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We had a good plan to go visit Dogfish Head Brewery in Milton, DE. We didn’t stick to the plan but it was a good plan none the less. Initially we were going to goto the Dogfish Head pub for lunch and then proceed to the brewery for a 4:30 tour/tasting. In reality Phil accidentally googled directions for the Brewery first (not the pub) which is over 30mins away from the brewery. We got to the brewery at 2:15 for a 4:30 tour. Fortunately there was space in the next tour so we decided to do the tour first and then goto dinner at the pub (or so we thought).


The tasting room was cool, they had this crazy treehouse out front with the freaking enormous holding tanks in the back ground. Since it was the first week of January they still had beer bottle christmas trees everywhere. Additionally I did not mind hanging out in the tasting room waiting for the tour to start.

Everyone was required to wear eye protection, Wil was not a huge fan. Our tour guide looked slightly like bigfoot but he knew everything about the brewery and took his beer very seriously.

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Even though they are a small craft brewery the sheer size of the operation was pretty amazing (reference the picture of the treehouse and holding tanks above). Ever since the show about the brewery started airing on the Discovery Channel the demand for Dogfish head has steadily increased. Specifically friends in Indiana have felt the increased demand because Dogfish Head had to drop distributors in Indiana last year. However, while we were there they were in the process of installing 650 BBL brewing tanks to complement their existing 400 BBL tanks. They indicated these should be up and brewing by mid 2013 to start supplying distributors in Indiana again by the end of 2013.


When you say Dogfish Head just about everyone thinks 60/90/120min IPA. These beers get these names based on how long they are ‘dry hopped’. Basically, how long are dry hops continually added to the beer while brewing. Back when the brewery was just stating up the method to continually dry hop these beers was to put a bunch of hops on one of those old electronically vibrating football games at a very slight slant duct  taped to the top of the brewing kettle. As you can imagine the FDA was not keen on this method. Going forward ‘OOOOH Me So Hoppy’ was invented and is used to do the continual dry hopping of the Dogfish Head flagship IPAs.


Dogfish Head keeps one case of ever single batch of beer they brew. Personally, I would like to live in that cage. The owner of Dogfish Head (Sam Calagione) says once his 3 kids are of age he is going to treat them to a 120min IPA from the first batch of 120min IPA ever brewed.


Dogfish ages some of their specialty beers in wooden tanks. They have three Oak tanks that are currently in use. A father/son team from Maine builds all Dogfish Head’s tanks. Each plank in these tanks are cut from a single Oak tree, the height of the tree dictates the max height of the tank. The planks are not grooved to fit together, they are cut the appropriate width and placed flush. Saturating and heating the planks cause them to expand enough within the iron rings so the full tank is water tight.

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Each of the Oak tanks cost ~$150k and provide a distinct flavor when the beer is aged inside. Dogfish Head is in the process of installing a new wooden aging tank made out of Palo Santo wood native to Peru and Venezuela which is costing them around $250k. Apparently it is one of the most dense woods on earth and has been used to as makeshift armor to stop small caliber bullets. I am extremely interested to taste any of the beers that come out of this tank.


There was lots more to see at the brewery, see the slide show below.

The tour ended in the tasting room where the guide said ‘if it was any other day I would recommend everyone head over to the Dogfish Head pub in Rehobeth Beach to taste the selections on tap’ . Unfortunately Amy, Wil, and I visited on the one Saturday of the year that they close early for their company ‘New Years’ party. We were disappointed but it just means that we will have to make the drive to Delaware again to drink delicious delicious Dogfish Head on tap.

We bought a few beers from the brewery store that I had never seen/tasted before. We bought “Miles Davis Bitches Brew” which is a tribute to the album of the same name released 40yrs ago. It is billed as an imperial stout but was lighter and sweeter than I expected. There is honey added to the brewing process at some point and you can tell. To me it tastes like a sweeter Guinness.


We also bought a 4 pack of the “Immort Ale”, another one I had never seen/tasted before. I don’t really know what style of  beer this is supposed to be beyond some sort of strong ale. I can taste the maple syrup and vanilla the bottle says it is brewed with but in all honesty I was not a huge fan, and it is few and far between that I find a Dogfish I can’t find something to like. As evidence,I still have two out of the four left, that never happens.


Even though things did not exactly as planned it was a great trip. We had been saying wanted to do the tour forever but had never gotten our act together to actually do it. Amy made reservations for the tour and gave the tickets to me for christmas to motivate us to actually make the drive to Delaware. As a reward for those of you that actually read this far I leave you with a picture of Wil and Barney.


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