Mispillion River Brewing mural part of statewide tourism initiative

The Delaware Tourism Office Monday introduces one stop along the new Delaware Discovery Trail at the Mispillion River Brewing Company. The Delaware Discovery Trail is comprised of nine one-of-a-kind interactive street art experiences throughout the state. From left are, Tom Little, Developing Artist Collaboration; Michael Johnson, artist; Liz Keller, director of the Delaware Tourism Office; and Eric Williams, Mispillion River Brewing Company founder. (Special to the Delaware State News/Ariane Mueller)

MILFORD — The Mispillion River has been re-imagined as a stream of Mispillion River Brewing-branded beer flowing from an open tap in a new mural painted on the side of the company’s factory and taproom.

On Tuesday afternoon, Lewes-based painter Michael Johnson debuted the mural in conjunction with the Delaware Tourism Office, which commissioned eight other murals across the state as part of the Delaware Discovery Trail.

“What we’re hoping is that the trail locations overall will drive greater awareness of some of our locations that are just a little bit off the beaten path,” said Liz Keller, the director of the Delaware Tourism Office.

“We wanted to bring something that would try to drive year-round tourism and targeted a younger demographic and make them excited about Delaware,” she said.

There are nine stops on the trail, from Bethany Beach all the way up to Wilmington.

Delaware Tourism Office Director Liz Keller, left, and Delaware Tourism Office Marketing Coordinator Jaclyn Ott show the prizes that can be won if visitors of the Discovery Trail send in one picture of four of the nine murals along the Discovery Trail. (Special to the Delaware State News/Ariane Mueller)

“It was a ton of fun to work on this,” Mr. Johnson said. “This is all exterior acrylic paint. I just put a coat of sealer over the top of it so that it will last a very long time.”

As a beach-loving Lewes native, he wanted to bring his affinity for water sports into the mural.

“People paddleboard and kayak (on the Mispillion River), so I chose to do paddle boarding so you can stand up and look like you’re getting shot away from this tap,” Mr. Johnson said.

As a photo opportunity, those who stop by Mispillion Brewing can pretend to grab a painted paddle and position themselves over a brushed-on board and imagine they’re surfing down a river of beer.

“I think in any place in the world you see street art, there’s some culture there,” said Tom Little, the founder of the Developing Artist Collaboration, a Delaware-based non-profit which helped coordinate the murals.

“Having those places where people can share on social media and post the places where they’ve been, people want to do that, so being able to offer those spots throughout the state will help drive more tourism,” he said.

“What we hope is that it’s an (Instagram) weekend, so they’re finding that moment that they can share on social media and make all of their followers jealous that they’re on a new, exciting trail,” Ms. Keller said.

She said there are two primary audiences for the trail.

“We do hope it reaches a younger demographic, but also the arts lovers in the world,” Ms. Keller said. “If you love art, each artist has a different vision, and you can tell from each of the pieces they’re very different in their style.”

Mr. Little said that including a brewery on the trail was a no-brainer.

“Beer is definitely a big part of Delaware tourism,” he said. “The brewery scene is huge down here, so I think it was vital that we took a brewery like Mispillion.”

Eric Williams, the founder of Mispillion Brewing, was excited to be involved.

“I think it’s already made the front of our building look amazing,” he said. “The mural is just awesome. It represents Milford. I’m very pleased with it.”

Mr. Williams said the painting has transformed the building his company operates out of from a simple metal structure into a destination. Although he said most of the idea was Mr. Johnson’s, Mr. Williams did have some input.

“The biggest input was… the beer flowing out of the tap handle, and then we incorporated it into our new sign,” he said.

Ms. Keller said that in addition to bringing people from out of state, the campaign is meant to get Delawareans to explore the First State themselves.

“We hope people will safely explore their own backyard,” she said. “People from Wilmington will go to Trap Pond State Park and people in Laurel will go up to the riverfront. It’s really great a way to get to know your state better.”

Those interested in stopping by any or all of the trail’s nine stops can get more information at delawarediscoveries.com.

“On our website, you can actually find not just the trail locations but where you can dine, where you can stay and what other things you can do around these locations,” Ms. Keller said.

Additionally, she said those who start going to the trail stops and posting their pictures online soon could have a prize in their future.

“Once a traveler visits four of the nine locations, you can send the photos to us at delawarediscoveries.com and you will receive a limited edition prize,” Ms. Keller said, “which is a paint-pour do-it-yourself box created by the Developing Artist Collaboration.”

She said there are only 200 available of the limited edition boxes available, so those who want one should get on the road soon.

Reach staff writer Noah Zucker at nzucker@newszap.com