Saturday, June 6, 2015

Dogfish Head

Sometimes you just need to get away.  One of my favorite spots to go is Rehoboth Beach, DE.  Great beaches, seafood, amazing beer, and lots of things to do with the family.  Every time I go to the East Coast, I have to pick up some Yuengling Lager.  I know some craft beer enthusiast may give me a hard time about that, but you can't beat a Yuengling Lager on a warm summer day at the beach or at home in the back yard.  For the same price as Budweiser, you get a full flavored lager you can actually enjoy.  They are America's oldest brewery for a reason.  They know how to make good beer.
About 12 years ago, I stopped at a brewpub in Rehoboth Beach for lunch with my wife and my sister.  Not being that into craft beer, I ordered the Pale Ale (about the only beer I really liked at the time.) It was fantastic.  I saw a sign for a Punkin Ale, I've never heard of such a thing, so I decided to be adventurous and give it a try.  What I tasted blew my mind, and changed my life forever.  Since that beer, I've been trying all different styles of craft beer, and have been homebrewing for nearly 10 years.  All because we stopped at Dogfish Head for lunch.
The brewery was started by Sam Calagione 20 years ago, and he pushed the limits of what beer could taste like.  One of the things that he was a pioneer in was continuous hopping.  Prior to that  all brewers added the hops at the beginning and the end of the boil, with some adding a third edition in the middle.  Sam used this old electronic football game, and a bucket with holes drilled in it to shake, and drop the hops in throughout to boil.  It may sound silly now, but it was revolutionary at the time.  Now Dogfish Head is famous for their continually hopped IPA's like 60, 90, and 120 Minute IPA. Below, is the original 10 gallon Sabco Brew Magic that Sam used to start the company, which is now the 11th largest Craft Brewery in the country.

One of my favorite brews is the Palo Santo Marron.   It's a 12% ABV Brown Ale aged in the tanks seen here.   Some of those tanks are made of Oak to age beers like Burton Baton as well.  By now you may be wondering how I've gotten all these pictures of this amazing brewery?  The answer is Dan Weber.  Dan is a fellow Iowan who worked for Millstream Brewery before leaving for Dogfish Head nearly 4 years ago.  Here's a bit of info in this link.
Dan is now the brewery supervisor at Dogfish Head, and with luck, and help from my brother in-law, Chad, I was able to get a private tour of the brewery from him.
Not only was I blown away by the shear size of the brewery, I was also blown away by Dan's generosity.  He took me and my father in-law, Larry around the entire brewery for nearly 2 hours on his afternoon off.  He indulged me lots of pictures and questions.

Dogfish Head is a special place for me, as it sparked my passion for craft beer, I've even received an email from Sam Calagione years ago.  So for Dan to take time out of his day to show me around, it was truly amazing.  Hopefully I'll get to buy him a beer at Single Speed or Toppling Goliath next time he's in Iowa.

Pictured to the left are some of the fermenting tanks.

We also got to sample a few beers prior to our tour.  I enjoyed a Festina Peche, Grateful Dead American Beauty (a new favorite of mine,) 90 Minute IPA, and a Palo Santo Marron.
Pictured to the right are kegs waiting to be shipped out, about 2 weeks supply or so.  We saw them on the way into the bottling facility and I had to grab a couple of photos of all that beer.  Below are about 2 weeks worth of beer bottled and ready to be shipped out.  It was hard not to pull a Scrooge McDuck and dive into all that wonderful beer!
On our tour, Dan showed us brewhouse 1 and 2, the wood room, the fermenters, brite tanks, keg fillers, the warehouse, the bottling line, the laboratory, and more.  This was a day that I won't be forgetting for a very long time.  To be in the mecca of Craft beer was truly awe inspiring.  And, after 2 hours of standing and walking, my legs were shot, so the best thing for us to do, was head back to the beach side condo for some more beer!
In case you didn't know, Dogfish Head also has a distillery.  It had been in the brewpub, but it's growing so much it has a new home at the brewery.  This is the distillery as they're still getting it ready for operation.  Their Honey Brown Rum is ridiculous, and my mother in-law, Ruth is a big fan of their vodka.
After a great week on the beach with my family, it was time for the 19 hour car ride home.  Never a fun thing!  We made it back home safe and sound, and are trying to get back into our regular schedule (also not easy.)  I had to try out my new IPA glass this week.  Dispite being packed into our car like sardines on the drive home, my Dogfish Head IPA glass made it safe too.  Picture is my Triple Double IPA.  After a few weeks in the keg, this brew has come into its own.  This is one of my favorite beer that I've brewed in the past 2 years.

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1 comment:

  1. Great pictures. Great story. Sounds like an ideal beercation.