The prime movers at Nage, Nage Pantry, Big Chill Surf Cantina and the Taco Reho truck opened their long-awaited Crooked Hammock Brewpub in the late fall 2015. The multi-bar complex is located off King's Highway in Lewes, just past Parsell's and across from the Beach Plum Dunes Apartments. The big stainless steel brewing system (already being expanded just a couple of months since they opened) is up and running, and co-owner Rich Garrahan says that they brew exclusively for the Crooked Hammock restaurant, Fork & Flask @ Nage, Big Chill, a(MUSE.), Lefty's Alley & Eats and who knows where else.
Listen to Crooked Hammock boss Josh Grapski and (former) Beer Lady Jenn Chace on the radio with the Rehoboth Foodie.
The concept is “backyard beer garden,” with a secluded feel. Fairly light, sessionable brews predominate, sharing a reduction in the hoppiness that seems to have become ubiquitous nowadays. The menu stays in the backyard BBQ style, with beef short ribs (one of the stars of the show! See the pic in the gallery), some interesting appetizers and a large selection of comfort-food sides. Sandwiches include burgers, grilled sausage & peppers and a crab cake sandwich that is particularly good.
UPDATE! Well, this is our 9th visit to Crooked Hammock. The somewhat haphazard service of last year has smoothed out substantially. Servers are moving quickly in and out of the kitchen and people seem happy. Of course, that happiness could be due to all that beer, but I have to say that whatever growing pains CH experienced are now over with. The food is much more consistent (I will take this opportunity to say this yet again. Hear me people: THIS IS BAR FOOD. Rather clever bar food, but BAR FOOD nonetheless. THIS IS NOT NAGE. Do not send me one more whining email that the food isn't like Nage. It's not supposed to be. If you want Nage, go there.) Sadly, in our increasingly illiterate society, anything longer than a Tweet is often ignored, and I get the annoying emails asking obvious questions. Oh well, at least they're emailing me…. Whew! Thank you. I feel better. If you haven't clicked DELETE by now, check out the new photos in the gallery.
Crooked Hammock is pretty good beers and bar food with a bit of a clever twist. Like any brand new restaurant, things got off to a bit of a rough start in both the food and service department, but our last few visits have been spot-on with good service (it was nice to see the skilled and smiling Kyle from Buffalo Wild Wings on the floor!). Truth be told, this is brewpub food – hamburgers, wings, chicken sandwiches, pretzels, mac ‘n' cheese, a BLT, chicken salad, a hot dog, and the occasional clever entree special.
Crooked Hammock Brewery1/28 Crooked Hammock Brewery2/28 Crooked Hammock Brewery3/28 A mountainous BLT with lots of sides4/28 cheddar/bacon deviled egg5/28 Crooked Hammock Brewery6/28 Crooked Hammock Brewery7/28 Crooked Hammock Brewery8/28 Beer pretzel. Fresh & hot.9/28 Tanks for the memories…10/28 Crooked Hammock Brewery11/28 Crooked Hammock Brewery12/28 Buffalo Chicken sandwich13/28 Nachos14/28 Red Ryder Pork special15/28 Crooked Hammock Brewery16/28 some sides17/28 Chicken fried chicken18/28 Crooked Hammock Brewery19/28 Hong Kong Phooey – soon to be on the menu20/28 housemade chips21/28 North Carolina shredded pork sandwich22/28 Crooked Hammock Brewery23/28 Chili cheese dog. The jalapenos are optional!24/28 Crooked Hammock Brewery25/28 Crooked Hammock Brewery26/28 Salmon with three sides27/28 Vegetarians rejoice! ‘Bello Cheesesteak.28/28
We were actually quite impressed with the Red Ryder (a specialty beer) Braised Pork with braised red cabbage, apples and surprisingly good mashers (see the pic in the gallery). This thoughtfully put together dish (courtesy of Matt in the kitchen) was quite flavorful with a very generous portion. At $22, this one would have gone for $32 in downtown Rehoboth. If you are lucky enough to get a seat at the bar, say hi to Beer Lady and proclaimed Ambassador of Awesomeness Jenn Chace. You can also listen to her by clicking the link above. She and her instant wit and humor will guide you through the nooks and crannies of the food and drink menu.
It's hard to escape from the apps menu. The deviled eggs are quite good, and the crab balls are particularly nice. I wish more people served a crab cake that tasted like those (they reminded me of the now-long-gone Gunnings in Baltimore. This place raised frying to an art form). The Giant Bavarian Pretzel is also quite nice, with a side of cheezy dip. Remember: brewpub! A couple of the more unusual items on the menu at Crooked Hammock include a Chili Cheese Dog with a beery chili, Pig on a Stick (bacon-wrapped lardons with peppers – a bit of old Atlantic City on a skewer) and the Nachos Muchachos, sporting corn and black beans. The additional texture is a nice touch. (Pepper wimps, relax … the plethora of jalapenos in the image in the gallery were requested by me.)
UPDATE! Crooked Hammock has definitely come into its own over the last several months (it is now early spring 2016). The service gaffes and front-of-house bewilderment is gone. Servers move quickly and confidently across the massive complex, and often several runners will deliver food to your table. Service is as friendly as it needs to be, but an air of professionalism is definitely there. New items on the menu also also winners, including the pork sandwich (I watched over 25 come out of the kitchen the last time I was there … they must be doing something right!). The cornbread is better than it was when they first opened, and if the Hong Kong Phooey wings are on the menu, don't miss them. We got a sneak peek on our last visit (thanks, Rich!), and i hope they put them on exactly as we had them.
Choose from five salads (including the Caesar and of course the obligatory Wedge), several klever kabobs (sorry, had to do it), and a plethora of sides – both decadent and healthy – and one of the nice features there is that you can get a trio of any of the sides for $5.95. A good way to try everything (don't miss the mac ‘n' cheese – straight ahead, cheezy and uncomplicated).
At the time of this writing, there are five house brews put together by resident brewmeister Chris Wright: A light and very sessionable Saison, the Shoobie (listen to Grapski and Chace on my radio show – link above – to learn where that name came from), Mootzy's Treasure (Richard “Mootzy” Mootz is a native of Sussex County, DE who proudly served in WWII. After the war, he recovered stolen treasures as one of the famous Monument Men. That became his avocation in life, and he has continued to recover treasure throughout Sussex County. Much of his collection has been made into Crooked Hammock décor including the tables, bar and wall hangings), the Backyard Brown (Slightly caramelly and easy to drink. Looks dark and sort of heavy – it is not.), and their inaugural Wilbon – a Belgian style Tripel that is crisp and gently assertive.
And of course there ARE hammocks out in the back yard. Crooked? Maybe not, but hammocks nonetheless.
Crooked Hammock joins Fins' Big Oyster Brewery on Coastal Highway and Dewey Beer and Food Company in Dewey as the latest in a series of brewpubs to jump on the craft brew bandwagon. Who will be next? The Foodie knows: Keep an eye on Lewes (yup, yet again!) and also Smyrna, where Nage founder and now Abbott's Milford chef/boss Kevin Reading has teamed up with Eric Williams from Mispillion River Brewing at the brand new Brick Works Brewing and Eats, up and running as of mid-spring 2016.
The brewery is fully visible through huge windows, and is brightly lit, providing the intended hi-tech effect. Special kudos to interior designer Steve McLerran on the engaging, yet “backyard” look. Crooked Hammock will be open every day, year-round, from 11a 'til 1a. Crooked Hammock Brewpub is located at 16989 Kings Highway, Lewes, just past Parsell's Funeral Home as you enter Kings Highway from Coastal Highway in Lewes. They can be reached at 302-644-7837.
Check out the pics in the gallery. See their website here.