Meet the Maker: Eric Williams of Mispillion River Brewing Company
Craft beer lovers across the nation have been showing a lot of love lately for the quirky-but-cool Mispillion River Brewing, which has been turning out offbeat beers for nine years now from its brewery and tasting room in Milford, Delaware.
This DE on Tap favorite was conceived and launched by native Delawarean Eric Williams, but he says its delightfully kitschy character is also a product of the passionate team members who are key to making these delicious beers a reality. Here’s a closer look at Williams and the culture of laid-back commitment he sustains.
Q Tell us a little about your background, Eric.
A I was born in Northern Delaware, then went to college in Montana and North Carolina for wildlife biology, and eventually ended up in the home painting products industry at Sherwin-Williams. When I decided to come back to Delaware along with my three daughters, Milford became home.
Q The website says you were a country musician and a “former child star.” Really?
A Haha, none of that is true. We made it all up. It goes back to our silliness, the campiness that defines our brewery and our approach to things. We’re a bunch of fun, goofy, nerdy people who love to make beer. We hope that attitude rubs off on our customers: It’s important to not take life too seriously, to forget about problems for a little while.
Q What inspired you to start a brewery?
A I was a weekend homebrewer, and I loved brewing beer. I got the idea that because of the great team we had at Sherwin-Williams, I thought, “I can build a team, why don’t I open a brewery?” I wanted to create a place where people came in the door, the door shut, and they stopped worrying about what was going on in their world.
Q What’s the brewmaster philosophy at Mispillion? Are certain styles emphasized?
A We brew beer that our friends like to drink. We are trying to brew unique beers. We do big juicy IPAs really well. We have a lot of porters and stouts. But our most unique product is our “War” series, a sour beer that we flavor with electrolytes, like Gatorade. So it has a sweetness, a tartness.
Q Any tips for newcomers hoping to enjoy the full Mispillion experience?
A Stop by when we have Trivia Nights, or “Music Bingo.” Our trivia is the best trivia in the world that’s held on Tuesday nights in Milford, Delaware. The Music Bingo is fun, it’s all app based, so you can do it on your phone. And look out for Meatball Con in the spring, and our Chili Cookoff in the fall.
Q We keep hearing about “Chelsea’s Famous Bloody Mary Bar.” Do tell us more.
A That’s part of our commitment to include other beverage options, to include people besides craft beer drinkers. We usually have it once a month, but right now it doesn’t exist, because any day now Chelsea is getting ready to have a baby.
Q Are there any Mispillion creations that you’d recommend for people seeking an introduction to the brand?
A People love the “War” series – War Badger, War Goose, War Possum, War Llama. They have fun, unique colors and flavors – mixed berry, grape, fruit punch. We’ll be putting out a special 9-pack of those in April. Our Yardbird Lager is one of my favorites -- it’s a pure, clean craft brew experience.
Q Delaware seems to be getting more recognition as a great place for great craft beer. There’s even a beer, wine and spirits app: DE on Tap. What’s driving the state's reputation?
A I think every brewery in the state owes a debt of gratitude towards Dogfish Head and Iron Hill, for what they’ve done to bring attention to craft brewing as a whole. They’ve been real stewards for our entire industry here. Now, you can come to Delaware and spend days hitting every brewery in the state, and get a completely different experience at every brewery. The word is out.
Q What are some of the greatest joys of running a brewery?
A Some of my best friends in the entire world started out as customers. I met my girlfriend at the brewery, and I may have never met her if not for the brewery. That’s been something that I didn’t plan for. But it’s been the best job I’ve ever had.