It all started with a beer kit. Smyrna resident Ron Price had a love of cooking, which turned into an interest in barbequing and making gourmet sauces. Then one day Price bought a beer kit in Stanton, Delaware.
“You poured the extract into a pot with water and brought it to a boil. Hops were added. The liquid was chilled, yeast was added and voila you had beer to bottle,” Price said.
Fast-forward 22 years and Price is in the midst of taking his home brews public, planning to open Warlock Brewing at 210 Artisan Drive in the Smyrna Business Park. He expects the lease for the building to begin Aug. 1, and his bank loan to close Sept. 1.
“I’m ecstatic to put it lightly,” Price said.
Price started brewing beer as a home brewer in 1992, but it wasn’t until two years ago that he and his wife, Rosemary, decided to turn his passion into a career by opening up a brewery.
Soon Warlock Brewing will be the latest brewery to add to the ever growing list of breweries in the Delaware.
What’s going to be brewing at Warlock?
Price said the brewery will offer hoppy American-style beers, brews with Belgium flavors, and German lagers and ales. He’ll also have specialty recipes and seasonal beers. The brewery will offer an ongoing assortment of recipes that will be continuously produced throughout the year.
Price said it’s the grains, use of different hops and yeast strains that gives beer its flavor. Other specialty ingredients such as herbs, spices and fruits also add flavors to beer.
“Beer picks up where wine left off,” Price said. “Wine consists of two ingredients – grapes and yeast – whereas beer has an assortment of ingredients that come together to make flavor. The flavor profile of beer is more complex than the flavor profile of wine. Wine is acidic, sweet, and maybe alcoholic. Beer can be malty, sweet, bitter, dry, fruity, roasty and spicy.”
Rosemary, who is her husband’s chief taste tester, said her favorite beers are the Belgiums. She thinks even non-beer drinkers will find a brew at Warlock Brewing they can enjoy.
Warlock Brewing will start out as a family venture, but Rosemary said they hope to add employees whenever the business takes off financially. She said they hope the business will not only be profitable for the brewery, but for the town as well.
Price said the duo decided to bring Warlock Brewing to their hometown because of the laidback feel of the town and the charm of historic downtown Smyrna.
“We like the feel of the tight-knit community but also I just feel like this is the place,” Price said. “It’s just a gut feeling. It’s not something I can explain other than it feels like home for Warlock.”
While it’ll still be a few months before Warlock Brewing opens, residents in Smyrna are already excited at the idea there will be a brewery in Smyrna.
Dustin Coleman has lived in Smyrna most of his life, and has visited other Delaware breweries such as Dogfish Head and Old Dominion.
“I think it’s a great thing for the town to have a local brewery,” Coleman said. “I like doing the tours and the tastings. Every brewery has its own unique flavors.”
What else can people expect at Warlock?
Price is a semi-retired musician. His love of music will be felt in the brewery as he always plans to have some sort of entertainment whether it’s live music, a fundraiser or a game of poker. There will be a tasting room, tours and some snacks, he said.
First he needs to get approval from the health department, fire marshal, and Town of Smyrna. Price hopes to be brewing beer before the end of the year.
Not an easy road
It’s been a whirlwind few months for Warlock Brewing, especially considering at one point it didn’t look like Price was going to get approval for the brewery from Smyrna Town Council.
This spring Smyrna Council members voted down a zoning amendment that would enable a brewery as a conditional use in the business park. Some council members didn’t think the business park was the right location for the brewery while others were concerned there had been too many zoning amendments already. A few weeks later Smyrna Town Council members brought the zoning amendment back to the table and approved the change. Eventually both Smyrna Town Council and the Planning & Zoning Commission approved Price’s conditional use application for the brewery.
Smyrna Town Manager Dave Hugg has been a big supporter of the project since Price first approached the town over a year ago.
“I’m excited. It’s great for the town,” Hugg previously said. “I think it will trigger all kinds of things we haven’t even thought about.”