Sunday, December 13, 2015

Hopsimus Overdrive

 Is there anything better than 1980's action movies? Rambo, Tango and Cash, Die Hard, and Tremers where all fantastically big, in your face movies from the past. Like those, Maximum Overdrive was one of those big budget, over the top, cheesy, yet highly entertaining movies that I loved to watch growing up and still thoroughly enjoy today.  So when I brewed a 12.5% Double IPA, I was reminded of these big, crazy movies, so I named the beer Hopsimus Overdrive.

 Here is my first glass of this behemoth. It needs a bit more time to increase the carbonation level, but overall I was thrilled with what I tasted.  The sweetness of the malt was well balanced by the loads of fresh hops, and the honey and grape juice shined through without overpowering or being cloyingly sweet.  This beer may actually have been better with more hops, maybe even some time aging on some oak, but that's more just nitpicking.  I'm very happy with how it turned out, and expect it to get even better with a little time.

 A good way to follow up such a powerful beer is with something completely different. Toppling Goliath's Rover Truck is full of roasty and chocolatey goodness. Very smooth, this brew is perfect to enjoy with some desert, and actually paired quite nicely with some peanut M&M's. Yet another quality TG beer that probably gets overshadowed by all their fantastic IPA's.

This oddly named Barrel Aged Barley Wine brewed by Backpocket is one of the best beers I've had all year. Old Bufflehead is exactly what I want in a great Barley wine. Thick, perfectly balanced sweetness and bitterness, and aged to absolute perfection in Cedar Ridge bourbon barrels, this was a great beer to enjoy while watching the Iowa Haweyes play for the Big 10 title. The higher ABV of the beer also helped ease the loss.

I hope everyone enjoys the holidays, and Santa brings you lots of great beer! Cheers!

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Saturday, November 14, 2015

Save the Ales!

 After many moths away, it was time to brew again.  This time I brewed a partial mash Double IPA.  I had 7 pounds of home grown hops (mostly Nugget) to create this monster brew with (with another pound of Mt Hood reserved for dry hopping.)  Jared provided me with 3 pounds of honey and 128 oz of white grape juice to make this the biggest beer that I've ever brewed before.  This bad boy should end up right around 12% ABV!

Of course every brew has it's own set of problems.  This one my yeast didn't take off.  Luckily, I have a guy for that.  Jerry at Bluff Street Brew Haus in Dubuque always has me covered for all of my brewing needs.  This beer is now happily bubbling away in the fermenter thanks to the extra yeast from Jerry.

 Did you know there's another brewery in Decorah, that's not called Toppling Goliath?  On a chilly Halloween afternoon I took a road trip with Jared, Chad, and Larry to grab some "to go" beer from TG, and to check out Pulpit Brock Brewing.

We sampled several of the beers they had available, some good, some not so much.  The best of the day was The Pour Over Porter, a 6.5% ABV Porter brewed with coffee.  The taproom was cramped, but I was with good company and the Iowa game was on the TV, so I didn't care.  This place is worth checking  out, and I look forward to trying more of their brews.

Unita Anniversary Barley Wine was not what I was hoping for.  Big, bold Barley Wine's are some of my favorite beers, but I ended up being very disappointed with this one.  Maybe the bottle I had was mishandled some how, and the beer wasn't as good as a result, but this is not even a beer I would take another chance on when there are so many delicious Barley Wines available like Killer Penguin or Olde School Barleywine.
This was the last of my vacation beers that I brought back from Deleware.  It's too bad I didn't have room for more beers like this.  Morning Glory Expresso Stout is a 9% AVB stout that's thick and roasty, with a nice balanced coffee flavor, and it drank surprisingly smooth.  This one is a definite must buy if you see it.

There are tons of great beers coming out soon that I hope to get my hands on.  TG Sosus and King Sue, and of course, with Black Friday coming  Bourbon County Stout will be released too.  It's time to start collecting brews to share with the family and friends over the holidays so keep your eyes out!  Don't forget the great local breweries too.  A growler from Single Speed, 515, or Millstream is the perfect thing to share at holiday parties.

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Saturday, October 24, 2015


 How can you not love this time of year?  The leaves are changing, the heat and humidity is gone, pumpkin beer are everywhere, and of course, football is back!  I admit, I enjoy putting on a comfortable hoodie and sipping a nice imperial stout this time of year, but can you ever go wrong with a good IPA?  I don't think so.  Toppling Goliath does it again with another fantastic Double IPA, Hopsmack.
This brew falls in line with every other Double IPA from TG.  Great aroma, well balanced between the sweet malts, and the bitter hops, and a load of citrus flavor from what I can only imagine as the ton of hops Brew Master Mike put in this batch.  Keep your eye on TG, they are hinting at big things to come on their social media accounts.  I just hope I can try whatever it is, before it's gone!
There is my friend Dee walking Arson around the show ring at the Mason City Dog show a few weeks ago.  Arson was super excited to back at a dog show, but pranced around the ring like a champ.  Still no points for him, but he won his group and took Winners Reserve.  Not bad for a 9 month old. The best part of the day for me was spending time with Joseph and Arson, and seeing the bond between boy and dog grow every day.

Also, congratulations to Pam and Duane along with Aldo for taking Best of Breed on Saturday and Best of Show on Sunday making Aldo a Grand Champion!

 My little guy turned 10 this week, and it's been amazing to watch him grow.  He's smart and funny, and turning into a wonderful young man.

This was his second year in football (3rd and 4th graders.)  A lot has changed since last year, he tried harder, payed closer attention in practice, and has become more confident.  The little Cougars went 4-0 on the season!

Thanks to couch Mike for another great season, you always do a fantastic job with the kids.  Also, thanks for letting me help out on the sidelines during the games, I had a blast doing it.

 So this entry is a bit more family centered, but it's still a beer blog.  So here's a must try beer for everyone.  The Kimmie, The Yink, and the Holy Gose, it's more than just a great name.  You can read more info on the beer on the link.

Gose is a fairly new style of beer to me, but so far, I've really enjoyed the few I've had, and I think this one would be great on hot summer day.  I could definitely envision enjoying some on Pat's boat on the Rock River fishing for catfish.

How do you celebrate your son's 10th birthday, and your In-Laws 40th Wedding Anniversary?  I think everyone know playing rotten vegetable baseball, drinking good beer, eating too much food, and going to a giant pumpkin patch is the answer!  Above is Joseph taking a swing at a zucchini.  Pictured to the right is Joseph with his two uncles, Chad and Jared.  Apparently Pinter's is the place to be during the fall.  With activities like giant chess and checkers, tether ball, a corn maze, giant tire obstacle coarse, and tons more, we kept the family busy for nearly 5 hours.  By the way, I had Chad and Jared on the ropes before I made a stupid move and they capitalized on it.  Nice win guys, I'll get you next time!  Also a big congratulations for 40 year of marriage to Larry and Ruth!!

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Thursday, September 10, 2015

515 Show Dogs

 Arson, our 7 month old Welsh Springer Spaniel, was old enough for his first dog show.  We took him to Des Moines the day before the show to leave him with his breeder and co-owners Dee and Peggy.  When he wasn't at the show, he was able to play with his sister, two other Welsh Springer Spaniels, and  a whole litter of adorable Clumber Spaniels.

After we dropped him off, we went to Jethro's BBQ and had a fantastic dinner.  We shared a basket of fried pickles, and I feasted on a brisket sandwich and tater tot casserole.  Extremely filling, and probably the best meal of he weekend. After some swimming to wear off the meal, we called it a day, and went to be early so we could get up for the dog show the next morning.

Although he didn't win his first show, he stood great for the judge, and pranced around the ring like he's been there before.  His next show will be in October.  As you can see from above, Joseph was very excited and proud to see him in the ring.
Arson in the ring with Dee
OJ IPA, Mediocre Pale Ale, Reaper In the Rye, Dart Dodger

What do you do after a dog show?  You get some beer, of course!  A quick drive to Ankeney to visit the best HyVee there is, and it also an amazing Craft Beer selection.  If you're visiting the area, this is a must visit.  I picked up an 8 pack sampler (some listed below,) and after a few more stops, we made the best stop of the day.  515 brewing. 

After hearing about their OJ IPA and Mediocre Pale Ale for months, I needed to try them for myself.  The staff behind the bar was excellent.  Friendly, and very knowledgeable, they gave me some great recommendations to fill up the remainder of my beer flight.  I won't go into the wonderful hoppy flavors, or great malt backbones, or even the spicey rye in the Reaper, because I think this is something everyone needs to experience for themselves.  I'm so glad I stopped to try a few of their beers, and really wished I would have filled up a growler before I left, because some Dart Dodger sounds perfect about now.  In short, this place is the real deal.  They have amazing beers, that are as good or better than advertised, and I can't wait to go back to try more.  Cheers to everyone at 515!!

New to Iowa, and to me, is Six Point Brewing.  The Iowa beer groups seemed very excited by the arrival of the New York brewery, and after my first beer, I can see why.  Resin is a 9.1% ABV Double IPA, and it's deceptively smooth.  This is exactly what I look for an a Double IPA.  Big, sweet, not too bitter, but still a ton of hop flavor.  This is a brew that I will be drinking again.

Also fairly new to Iowa is Funkwerks.  Raspberry Provincial was a nice way to end my evening after a few IPA's.  Sweet and tart, this Berliner Wiesse beer is loaded with raspberries.  It reminded me of some of the Belgian style raspberry and cherry beers from New Glarus.  A perfect beer for a humid Iowa day.  This seems to be the theme of this entry, but again, I need to try more of their brews, because this one was delicious.

Another great beer weekend in Des Moines, and I didn't even get to some of my favorite places like Court Avenue Brewing or El Bait shop.  Of course, with 515's beer being so good, I'll be hard pressed not to spend my visits with them every time I visit the area.

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Thursday, September 3, 2015

Hops and Ska

 I can't believe it's that time of year to pick hops already.  I went out back to check on my plants to see how soon they'd be ready, and they were ready.  It was an odd growing season, and I wasn't expecting much, but to my surprise, they actually grew pretty well again this year.  Now, in years passed, I've picked anywhere from 5-7 pounds, and that wasn't the case this year, but I'm still pretty pleased with the 3 pounds that I ended up with.  Thanks to Tonya (my wife,) and Larry (my father in-law) for helping me pick this year.

This is my end result, 3 pounds bagged up, and into the freezer.  These will come out of the freezer shortly so I can brew an Imperial IPA with them and the other 3 pounds that's still frozen from last year.  I'm told that I will also have 3 pounds of honey and some white grape juice to add to it, so it will be an interesting beer to brew.  As long as I can keep it in the fermenting bucket and not on the floor, it should be good!
 My brother in-law Jared has been telling me to try this Woot Stout, another Stone Brewery collaboration.  He said, it may be his favorite beer of all time.  At $8.99 this 20oz bomber of 13% ABV goodness was a steal.  I can see why Jared likes it so much.  There is so much complexity in every sip.  Rich, thick, roasty and sweet all come into play with this very smooth full bodied stout.  This is a must have beer, and if I see it again, I may have to get another bottle or two
 The past few years, I've had an annual work trip to Kansas City for some Continuing Education classes.  I also meet up with an old friend of mine from my time in the Quad Cities.  This year was no different, except when we get ready to leave the bar after some food and a few beers, he mentions there is a band playing about a block away for free, called Reel Big Fish.

 I've been a fan of them since the mid nineties, and loved them the first time I saw them over 7 years ago.  So how could I pass up seeing Reel Big Fish again?  The answer, is I didn't.  They put on an amazing outdoor show in the rain.  This is the kind of music that makes you want to get up and dance, but since I don't/can't dance, I just bobbed my head enthusiastically and sang along to all of their songs.  As a former trombone player, it's always been a dream of mine to play a few songs on stage with them.  Being about 4 feet from the stage was good enough for me that night.  As luck would have it, we met Derek (bass guitar) and John (trumpet) a few bars later in the evening.  They were both extremely friendly, and as much as I wanted to talk music with them, after a few minutes, we left them alone so they could enjoy the rest of their evening.

So I know this is mainly a beer blog, but other than a few of Boulevard's Tank 7's, the downtown beer scene was pretty forgettable.  Seeing one of my favorite band of all times, now that was truly amazing!

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Friday, August 21, 2015

East Coast Meets Midwest

 Earlier this year, I had the incredible opportunity to get a private tour of Dogfish Head Brewery in Delaware by the Brewery Supervisor Dan.  It turns out, Dan is also a fellow Iowan, and recently returned to the Midwest for some family time.  Once again, I had the opportunity to spend a few hours with Dan, and we took a trip to Toppling Goliath in Decorah for a few beers.

 TG had another busy day at the brew house, but we were lucky enough to meet up with Brewmaster Mike and TG designer, Jon.  I showed incredible strength by not to having my phone out taking pictures of  two brewers from two of the best Craft breweries in the country, and the awesome beers we drank that day.  So, not shown from TG was naughty 90, Sosus, and Morning Latte.  To find out more about these beers, check out their website.  What I will say is, Naughty 90 was an incredibly well balanced IPA that was barrel aged to perfection, Sosus is a juice like Mosiac hop bomb that is a must have for every beer lover, while Morning Latte very easily could replace my morning coffee.  Thanks again to Dan, Mike, and Jon for taking some time to have a few beers with this beer geek.  I always enjoy learning more about the craft beer business, and getting to know these guys more.  Don't worry Jon, someday soon, my 20 year old Magic the Gathering decks will destroy yours, and show that I'm a geek about more than just beer!

In honor of Dan driving across country just to have a beer with me. Ok, maybe to see family and friends too, I had to prepare with two great brews from Dogfish Head.  Above, is Palo Santo Marron, and it may just be my favorite beer of all time.  Weighing in at 12% ABV, this wood aged Brown Ale is thick, rich, roasty, and just plain amazing.

In complete contrast, Festina Peche (shown to the left,) is a 4.5% ABV tart and refreshing Berliner Weisse that is perfect for the hot and humid Iowa summers.  If you can't get to the East Coast, do yourself a favor and find these brews in WI and IL, they are worth it.

This little treasure was picked out by my wife on our Delaware vacation, and I'm so glad she did.  This is a 10% ABV Imperial IPA brewed with honey, and dare I say, every bit as good or even better than Bell's Hopslam.  That may sound like blasphemy coming from the Midwest, but this beer is fantastic.  The other great thing about the beer is the label.  The character on the front looks like a cross between the former wrestler, the Ultimate Warrior, and the Cartoon Muscle Man from Regular Show.  If only we had room to bring back more!!
I mentioned this beer in an earlier entry, but it was so good, I thought it deserved a picture and a second mention.  Cane Blade is another Imperial IPA (anyone sensing a theme) that is thick, sweet, and has perfect balance.  It's extremely smooth, yet has a great malt/hop complexity that keeps me going back for more.  although, at over 8% ABV I may not be going back for more on the same night!
This Imperial IPA rivals some of the big boys, and is a must have.  As you're out shopping in Iowa this weekend, make sure you grab a 4 pack before they are all gone.

It's football time here in Eastern Iowa, and Joseph has begun his 2nd year in youth football.  These guys take their football seriously around here.  Windy, cold, and rainy, who cares?  They practice outside, and these 8-10 year olds are learning some very valuable lessons about hard work, dedication, and teamwork.  Football and Craft beer in Iowa, make me a very happy man.

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Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Heat Is On!

 After a long and stressful week at work, and with the arrival of hotter and humid weather, I chose a few good beers to relax and cool off with this weekend.  My first choice was Raygun IPA from Backpocket Brewery  This is a brewery I really need to tour, as I've heard from several people the brew house and taproom are beautiful.  Well guess what?  There beer is pretty good too.  I've been most impressed with my last two offerings from them.  Cane Blade (mentioned in the last entry) and this 7% ABV, Galaxy hopped Raygun IPA.  This is what I look for in an IPA.  Well balanced, great aroma, bitter, but not overpowering, and drinks like a 4% beer.  Cheers to Backpocket!  Featured in this picture in Jawbreaker from Skylanders.  Joseph insisted he was featured this entry!

I picked up this Clementine White Ale on my Spring trip to Delaware, and it seemed like to perfect time to enjoy this brew.  I was right!  This citrus, sweet, white wheat was just what I needed to cool off in the humid weather.  To be honest, I wasn't expecting much from this beer, but I was pleasantly surprised.  The citrus was perfectly balanced with the spices, wheat, and Belgian yeast.  This is an easy drinking White Ale that would be perfect on the beach, camping, or just relaxing in the back yard.  
Recently I've seen a few people on the beer boards that have made the trek to the West Coast, and would post all these beers that I've only read about before.  So when I came across Ballast Point's Grapefruit Sculpin at Family Beer and Liquor in East Dubuque, I had to try it. I'm glad I did.  This was an excellent,  well balanced IPA whose flavors and aroma married perfectly with the citrus of the grapefruit. They did a great job of keeping the grapefruit subtle so it blended perfectly with the citrus of the hops, and showing why this is an award winning IPA.
Next time you're in the East Dubuque area, stop into Family Beer and Liquor (the store with the best name) and check out the amazing Craft Beer selection that Tim has amassed for our enjoyment.

Other than making it easier to enjoy some great summer brews, the hot and humid weather has also helped the Jalapeno peppers grow.  I've received two bags of peppers from my brother in-law Jared, and today I put them to good use.  A quick and easy pickling recipe will keep these pickles fresh and delicious all year round.  If only we had a bigger fridge so I could do more!

I'm currently lining up a tour with what may be the Midwest's best brewery, and will post more about that as soon as the details are ironed out.  I also hope to be meeting up with Dan from Dogfish Head Brewery in a few weeks when he makes a trip back to Iowa, so hopefully we can share a few brews together.

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Thursday, July 23, 2015


Summer is in full swing.  So it's time for outside activities, which in our house is mostly going to the pool and playing outside with the dogs.  I haven't had time for fishing this year, but I did make time to go to the Blasen Family Golf Outing a few weeks back.  This is me and my brother in-law Marty enjoying the ride from my nephew Charlie.  Charlie (age 9) was a pretty good driver, and much safer than his older brother Jake (age 11.)  After two holes with Jake driving, I took the wheel to finish up the coarse.  I had a great day with my dad, Marty, and the boys, and was able to catch up with some family I haven't spent much time with lately.  I also enjoyed a Founder's All Day IPA, and a few Blue Moons in the golf cart.  I would've have more of the Founder's, but Casey hogged it all.  Next year, I'll know better get there early!!
What's the best thing to do on the hottest weekend of the year.  Of course the answer is go camping!!  Last weekend we met up with Chad and Annie for a sweaty weekend outdoors (with the occasional trip inside their camper to cool off.)  We enjoyed a few brews by the fire (you know, because it wasn't  hot enough so we really needed to make a fire.)  The stand out brew for me was Cane Blade from Backpocket Brewing.  It's a deceptively smooth double IPA that was very delicious.  I've heard from a reliable source, they will have a new wheat beer and a Quad coming out in the near future.  I was also able to pick up a bottle of their new Raygun IPA on the way home.  I just hope it's as good as the Cane Blade.
Camping at Lake Red Rock, we were only 14 miles away from Knoxville, so it would've been a shame if we didn't check out Peace Tree Brewing.  Luckily for us, the heat gave us a great excuse to go into town, and sit in the air conditioned taproom for a bit.  Pictured to the left is No Coast IPA.  This 7.25% American IPA was just what I needed to cool down.  A mixture of pine and citrus from the hops in the well balanced brew, that was just bitter enough to make it interesting, yet still easily drinkable.

The other beer I had was their Templeton Sidekick, a 6% ABV Kolsch aged in Templeton Rye barrels.  Kolsch is near the bottom of the list of beers I would normally order, but I am a sucker for Templeton Rye Whiskey.  I actually really enjoyed this beer, and you won't hear me say this a lot, but it would've been even better if there was less whiskey flavor to it.  I think maybe mixing the barrel aged beer with the unaged Kolsch, would've made this an even more enjoyable beer.

I also took home a growler of Hop Wrangler, a 6.25% ABV, Belgo-American IPA.  This is the beer that really made me take notice of what Peace Tree was doing years ago.  I have to say, my will power is pretty amazing, as it's still in my fridge.  Come on Friday night!!
After ditching us guys for some ice cream our families met us back and the tap room, and Joseph was able to enjoy his first brewery made rootbeer.  (His hair is getting so long, it went into the rootbeer before he even had a chance to taste it!)  A few minutes later, his uncle Chad made him laugh so hard, he ended up with rootber all over his face.

I was very impressed with the tap room.  They refinished an old industrial building and turned it into a beautiful gathering place.  I would also like to point out, that their service was top notch.  If you're in the Knoxville area, I would highly recommend stopping by for a few beers.  Overall, we had a nice afternoon at the taproom, and after going back out into the heat, we probably should have stayed there longer.
Arson and Toby playing tug-o-war when we got home (and it cooled down!)

I know, I know, I said I'd review Toppling Goliath's collaboration with Mikkeller.  I didn't forget, here's Nelson Schmelsson shown to the right, along with the new bottle caps from TG.  Wow!  That's it, just wow!  I thought this beer was absolutely amazing!  The powerful hop aroma hits you as soon as you open the bottle, and gets even better as you pour it.  Dank.  Dank is thrown about a lot in beer boards lately, and it really fits this brew.  Dank to me is just another was of saying hoppy goodness.  This beer has plenty of that, and a solid, malty body to go with it.  To be honest, this is one of the best beers I've had all year.  Congrats to Clark, Mike, and the rest of the Hop Patrol at TG, and the guys at Mikkeller for making such a fantastic Double IPA!
Word on Twitter is that TG will be releasing their Morning Delight in the near future.  This has been another of those elusive TG beers I haven't had yet, but will do my best to get a hold of this year, and of course, write about.  I also hope to have more from TG coming up, so keep checking back.

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Friday, July 10, 2015

I know you're all surprised that I'm starting this entry off with yet another Toppling Goliath beer.  This time I went for the Mosiac hop bomb Pompeii.  It's exactly what I've come to expect in an IPA from TG.  Loads of amazing aroma, good malt body, and loads more of hop flavor with not too much bitterness.  They always do a great job of balancing their IPA's just right so they're incredibly hoppy without being overly bitter.  Another great example of a Midwest IPA.
I've been saving this bottle for over 6 months to split with my brother in-law.  So, when he came over on Father's Day (to bring me the bottle of Pompeii,) I had to open it up.  This has to be one other the better Barley Wines I've ever had.  Another perfectly balanced beer with the thick, sweet malt, and citrus, hoppy bitterness.  Now I wish I would've grabbed a few more bottles when it came out!

You may also notice my son's new Skylander toy holding my Father's Day gift, a new beer bottle opener/magnet.
Lagunitas Sucks!  Great name and even better beer.  This is by far my favorite offering from Lagunitas that I've had so far.  They make very solid IPA's, but most are just a bit too bitter for my taste.  This one I found not quite so bitter, with a ton of citrus hop aroma and flavor that makes it a pretty damn good brew.
I haven't had a lot of Mikkeller beer in the past, what I had was always good, but not blow me away good.  To be honest, their high price tag is usually enough to keep me from trying more.  I found this IPA, Better Half, while I was on vacation, and decided to give it a try.  I was very pleased.  It is a solid IPA, with great aroma and flavor, but again, just a bit too bitter on the back end for me.  But still, if it was a bit cheaper, I would have no problem buying a 6 or 12 pack of these for camping.  They also recently brewed a Double IPA with Toppling Goliath called Nelson Schmelson, which will be in my next entry.  I've heard mixed reviews of it, but I'm very excited to try it.
One of my favorite breweries, Single Speed out of Cedar Falls, got together with another good Iowa brewery from Iowa City, Backpocket.  They brewed this magnificent Golden Bock.  This is not a style I would normally buy, but I decided to support my local breweries, and was rewarded for it.  Huge, thick, malty body, with loads of hoppy goodness.  For less than $5, this 7% ABV treasure is an absolute steal.

I'm about 2 weeks out from my last spinal steroid injection, and yet again, no super powers.  Oh well, at least I'm starting to get relief from the back pain again.  Who knows, maybe next time.  Tomorrow is my family's annual golf outing, I'll be riding along in the golf cart enjoying a few brews instead of golfing, so we'll see what makes it into the next entry.  I also hope to be doing a brewery tour or two soon.

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Don't forget: Life's too short to drink bad beer!

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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