Dogfish takes up a lot of real estate in our fridge. So it’s kind of pitiful that Patrick and I have tried to visit Dogfish Head Brewery in Milton, Del., on three different occasions… and failed. Various reasons for our failure have included sickness, other more important events and an aggressive desire to sleep for a ridiculous number of hours.
This past Saturday, however, we decided not to be lazy a-holes, which was a small miracle unto itself because, before we left, we watched the season two premiere of House of Cards — and OMG, stuff happened. I could have easily sat there all day in pajamas — without showering or eating actual food — and watched the all thirteen episodes in one sitting.
(Full disclosure: I absolutely stayed up until a stupid hour later in the weekend watching the entire thing. Because I have zero self control.)
Instead, we got dressed and drove close to two hours in pretty heavy snowfall — including a brief Taco Bell stop — to Delaware.
When we arrived, we were taken aback by the sheer scale of the Dogfish facility which includes its own industrial tree house. We knew Dogfish was kind of a big deal, but it was the first time we had visited a brewery of that size.
Upon entering, a nice gal gave us tasting sheets, where visitors choose four beers to taste for free. (Woohoo!) I chose:
It took a bit of strategic wandering and a few laps, but we were able to stake out a couple of spots at the wraparound bar. And in spite of the crowds, we had a lot of fun swapping beers between each other and trying new stuff, along with some old favorites.
In The New Yorker’s 2008 profile of Sam Calagione and Dogfish Head itself, Garrett Oliver said: “Sam is a wonderful showman. He almost conceives the beer around the story. He’ll think: Wouldn’t it be cool if we carried the beer down the street and everyone put something new into it!”
You can see the showmanship Oliver mentioned in everything Dogfish produces — from their unique and eclectic label artwork to what’s inside the actual bottle. My inner marketer loves how Dogfish lives up to their “Off-Centered Ales for Off-Centered People,” mantra in such an authentic, earnest way.
Granted there are a few of their brews that leave me saying, “Well, that was an… interesting beer science project.” But overall, their catalog is littered with amazing beers that I (and many others I know) seek out on a regular basis.
Actually, my love for the Palo Santo Marron and the Burton Baton goes beyond “seeking out on a regular basis.” I would club a flock of sandwiches for those two. Violently.
[Note: Patrick is now joining me in my downward spiral of IPA and Imperial IPA obsession. He loved the Burton Baton, too.]
Anyway, after our tasting, we went for some beer-infused food. I had the bratwurst — pork sausage made with soon-to-be-replaced Raison D’Etre — and we shared a side of their hop pickles. I also took the menu’s advice to pair my meal with the 90 Minute IPA on draft. I’m not going to go into too much detail here, because I don’t want you to feel bad about that Lean Cuisine you had for lunch today. But I will say the tastiness-level of everything was ridiculous.
Sadly, our afternoon dwindled away much too quickly, and soon it was time to go. But of course, we couldn’t leave without doing a bit of shopping — a hat for when I don’t feel like brushing my hair, some dog treats, new glassware, etc. When we were checking out, we initially congratulated ourselves for doing a such good job in keeping our tab down. (“Only $50?! Hooray!”) Then we realized she had forgotten to ring up our beer. (“Oh. Damn.”)
Overall, our field trip to Dogfish was awesome. We had a great time drinking amazing beer, shouting out the names of presidents, reuniting with Alise, eating good food, playing with puppies in the tasting room and uh, drinking more amazing beer.
Unfortunately we opted not to take the tour this time, so I guess that means we’ll have to go back and visit again.
How AWFUL for us, right?
This weekend at the brewery, I was lucky enough to receive a surprise visit from the lovely and hilarious Liz Murphy of Naptown Pint. If you’re a beer lover in the DE/MD/DC/VA region, I can’t recommend her blog enough. So wonderful to see you again, Liz!