Tag Archives: Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

Tips on How to Age Beer, from Dogfish Head

Cantillon Bottles Aging

Bottles of beer aging at the Cantillon brewery in Brussels, Belgium

Last summer, Dogfish Head Craft Brewery posted an informative story with five tips on how to age beer. At the time, I glanced over it quickly, but I honestly wasn’t really thinking too much about aging brews at that point. Since then, I’ve built up my beer “cellar,” which is really just a big-ass cabinet built into the wall in my apartment, and I’ve spend quite a bit of time identifying and amassing beers that should age well.

Here’s a quick breakdown of Dogfish Head’s tips on how to age beer:

  1. A little experimentation goes a long way
  2. Don’t underestimate fresh
  3. High-alcohol beers tend to age better
  4. Storage matters
  5. Beer won’t spoil

After doing a lot of experimenting of my own, the first two steps really stand out to me. I’ve learned that the best way to really see and taste the difference between aged beer and “young” beer is to collect different “vintages” of each of them, and then do side-by-side taste tests. For example, I have bottles of this year’s Dogfish Worldwide Stout and 120 Minute IPA, both of which have very high ABVs, and both of which are particularly well suited for aging. I don’t plan on drinking either of them until I can get 2013 versions of each beer, at least, and probably not until I collect 2014 bottles, too. I’ve had Worldwide Stout and 120 Minute IPA numerous times in the past, but never along with different vintages, and it’s hard to remember their complex subtleties.

I’ve also learned that as a general rule of thumb, hoppy beers and beers made with fruit tend to taste better fresh and probably don’t make the best candidates for aging. There are some exceptions, of course—120 Minute IPA is intensely hoppy and some Belgian beers made with cherries or other berries can age well over a number of years. Many people think IPAs age well, because they were originally sent by the British Army to soldiers in India and were thought to age better than normal pale ales. But that was due to the increase in ABV, and I’d bet those IPAs didn’t exactly taste fresh after their long voyages.

Read more specifics from Dogfish Head’s Quality Control Manager Rebecca Newman on the brewer’s website.

UBN

Image via Flickr user Travlr

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New Dogfish Ancient Ale, Etrusca, Coming in December

Dogfish Head Birra Etrusca Bronze Ancient Ale

Dogfish Head on Friday announced via Twitter that the latest beer in its Ancient Ales series, called Etrusca, is currently being bottled, and it will hit beer-store shelves in December.

The idea behind Dogfish’s Ancient Ales is to recreate lost styles of beer from ancient times, using recipes and ingredients that are close as possible to those originally used by their brewers.

Dr. Pat McGovern and Sam Calagione Discuss Etrusca

Dr. Pat McGovern and Sam Calagione Discuss Etrusca

Here’s a description of the new, 8.5% ABV brew, from Dogfish:

“This Ancient Ale proves that beside the wine on every Italian’s dinner table, there should also be a place for beer.

“To develop the recipe for Birra Etrusca Bronze, Dogfish Head’s Sam Calagione traveled to Rome with molecular archaeologist Dr. Pat McGovern. With the help of Birreria Brother Brewers Leo DeVencenzo of Birra del Borgo and Teo Musso of Baladin, they analyzed drinking vessels found in 2,800-year-old Etruscan tombs.

“The backbone of Birra Etrusca comes from two-row malted barley and an heirloom Italian wheat. Specialty ingredients include hazelnut flour, pomegranates, Italian chestnut honey, Delaware wildflower honey and clover honey. A handful of whole-flower hops are added, but the bulk of the bitterness comes from gentian root and the sarsaparilla-like Ethiopian myrrh resin.

“Birra del Borgo and Baladin also will brew a version of Birra Etrusca, and to add complexity and variety, each brewery will ferment its batches with different traditional materials. Dogfish will use bronze, Baladin will use wood, and Birra del Borgo will use terra cotta.”

I appreciate what Dogfish Founder Sam Calagione and his “beer archiologist” buddy Dr. Pat McGovern are trying to do with these Ancient Ales, and I love how Dogfish is always experimenting with new beers and ingredients. (Beer Advocate magazine recently mocked Calagione and McGovern in an amusing comic strip.)

Read more about Dogfish Head’s Birra Estrusca Ancient Ale on the brewery’s website.

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Zombies Love Good Beer Too (Dogfish Head ‘They’re Alive!’ Video)

The good folks at Dogfish Head just posted this amusing, if slightly corny, Zombie-themed Halloween video that appears to have been filmed at its Milton, Delaware brewery. The message of the video—besides, Happy Halloween—is that Dogfish’s bottle conditioned beers (Namaste, My Antonia and 75 Minute IPA) are “alive,” meaning they’re each bottled with live yeast, and they evolve and change over time in the bottles.

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5 Funky Facts I Learned About Dogfish Head from Founder Sam Calagione’s Business Book

Dogfish Sam Calagione book Brewing Up a Business: Adventures in Beer

Dogfish Head Craft Brewery Founder and President Sam Calagione is an interesting guy.

In addition to being a boundary-breaking craft brewer and entrepreneur, Calagione recorded a hip hop album in 2003. (Seriously, he and Dogfish Head brewer Bryan Selders form The Pain Relievaz. See the video clip below. Note: I never said it was a good hip hop album.) Calagione has a college degree in English, though he was kicked out of high school in Western Massachusetts and never received a high school degree. He was a Levi’s model. He literally changed the laws in Delaware in order to open the original Dogfish Head brewhouse, which was the first brewery in the nation’s first state. You get the point.

I know these things because I just finished reading Calagione’s small-business oriented book, Brewing Up a Business: Adventures in Beer from the Founder of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery. Calagione’s book is really about how to prepare to launch a small business and then make it successful, so it’s not for all craft beer aficionados. You’ll probably need some degree of interest in small business or entrepreneurship to get the most out it. But I’m no business owner or entrepreneur, and I really enjoyed the book because I’m a huge Dogfish Head fan, and it’s full of little-known facts and anecdotes about Dogfish and Calagione.

Here’s a quick list of five of the more notable things I learned from Brewing Up a Business. I don’t want to spoil the book, so I’ve only listed a handful of facts, but it’s packed with many more details that are sure to be appreciated by fans of Dogfish Head and Calagione:

1) Calagione was on the Ricki Lake show, and Lake tasted the first beer he ever brewed. That first beer was a pale ale made with cherries. And Ricki Lake attended the party he held to taste it shortly after he appeared on Lake’s show.

2) Dogfish made a malt liquor called Liquor de Malt, to prove it could make a better in that style than the established 40-ounce makers. Liquor de Malt was packaged in a 40-ounce bottle that came with a hand-stamped, Dogfish brown bag.

Dogfish Head Liquor de Malt malt liquor 40 ounce

3) Dogfish fans visiting coastal Delaware who want the ultimate brewery and brewpub tour can participant in the Dogfish Head 360 Degree Experience, which includes a hotel room at a local inn that’s customized with Dogfish memorabilia, meals at the brew pub and a boat ride to the Dogfish brewery, where they’ll receive tours and tastings.

4) Dogfish’s second most popular beer behind its 60 Minute IPA, Dogfish 90 Minute IPA, was originally packaged in a bomber bottle that was graced with an image of a circus freak jamming a nail up his nose. Shortly after 90 Minute IPA was released,  the photographer who took the image contacted Calagione to complain about unfair use. He wasn’t pleased until Dogfish sent him a bunch of beer and promised never to use the image again.

Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA original label

5) A 50-barrel brewery system Dogfish outgrew and sold in 2008 is now used by one of my favorite brewers, Northern California’s Russian River Brewing Co., makers of the elusive Pliny the Elder IPA.

The first edition of Calagione’s book was published in 2005, but it was revised and updated in 2010. Surf on over to Amazon.com, where the paperback and digital Kindle editions both cost less than $11.00.

UBN

Images via SarahForst.com, BeerAdvocate.com

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