Mispillion River pairs with JD Shuckers on fruity IPA

Brandon Gouge, Mispillion River Brewing head brewer, mashes in the grain at the Mispillion River Brewing Company in Milford

MILFORD — Mispillion River Brewing has teamed up with JD Shuckers, a Sussex-based seafood restaurant, on a fruity new house IPA called the Shuck N’ Relax.

This unique new beer was developed via close collaboration between the staffs of the brewery and the restaurant and will be available exclusively at JD Shuckers.

“It’s a good, refreshing summertime beer,” said Zach Avery, JD Shuckers’ bar manager. “It complements seafood very well.”

He said because the beer, which is 6% alcohol by volume, contains passion fruit, dragon fruit and lime, it has a unique, eye-catching pink tint.

“It has the hops there, but the fruit really levels out the hops so you don’t get that bite at the end,” Mr. Avery said.

Eric Williams, the owner of Mispillion River Brewing in Milford, said he and his brewmaster worked very closely with JD Shucker on the beer.

Although Mispillion River Brewing has made custom beers for eateries like the Deer Park Tavern in Newark, Cantwell’s Tavern in Odessa and Woody’s in Dewey Beach, this effort was special.

“We’ve done collaborations with restaurants before, but this one was kind of unique because they gave a lot of feedback on what they wanted and worked with me and the brewer to come up with something that was special,” Mr. Williams said.

“We just went back and forth,” Mr. Avery said. “What we would do is they would make a batch and we would try it and tweak it a little bit.”

Developing the beer was a months-long process, Mr. Williams said, because after every taste test they would have to wait for the revised batch to ferment.

He said the JD Shuckers crew’s most influential suggestion “was just a little bit of lime and that just kind of topped off the beer and made it really popping and really delicious.”

Brandon Gouge, Mispillion River Brewing head brewere, takes a sample out of fermenter.

Mr. Avery said the Shuck N’ Relax pairs best with whitefish, swordfish or halibut, but that it’s a versatile beverage.

“With it being such a refreshing, crisp summertime beer, even if you paired it with say a steak or a burger, it’s still going to complement that,” he said.

The new beer debuted at a cookout JD Shuckers hosted on Saturday. Mr. Avery said the samples of Shuck N’ Relax offered then were well-received and the beer has been selling well since.

“Even people that weren’t big fans of IPAs loved it because the fruit really took away that bite at the end,” Mr. Avery said. “It wasn’t too bitter for them.”

The restaurant has already gone through two whole kegs.

There’s a mutual respect underpinning this business partnership. Mr. Avery said he’s been a longtime fan of Mispillion’s brews and Mr. Williams said JD Shuckers has differentiated itself from other restaurants in the area.

“They definitely have a name for themselves more than other places in southern Delaware,” Mr. Williams said.

He and Mr. Avery agreed that having this new beer on tap will improve sales at the restaurant.

“I think that’s going to draw a lot of attention and I think it would just overall build our clientele,” Mr. Avery said. “In Georgetown, there aren’t really many other restaurants, so I think it would be nice for us not only to have the only seafood restaurant around for the most part, but to be the only one to have our own beer.”

Although the restaurant has gotten busier in recent weeks, especially with take-out orders, Mr. Avery said that JD Shuckers has not been immune to the slump local restaurants have experienced in the COVID-19 era. On the other hand, Mr. Williams said Mispillion River Brewing was able to recover more quickly as the uncertainty subsided.

“For us, it’s just another notch of sorts,” Mr. Williams said of the collaboration, “another way to solidify our brand within the hospitality community.”

Mr. Avery has a bigger vision for Shuck N’ Relax. Although customers will still have to buy it at JD Shuckers, he said that soon patrons will be able to bring the beer home.

“We just wanted to see how it sells first and all that,” he said, but “eventually we are going to be canning it and selling growlers of it as well.”