Breweries are the only places selling fresh local beer at the beach: You can find it at an increasing number of craft-focused beer bars, as well as liquor stores that fill growlers.
Some people might want to try a few samples before leaving the beach to visit one particular brewery. Fortunately for those folks, a growing number of craft beer bars along Coastal Highway offer local brews on tap, allowing visitors to decide whether they'd get more bang for their buck by driving to Salisbury, Delmar or Milford.
45th Street Taphouse Bar & Grille
4507 Coastal Hwy., Ocean City, Md. 443-664-2201. www.45taphouse.com.
Local beers are as much of a draw here as views of the sunset over Isle of Wight Bay. Among the 36 taps, we found three each from Dogfish Head, Evolution and Burley Oak, plus handles for 16 Mile and 3rd Wave. All craft beers are $1 off from 11 a.m. until sunset.
The Abbey Burger Bistro
12601 Coastal Hwy., Ocean City, Md. 410-250-2333. www.facebook.com/abbeyburgerbistrooceancitymd.
This offshoot of Baltimore's wildly popular Abbey Burger Bistro is less pubby and more bland than its Charm City counterpart. The juicy and gigantic burgers are the stars, followed closely by the beer list. Among the 48 drafts, we found every Eastern Shore brewery except Mispillion River (which doesn't distribute in Maryland) - even tiny Tall Tales.
9935 Stephen Decatur Hwy., Ocean City, Md. 410-524-2922. www.pizzatugos.com.
This family-friendly pizzeria has three locations in Ocean City, but the Taproom in West Ocean City had multiple Burley Oak, Evolution and Dogfish Head beers available during a recent visit, plus a solid selection from other Maryland and Delaware breweries, including Fin City.
Gary's Dewey Beach Grill
2000 Coastal Hwy., Dewey Beach, Del. 302-227-8519. www.garysdeweybeachgrill.com.
The best beer selection in Dewey Beach regularly features a draft and cask from 16 Mile, plus taps from Evolution, 3rd Wave and Dogfish Head. Many others are available in bottles.
Rehoboth Ale House
15 Wilmington Ave., Rehoboth Beach, Del. 302-227-2337. www.rehobothalehouse.com.
I'll be honest: The craft beer menu and killer weekday happy hour make Henlopen City Oyster House my favorite Rehoboth beer bar. The Rehoboth Ale House, however, which is just down Wilmington Avenue, has a much stronger local craft beer lineup, including 16 Mile, 3rd Wave and Evolution. Bonus: Local drafts are $1 off on Tuesdays.
The Pickled Pig Pub
18756 Coastal Hwy., Rehoboth Beach, Del. 302-645-5444. www.pickledpigpub.com.
A cool restaurant with a meaty menu of sausages, ribs and burgers, the Pickled Pig is committed to Delaware beers: It hosts "16 Mile Fridays" with $3 pints from the brewery, and Thursdays feature Dogfish Head beers poured through the brewery's Randall infuser. You'll also find such First State beers as Mispillion River and Twin Lakes on tap and in cans.
Breweries aren't the only places where you can fill a growler at the beach: Delaware and Maryland both passed legislation in 2013 that allows certain liquor stores or bars to set up their own draft lines for beer to go. Regulations vary by county.
Ocean City has no places filling growlers other than brewpubs. In the resort area of Delaware, only three liquor stores have the required licenses, and all three regularly update their draft lists online, so take a look before you go.
Banks Wines and Spirits in Millville (on Route 26, convenient for Bethany and Fenwick) has an eight-tap growler station that includes Dogfish Head's Shelter Pale Ale - which can be found on tap only in Delaware - plus regular selections from 16 Mile, 3rd Wave and Twin Lakes, a brewery just outside of Wilmington.
Banks Wines and Spirits, 38014 Town Center Dr., Millville, Del. 302-537-8008. www.bankswinesandspirits.com.
Beach Liquors, which has locations in Fenwick Island and Bethany Beach, went one step further and got Mispillion River to create an exclusive beer for the store, called Cedar Island Pale Ale. Each location has six tap lines, split between national names (for example, Goose Island and Oskar Blues) and locals (16 Mile, Dogfish Head and Mispillion River).
Beach Liquors, 1300 Coastal Hwy., Fenwick Island, Del. 302-541-4200; 32967 Coastal Hwy., Bethany Beach, Del. 302-539-7400. www.beachliquors.com.