After pouring beer for one of the big corporate breweries at a swanky fundraiser and slapping bands on more wrists than I care to remember, I was finally rewarded at a recent volunteer gig, pouring for Dogfish Head Brewery. Founded in 1995 in Delaware by Sam Calagione, this brewery’s motto is “Off-centered ales for off-centered people,” words to certainly drink by.
Arriving at the Empire Brewfest on a hot, muggy July day, I was ready to feed the masses some hoppy goodness. Three volunteers were summoned to the Dogfish table: one to crack open the bottles on demand, and two to serve with smiles. I met Elizabeth, the Dogfish rep, who explained what we were serving and was just there to help out if needed. While I was familiar with the 90 Minute IPA, I had to quickly learn about the other selections, some semi-traditional and others amazingly outrageous. Elizabeth has been with Dogfish from the beginning, and she gave us the rundown (along with my ad-libs):
90 Minute IPA: If you haven’t heard of this, then I’m not sure where you live, but I can assure you it’s worth whatever travel or investigating you have to do. Esquire Magazine says that it’s “perhaps the best I.P.A. in America.” I won’t argue there.
Raison D’Etre: It’s a complex mahogany ale brewed with green raisins, beet sugar and Belgian yeast. 7.2% ABV, so watch out as you drink this smooth one.
Indian Brown Ale: An interesting hybrid of sorts – imagine if you can a Scotch Ale, an I.P.A. and an American brown. This brew is hoppy, malty and brewed with Aromatic barley and caramelized brown sugar. Can you imagine it? Now imagine drinking it!
Midas Touch: Whoa. Disclaimer: This 9% ABV will go down so smoothly you won’t know what hit you. I didn’t. Be warned! One of the most interesting libations of the bunch, it’s “somewhere between beer, wine & mead.” This ale comes from an ancient Turkish recipe that uses original ingredients from 2,700-year-old drinking vessels! These vessels were discovered in the tomb of King Midas himself – how Dogfish Head scored this recipe and vessels I have no idea, but it’s a glory to drink.
Festina Peche: Dogfish’s Summer Seasonal Release. This is a great, light Neo-Berliner Weisse fermented with peaches. Try it and tell me what you think. Better yet, if you were there and I poured for you, comment your thoughts of the beers I served you.
Sah’Tea: Limited edition version of a 9th century Finnish proto-beer. The first sip is intense and complex, made with rye, juniper berries, cloves, and other spices; you won’t be able to stop. Check out the video on this one.
Squall IPA: Another Dogfish Limited edition. Unfiltered, 100% bottle conditioned imperial IPA. This one is not for the faint of heart and packs a true punch. It’s worth the hit.
And there you have it. While this was just a few of Dogfish’s offerings, it was enough for anyone not familiar with the brand to become an instant fan. So if you can’t make it to the brewery in Delaware, go to the store, pick up a six-pack, and watch a movie tonight. I recommend “Beer Wars.”