection of gluten-free bar food. Cameron and Revelation have a history together, Staggs said, as Staggs and Cameron have been friends for years, and the brewery has done collaborative beers with Grandpa Mac.
The Georgetown brewery will also have an outdoor playground for kids that Staggs said is part of an immersive family experience.
“It’s going to be affordable, family-friendly. The type of place where - I got three kids - I would love taking my family, too. Enjoying some beers and food at an affordable price,” Staggs said.
Revelation is planning three beer gardens this summer, including a return to Hudson Fields after a successful debut last summer. Other beer gardens will be in Whitehall in Middletown and a third at Homestead Campgrounds in Georgetown.
Staggs said having two breweries, one in Rehoboth and one in Georgetown, will allow Revelation to have both a small and large brewing system in-house. With a smaller system, he said, such as in Rehoboth, the advantage is more flexibility in styles without brewing too much of one specific beer. A larger system allows for larger batches, but not in as many varieties, Staggs said. With the new brewery, Revelation can have the best of both worlds, he said. Revelation can now brew large batches of its popular beers, such as Conan The Juiceman, Mother In Law IPA and gluten-free beers that it will supply to brewery beer gardens around the state, while using the Rehoboth location to experiment with other styles.
Having a large brewery will allow Revelation to further distribute its product. Staggs said Revelation bought a canning line from Allagash Brewery in Maine that will enable Revelation to package 12 and 16 ounce cans.
“Once that’s open, we’ll be able to open up our distribution for both draft and cans in Delaware and a few other states we have planned after that,” he said.
Distributing Revelation throughout Delaware and beyond is not a scary proposition for Staggs, who came from the distribution world, having started with Dr. Pepper and Cadbury Schwepps before moving to Delaware to work as director of operations for Dogfish Head. Homebrewing was a side hobby until he decided to go into business for himself. He said he never wanted Revelation to become a distribution company because the level of competition was too much for the small brewery to take on. Staggs said he views distribution as a marketing expense to get more exposure and bring more people to the Rehoboth and Georgetown breweries.
People coming in is how Staggs sees Revelation competing in the crowded and volatile world of craft beer, where the struggle to stay independent is real. He said craft beer drinkers seek an experience, and growth comes from people coming to visit, enjoying themselves and the product and spreading the world. Staggs said he does not mind that so many craft breweries have opened in the Cape Region the last five years, and sees it as a positive for everyone.
“Why can’t we be like the Asheville of the East Coast, where it’s a brewery destination? People are here because they want to see Revelation. Then they want to go down the road and see Big Oyster. They want to make their roundabout and see breweries along the way. But they’re going to go to ones they can trust. There’s so much room for more breweries, but they have to stay unique in what they offer,” Staggs said.
Once the Georgetown brewery opens, Revelation has two more projects on tap. First, Staggs said the plan is to build an addition at the Georgetown brewery for events, such as weddings. The second is to move to a new Rehoboth brewery across from Tomato Sunshine in the same area as the current brewery. Staggs said while the existing brewery has served Revelation well, it is inefficient. He said the new Rehoboth brewery would be two stories high and much larger. Staggs said the intention is to build the new brewery later this year.
With so much happening, 2020 could be overwhelming to Revelation’s founder, but Staggs is confident things will only get bigger and better from here.
“I’ve always had a vision of where we want to go. But it’s not all me. It’s incredible what this small company has done in a short amount of time. That’s because we have an awesome team. With the right team, you can take on a lot of things,” Staggs said.