BrewingTV visits Dogfish Head Brewing

I am completely jealous. Northern Brewer‘s BrewingTV got a great tour of Dogfish Head Brewing in Milton, Delaware and their brewpub in Rehoboth Beach.

Last summer, my wife and I toured Dogfish Head Brewing on September 1 (note: you need to make reservations in advance). Dogfish’s motto is “Off-centered beers for off-centered people.”We had a great time and enjoyed conversing with the employees and our fellow tour-groupers. After the tour, we tasted 90 Minute IPA, Indian Brown Ale, Punkin’ Ale, and Midas Touch; and then went to lunch at their brewpub and tasted their Lawnmower, Shelter Pale Ale, 60 Minute IPACask-aged 75 Minute IPA, and Midas Touch.

I’m not head-over-heels in love with Dogfish’s beers; I prefer our west coast style ales. I must be more centered than I knew.

For the hops junkies out there: Randall the Enamel Animal, Jr

You say you just can’t get enough hops (or other spices) in your beer? You say that if the International Bittering Units aren’t off the scale the beer is not worth drinking. Then you need to search no further because the folks at Dogfish Head Craft Brewery have an answer for you. It used to be that you would have to have your own full-sized Randall the Enamel Animal, but now through the miracle of science (or marketing…one of those anyway)for only $19.99 (it sounds so much less than $20, doesn’t it) plus shipping you can get your own Randall the Enamel Animal Jr.

Here is what the folks at Dogfish Head have to say about Jr:

So you’ve tried to acquire the Randall 3.0 and it’s either out of stock or out of your price range, right? Well, we heard you and here’s the answer! The same concept in a much more convenient size and price tag. The Randall Jr. allows you to infuse your favorite brew with just about whatever ingredients you can think up. Midas Touch with lime and mint? Yes please! World Wide Stout with espresso beans? You betcha! Just place the ingredients in the Randall Jr. and pour the beer right over them. Place in a cold climate such as the fridge for 10 minutes or so and you’ve got an amazing concoction on your hands! Share with a friend…or not…we’re not judging.

It also makes a terrific stocking stuffer for the beer drinker in your life.

Taking a beer with off flavors to 1st place at Battle of the Brews

Oh Well, What the Hell a couple of weeks following bottle conditioning.

As you may recall (well probably not), on December 28 I brewed a beer that was supposed to be a Laurel India Pale Ale. Since the pre-boil specific gravity came in way too low for an India Pale Ale, I decided to make it a Pale Ale. Simple Pale Ales are not simple to make. There is no place to hide any imperfections. And, after 10 days in the fermenter, I tasted slight soapy and buttery flavors in the new beer. According to John Palmer’s “How to Brew” website, a soapy flavor can result from the breakdown of the fatty acids that are in the trub at the bottom of your fermenter. Butter flavors can result from diacetyl. To some extent a buttery flavor might not be bad. But it can also indicate that your yeast did not start on time.

It has 5.5% ABV and and calculates out to 43 IBU.

Given these imperfections, would we bottle or would we throw the whole batch down the drain?

Well, we here out Flog This Dead (Mule) Brewery looked at our flavor profiles and realized we have no flavor profiles. We wondered if our degrees Plato were met, and we had no idea what that meant. Finally, we checked our standards, and realized we had none, well, maybe not none, but extremely low.

So, since we have incredibly low standards (after all, we answer to no one but ourselves) we went ahead and bottled, and hoping to mask the dish soap flavor, we used honey for the bottle conditioning fermentation.

Now, with only moments to go before we have to serve this beer–which we have renamed after some dead guy and claimed that it’s based on a 1200 year-old recipe involving wild honey and monk sweat–at the homebrewers portion of the semi-prestigious Battle of the Brews beer event. Let’s hope the honey will fool people into thinking the stuff tastes okay.

[Norm smiles and opens doors while carrying boxes filled with bottles of beer named after some dead guy and claiming that it’s based on a 1200 year-old recipe]

The Oh Well, What the Hell Pale Ale garnered 36 points at the Battle of the Brews in Santa Rosa, 2nd place had 35 points, and 3rd had 33.5 points. Woo hoo!

Success! Oh Well took 1st place in the homebrewers tasting competition in BJCP #10A American Pale Ale category.

The saga of the “Oh Well, What the Hell” Pale Ale. Off Flavors.

If  you have ever watched an episode of Brew Masters  on the Discovery Channel,  you will have seen Sam Calagione  wrestle with whether they should dump a batch of beer that didn’t quite meet their standards. Unlike me, the folks at Dogfish Head Brewing have standards. They have flavor profiles. They have degrees of Plato (a system of specific gravity). They have all the benchmarks of their beers charted. They have to be consistent.

I, on the other hand, am just trying to make something that tastes pretty good. On December 28 I brewed a beer that was supposed to be a Laurel India Pale Ale. Since the specific gravity came in too low for an India Pale Ale, I decided to try to make simply a Pale Ale. Simple Pale Ales are not simple to make. There is no place to hide any imperfections.

Though it is only been 10 days, which shouldn’t be too long, I can detect slight soapy and buttery tastes. According to John Palmer’s “How to Brew” website, a soapy flavor can result from the breakdown of the fatty acids that are in the trub at the bottom of your fermenter. Butter flavors can result from diacetyl. To some extent a buttery flavor might not be bad. But it can also indicate that your yeast did not start on time.

So, to bottle or not to bottle or not to bottle. That is the question.

English: PACIFIC OCEAN (Oct. 5, 2011) Aviation...

To bottle or not to bottle or not to bottle. That is the question.(Image via Wikipedia)

Pilsner’s Progress: Postcards from Dogfish Head Brewing

Pilsner’s Progress is obviously a play on The Pilgrim’s Progress from This World to That Which Is to Come. Other than being cute, there’s no resemblance (well, it was a pilgrimage of sorts, though not by a pilsner).

Dogfish Head Brewing headquarters, Milton, Delaware

My wife and I toured Dogfish Head Brewing in Milton, Delaware on September 1 (note: you need to make reservations in advance). We had a great time and enjoyed conversing with the employees and our fellow tour-groupers. Once you go from the gift shop/tasting room into the brewing area, you go from Heavy Metal to heavy machinery. The scale of everything is magnitudes higher than my 5-gallon homebrewing. If it can be automated, has been automated. The stainless tubes that go from here to there seem to go to ‘infinity and beyond.’ After the tour, we tasted 90 Minute IPA, Indian Brown Ale, Punkin’ Ale, and Midas Touch.

The steampunk-themed ‘treehouse’ is constructed of iron and wood and had been at the 2007 Burning Man Festival before Sam Calagione bought it and brought it to Delaware.

After the tour and tasting, we went to their brewpub in Rehoboth Beach. You will see in the slideshow the sampler we shared: Lawnmower, Shelter Pale Ale, 60 Minute IPA, Cask-aged 75 Minute IPA, and Midas Touch.

None of Dogfish’s lineup that I tasted lit my wick. I admire their methods and philosophy, but their brews follow (lead?) the mold of east coast malt-forward ales. I like hop-forward brews of the west coast. On the east coast, I much prefer the Flying Dog brews such as Classic Pale Ale, Snakedog IPA and Raging Bitch.

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Have you been on the Dogfish Head brewery tour? What do you think of their lineup?