Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Beaches and Brews in Delaware

A lot has been said, written and televised about Delaware’s Dogfish Head craft brews. Known for the unique names and labels they slap on their beers, and for the dorky founder and president Sam Calagione, Dogfish Head is one of the first craft breweries I fell for. Their year-round bottlings offer consistent quality at reasonable prices, and their seasonal offerings are always exciting. 

Their flagship brewpub in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, is something of a Mecca for East Coast beer fans, and rightly so, what with their dozen-plus beers on tap and well-priced and delicious pub food. Over Memorial Day me and a good buddy of mine headed east from DC for a weekend of beach and surf. After a full Sunday of shore-pound waves and perfect sunny weather, we decided to hit up Dogfish Head brew pub for some well-deserved beer and food. 

I tasted more than a few beers over the course of the weekend, but here are some notes on a few that impressed me.

Pearl Jam Faithfull Ale

I just had to pick up a bomber of this for my buddy, who is insane about Pearl Jam and Dogfish Head beer. "It's like my two favorite things rolled into one," he said. We knocked it back after a long day of sun and waves at Indian River Inlet. There is nothing like a craft brew after a day at the beach.

The Dogfish Head website describes the beer like so: "Faithfull Ale is a celebration of Pearl Jam's 20th anniversary as a band and its extraordinary debut album, Ten. In recognition of these milestones, this Belgian-style golden ale is delicately hopped to 20 IBUs and fruit-forward from 10 incremental additions of black currants over a one-hour boil."

I really liked how this beer's pleasantly hopped taste is accented with faint hints of currant and cranberry. It goes down way too easily, but at 7% alcohol, it won't knock you out like some other DFH brews.

Faithfull Ale is one of several bottles in the "Music Series," following the Miles Davis-inspired Bitches Brew and a beer tribute to Robert Johnson, Hellhound On My Ale.

Red & White

Like anything Dogfish Head puts out, this beer is made with some interesting ingredients. Red & White is a Belgian-style witbier brewed with coriander and orange peel and fermented with pinot noir juice. A fraction of the batch is then aged in a 10,000-gallon oak tank. The result is a fizzy, delicious, beer-wine that would wow wine and beer lovers alike.

It’s a pretty strawberry-apricot color with a light head. It smells both hoppy and sweet. The palate is a burst of hops, fruit and oak flavors. It’s got great bite and bitterness, but that’s balanced by the creamy mouthfeel. Overall, this provides a beer-drinking experience like few others. Maybe it's the pinot noir lover in me, but this is the best beer I've tasted from Dogfish Head. Complex and thought-provoking, but still  straight-up delicious. 

At $13 for a bomber, this is a solid deal as well.


This beer is the color of Starbuck's coffee. And it tastes like coffee mixed with cherries mixed with English breakfast tea mixed with baking spices. There's a really toasty flavor to this wine that lingers on the finish. Despite the alcohol content (8%) and its bold flavors the beer isn't heavy or weighed down. It maintains a freshness throughout.

Somehow, this beer incorporates the following bizarre ingredients: wattleseed from Australia, toasted amaranth from South America, rooibos tea from Africa, myrica gale from Europe and honey from the United States. Its name, Urkontinent, explains Dogfish Head, "is a German word for the theory that all of the continents were once connected, is a shoutout to the worldly recipe and ideas that make up this beer."

A worldwide medley of ingredients come together in the glass and make for one hell of a delicious dark beer. This is my second favorite Dogfish Head beer of all time, just behind the Red & White.

Any other Dogfish Head fans out there?

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