Food and drink / Real estate / Retail

Midnight Oil becomes McConnell Development’s first brewery tenant

Newark's only full-production brewery has ties to 1313 Innovation, which just might get its own branded beer.

Midnight Oil cofounders TJ McGrath, Joe Stickel and Patrick Jones. (Photo by Holly Quinn)

Midnight Oil Brewing Company is having its grand opening on Saturday, Feb. 3, but if you don’t already have tickets, don’t bother trying to get in. The event sold out quickly, as word spread via its Facebook page.

“We do a lot of Facebook marketing,” One of Midnight Oil’s three owners and founders, Joe Stickel, said, just a few days before the doors open to the full production brewery with a stylish bar area in the front.

The brewery was born about five years ago when Mike Dunlap, a home brewing hobbyist formerly in IT, realized his brewing skills had become sharp enough to potentially start a viable company. The years since were spent planning and building the business with cofounders TJ McGrath and Stickel, who came on about three years ago; Patrick Jones, the company’s director of sales and taproom operations, joined a year and a half ago.

Initially, the brewery was going to be based in Newport, with its industrial parks that meet Delaware’s strict codes for full production breweries (Twin Lakes eventually settled in Newport). When that fell through, they decided to take a step back and wait for the perfect location.

“It was like when you’re buying a house — you walk in and you know it’s home,” said Stickel of the first time they saw the space at 674 Pencader Dr., in the middle of a sprawling industrial park in Glasgow.

When you step into the brewery itself, you can see why. The ceilings are at least 30 feet high, making the half-dozen or so tanks they have set up so far look small. There’s plenty of room to grow for a young brewery.

The property is owned by McConnell Development, which gives it a connection to 1313 Innovation, the downtown Wilmington coworking space founded by Paul McConnell.

“This is our first-ever brewery,” said McConnell. “We’re excited to have them as tenants.”

It could mean that 1313 Innovation could have its own branded beer in the future, and Midnight Oil could have a built-in downtown fanbase among the startup community.

For now, the new brewery is focused on its own space, which has been completely renovated since last April. Jones designed the tasting room, from the furniture to the commissioning of graffiti artist and DCAD grad Derrick Noel to paint a focal-point mural on the front of the bar.

The Midnight Oil mural. (Photo by Holly Quinn)

The Midnight Oil mural. (Photo by Holly Quinn)

While you may not be able to get in to the opening party, doors will open to the public Sunday, Feb. 4 — Eagles Super Bowl Sunday — at 11 a.m., and they’ll be open seven days a week after that from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

“The plan is to have food trucks every day for lunch and dinner,” said Jones. A Facebook call for food trucks got lots of response, and they’re still taking on more (if you’ve got a truck and are interested, click here). Some of the trucks so far include The Wandering Chef Catering CartDowntime RefreshmentNatalie’s Fine FoodUncle Johns BBQ StandThe Hungry Spork and WiLDWiCH.

Midnight Oil’s location, several miles removed from both downtown Newark and downtown Wilmington, is potentially a big asset for the weekday lunch hour.

“About 5,000 people work in this complex,” Stickel said, at companies like United Cocoa Processors, Accudyne Systems and the Delaware Department of Labor.

Midnight Oil’s brews will include saison, porter, stout, APA and IPA, as well as seasonals with names like “Dark Matter” and “Sleep is for the Weak.”

Companies: The McConnell Companies

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