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Thompson Island named ‘Delaware Brewery of the Year’

Katie Tabeling

Thompson Island Brewing Company was named Delaware Brewery of the Year in a international competition. | PHOTO COURTESY OF SODEL CONCEPTS

REHOBOTH BEACH  — Upstart brewpub Thompson Island Brewing Company won four awards at the 2021 New York International Beer Competition, including being crowned Delaware Brewery of the Year.

The brewpub opened by SoDel Concepts also received three silver awards for its Beautiful Pomegranate Kettle Sour, Little Friday Helles Lager and The Shoals, a coffee stout brewed with AWAKE coffee from Swell Joe Coffee in Lewes.

For a year-old brewery to be honored among 800 competing beers from 14 countries is a promise that Thompson Island Brewing Company’s greatest beer is yet to be brewed, SoDel Concepts Director of Operations Matt Patton said.

“Over the course of that year, we made a commitment to using the best ingredients and put care into the selection of every beer we have chosen to brew,” Patton told the Delaware Business Times. “We’re proud to see our commitment to quality acknowledged. Delaware has some great breweries, so to be recognized among our peers, who we admire, really means a lot.”

SoDel Concepts operates 12 restaurants along Delaware’s coast, but Thompson Island Brewing Company is the company’s first brewpub. Combining a casual brewery feel with a comfort food menu and a bocce ball court, the spot is nothing like any other SoDel restaurant.

Patton, a self-described beer geek who serves as the company’s beer director, said he long pushed for SoDel to open a brewpub.

“I had great confidence in us as a company because we have so many great people. We’re all here because we love Coastal Delaware, and all that it has to offer,” he said.

The name of Thompson Island Brewing Company harkens to that love of Delaware’s beaches. Thompson Island is protected land in the Rehoboth Bay, visible on the bay side in Dewey Beach. Even though its namesake is something only locals know about, Patton said the vision was to make Thompson Island Brewery Company welcoming for all dining occasions.

“[This] is the culmination of our belief that beautiful simple food can translate to beautiful simple beers,” he said. “We do both at Thompson Island, creating an approachable menu that pairs great with beer, but still lives up to the standards for food and service that SoDel Concepts has become known for.”

While 2020 was challenging for restaurants across the country, Thompson Island Brewing Company developed a loyal following, even with capacity restrictions in place. Thompson Island opened in October 2019 and was closed in March when the COVID-19 pandemic came to Delaware, but later opened up for limited capacity and takeout.

Looking back on 2020, Patton said the greatest triumph was the struggle of overcoming a year where nothing was expected. He credits the team for rising to the occasion, while building up the Thompson Island Brewing Company brand. Despite the shutdown and reopening process, customers still came back in crowds for beer and food.

“We had become a place that the local clientele not only enjoyed but really supported through the shut down,” he said. “After the initial first week and the transitions from pick up to curbside carryout, to a combination of dine-in and curbside carryout, they came out in droves, bought tons of beer and really made this year great.”

Thompson Island Brewing Company plans to continue to brew award-winning beer and dabble in experimental styles for a new crush of customers this summer.

“We think it’s going to be busier than ever here in Coastal Delaware. People are looking forward to going out with friends and family, and we look forward to being the place where they can do that,” Patton said.


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