Thursday, May 20, 2010

My Weekend at Dogfish Head Crafted Brewed Ales

I recently had to spend 10 very long days in the DC area and was going to have to spend the weekend staring at the four walls of a hotel...yeah right! Rehoboth was just a mere 3 hour drive away, how could I not go and check out Dogfish Head Craft Brewed Ales. The week prior I book a room a 1/2 block from the Brewpub in Rehoboth . Dan suggest I take the tour in Milton where their brewery is located and I was lucky enough to grab the last ticket for the 2pm tour. Needless to say I was pretty stoked about my little adventure that I was about to embark on just seven days away.
left DC at about 8am on Saturday to make sure that I would not be late, A)due to the insane traffic in DC B)there was a NASCAR race in Dover, DE that weekend and C)possible beach traffic. I take the drive over the Bay Bridge and suddenly realize that this portion of Maryland and Delaware might be more flat than Western Kansas. I get to Milton at about 12pm. I drive around the town which took all of about 5 mins, find the brewery, and decide to grab myself a little lunch in town to kill some time before my tour of the brewery.

I pull in and the thing you notice first is how new everything around the brewery looks compared to the rest of Milton.I go into the breweries tap room and shop around until the tour starts. Trust me there is a lot to look at! The tour starts and the tour guide tells us the that "the quicker the tour, the quicker we get to the samples", so away we go. We first stop at the original brew kit that the founder Sam Calagione began with at the brewpub in Rehoboth. This kit is basically a 10 gallon homebrew kit that was dropped off the back of a truck. We next go over to the Grain Mill where they crack the base malts. we go into the room where they have a few stainless steel 400 barrel holding tanks and 3, yes 3 10,000 gallon wood holding tanks. Two were made of Oak and one was as the tour guide described as being made with a "exotic Paraguayan Palo Santo wood". They had a sample of this wood and couldn't believe how dense this wood was and that it is a wood that does not float! That tank was used to make their Palo Santo Marron. After about 30 minutes we were back in the tasting room where we got to try 60 Minute IPA, Palo Santo Marron, Wrath of Pecant and Rasion D'Etre. The 3 people at the tasting room were all extremely nice and knowledgeable. You could tell they loved working there. (I know, duh!) Off to the Brewpub!

I take the half hour drive over to Rehoboth where all this Dogfish Head, off-centered ale craziness started. I check in to the motel and take my 5 minute walk to the brewpub where I immediately see that this place is packed. I luck out and grab the last seat available at the end of the bar, where I spend the next 6 hours of my night. The dude next to me is asking the bartender for a taster of the Festina Peche. She hands it to him and he then looks over at me and says "here try this" and asks for another one. I tell him thanks and we proceed to taste our sample. Lets just say it wasn't either one of our cup of beers but hey, we HAD to try it. This guy (I wish I got his name) was a very cool guy and him and his wife had just recently moved to the Rehoboth area. He was kind of enough to introduce me to Matt, the Assistant Manager at the Brewpub. I tell him where I'm from and how I ended up here. We talked about Beer Trip and how DFH is on our list of "Must Sees" next summer. Luckily Matt tells me about their brewpub only beers which was why I was there. I hadn't seen the small list where the pub only beers were located.I had already had a Aprihop, which I really like, a Indian Brown Ale and a Life & Limb, which was a great beer in my opinion. I wish I could of found a 12ver of the Life & Limb, oh well I'm just glad I got to try it. Anyway, up next was Billy Budd! Billy Budd is a brew pub exclusive that is created by combining their Indian Brown, Palo Santo Marron, and the 120 Minute IPA. Let's just say Billy Budd was a bad ass at 14%. After Billy, I was starting to "feel it' a bit. Since I'm "feeling it" I just got 3oz sample of the Immort Ale, Burton Baton, and the Olde School Barleywine. All of these beers are 10% and above so needless to say that 9 ounces of beer was enough to do some more work on me. It's now about 10p and the band is starting up. Da Rezarekt out of Philly started playing and got the crowd amped up with their full blown funk-a-licous vibe. I had one more a 60 min and decided to head back to the motel. I had a wonderful 6 hour experience while I was at the Brewpub, the bartender, the wait staff and even the dude busting his ass filling the glass rack was a very cool kid. Best part, I wasn't done!

I wake up at the a the ridiculous hour of 5:15am. My thought behind this was I'm 2 blocks away from the beach, I should catch a sunrise while I'm out here on da East coast. I look out the window and what do I see? Clouds! No freaking way! I decide I'm up and it might do me some good to go for a little walk. I go down to the beach and stroll down it a little bit then walk up the main drag on my was back to my room. I have to say I'm quite impressed with the amount of what appears to be "mom and pop" type shops instead of a bunch of nauseating chains stores. Also saw a very confused deer window shopping. Luckily it was just me, the deer, and about 6 other older folks out doing their "mall" walking the right way outside on the boardwalk. The deer did find the beach and decided to take a jog, and I decided I needed to get ready for my breakfast!

Dogfish Head was nice enough to schedule their very first brunch on the Sunday that I was going to be there. How could I not go in and have a glass of their World famous World Wide Stout and some breakfast?!? Well I couldn't! The doors were to open at 9a so of course I got there at about 8:30a. I didn't know if this was going to be a huge event or not and I was not going to be denied. I go in and there was Matt. Matt being the nice guy he is walks me over to my seat at the bar and what do I see? RANDALL!!! Well Matt was kind enough to show me how Randall works. Well, if you don't know, Randall is, for lack of a better word, a contraption that to me, adds extra flavors to a beer. Matt tells me that usually Randall the Enameled Animal is stuffed full of hops and has DFH's 90min IPA ran over those hops to put a little extra hoppyness to it. Today, Randall was full of coffee beans and World Wide Stout was ran over those beans. Well, I had to have one, and from what I saw, it was the first one of the day! (from a paying customer anyway) I sat next to Randall at the bar and every time it was used I was simply mesmerized while he did his thing to the WWS. The taste of the Randallized WWS was unreal. The coffee just enhanced the already wonderful tasting WWS. I could tell after just one sip that I needed some food! I got down with some Biscuits and Gravy to help me out. Later, I couldn't resist ordering up some French Toast loaded with some Immort Ale apples. It was a great decision.

Now during all this I intentionally didn't mention that after I had been there about a half hour Sam Calagione walked in with his family. As I mentioned before Sam is DFH's founder, and has a reputation as being one of the best people in the Craft Brew world. I had zero intention of talking with him because he was with his family and I know that he is extremely busy opening a new place in NY and travels quite a bit so any family time he gets I could only assume would be time he relishes, as would I. It was finally time for me to remove myself from this brewpub after spending roughly 8 hours over the past 18 of my life. I go over to Matt and thank him for his time and hospitality he showed me while I was there. I truly appreciated the kindness he showed me. He asked me if I had seen Sam walk in and I said yeah, if he wasn't with the fam I'd say hello but I felt weird with his fam there. Matt assured me he wouldn't mind nor would the family. I still felt weird about saying anything to him. Well, as I was leaving, I still wasn't going to stop and say anything but at the extreme last second, I pull the trigger and decide to say hello. Before I could even say anything his hand was extended and he's asking me my name. We talk about a documentary called American Beer that was Dan's inspiration for Beer Trip, and how DFH is our main focus of BT VII next summer. We talk for about 10 minutes or so and let's just say he was as cool and nice as anybody could of been. Two things here, 1) I'm 100% sure Sam's rep will always be very well intact as being a great craft beer ambassador 2) Beer people rule.

I had a great time with, fantastic food, phenomenal people, wonderful weather, and of course killer craft beer!

It's Craft Beer Week! Go enjoy a craft beer!!

Andy

PS Click on the pics and they'll magically get bigger!