Friday, December 3, 2010

Black Saturday at Dogfish Head Brewery

I was in Fenwick, DE for Thanksgiving. And while I still didn’t achieve my goal of a turkey-free Thanksgiving (I’m thinking pork bbq or lobster as the centerpiece) I did finally make it to the Dogfish Head Brewery in Milton, DE. We did the tour and tasting last Saturday, and it was everything I ever dreamed it could be.

The tour is good, but didn’t blow my mind. You don’t venture into the bottling and kegging room and that was of more interest to me. You do see the giant oak and palo santo barrels where the wood-aged beers spend a little extra time. If you are a beer novice and/or never did any home brewing the content of the tour will keep your attention. If you know your stuff, you’ll get to be teachers pet and answer all of the tour guides questions…

Seeing as the day before was black Friday, the taps were full of the deepest darkest brews Dogfish makes. I started out as a dark beer fan but over the years made the transition to hop head. However, tasting the dark beers reminded me why I liked them in the first place.

Chicory Stout - I think Chicory Stout might have been the first Dogfish beer I ever bought, and tasting it again reminded me why I liked it in the first place. It's rich and roasty with a nice coffee-like bitterness.

Bitches Brew - I know the Bitches Brew is all the rage right now, but it did nothing for me. I can’t put my finger on it, but there is something odd (grassy?) in the flavor. Then again, I’m not a huge fan of the Bitches Brew album either – I much prefer the Mahavishnu Orchestra stuff that some of the players went on to do…

Palo Santo Maron - I had never tried the Palo Santo Maron before. At 12% ABV, it’s a serious beer. It’s not as dark as the stout but richer and sweeter with caramel and vanilla flavors. I could see it pairing well with a steak, but the crazy in me wants to pour it over vanilla ice cream or at least make a chocolate sauce out of it.

World Wide Stout - And now for the World Wide Stout. CRAZY! This beer is 18% ABV. I’ve never had a beer that tastes so smooth and sweet before. It reminds me of my home brewing days when I exploded my primary fermenter making an imperial stout that landed at 14% ABV. But instead of being cloyingly sweet and kind of astringent, the WWS is rich like a ruby port.

And then there’s the store - it’s mecca for a Dogfish Fan. If Dogfish has done anything (aside from making killer beer) they have marketed themselves well. The store has at least 20 different t-shirts, beer soap, dog collars, beer glasses, beer signs, Patagonia jackets, etc. And most importantly, they have just about every Dogfish beer currently available in bottles. We stocked up on Burton Baton, 90-Minute IPA, Palo Santo Maron, and Chicory Stout. Oh, the beer shampoo is pretty kick-ass…

Last night I made chili with the Chicory Stout – I’ll post the recipe in the coming days.