Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Dogfish Head Weekend of Compelling Ales and Whatnot Pt. 2

Sam - talking about the old days
So, back to those “special tour tickets” I mentioned in my previous post. The Mrs. and I showed up at the Dogfish Head Brewery a little before 10:00 for our 10:30 tour. And going in the door just in front of us was none other than Sam Calagione (Dogfish Head President and Founder)! A few minutes later as we were gathered and getting protective glasses for our tour, it is announced that Sam is our tour guide.

We’d been on the standard DFH brewery tour a few months ago and were bummed to only see a small fraction of the facility. That was not the case this time, we spent an hour and a half with Sam leading us through the facility and talking (quite frankly at times) about the start of the operation, up through the filming of Brew Masters, and plans for the future of the brewery.

so much beer...
Sam discussed the recent decision by Dogfish to pull out of some markets in order to get more beer into some of their closer territories. He touched briefly on the experience of filming Brew Masters but did not address the angle pushed by Anthony Bourdain that Discovery nixed Brew Masters because of threats from “corporate beer.”

Growler of Black & Red
Sam also re-stated the old, "we don't want to be the 60 Minute or Shelter Brewery. We want to be known for all of our beers." And while I'm not a huge fan of some of the Ancient Ales, I think it's great that they are trying new things. I was super excited to hear Sam talk more about Hellhound on My Ale - the beer they are doing with Sony Legacy for the 100th anniversary of the birth of Robert Johnson. I don't want to scoop them on the details, so I'll hold off on details. I will say that the beer is bottled and ready for an "early May release." And I can't wait to try it...

Sam showing off the "Dr. Octagon" hydraulic keg lifter
Most exciting for me, Sam announced that they will be expanding the Rehoboth Beach Brew Pub next year, adding open fermenters, and moving the distillery to an offsite location. It sounds as though they will be using the open fermenters to do more sours and Begian-style beers. He added that they will be adding a new bottling line that will focus entirely on large format (750 ml) bottles. This will save them from having to convert the line when they switch from 12 oz. to 750 ml bottles (a process which stops the line for 3-4 hours). Thanks to the new line, we should start to see more beers in large format.

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