Fordham and Dominion Step out from the Shadow of AB InBev and Some Changes are Coming.

To me, it always felt like Fordham and Dominion were a bit like the Rodney Dangerfield of Delaware brewing – some people just refused to give them any respect.

Which was sad, because in every way one could measure a vibrant, community active brewery, F&D seemed to either fit the bill or go above and beyond. But unfortunately there was one blemish on their otherwise fine looking resume which some people simply could not get past. No, try to say or write anything nice about the myriad of things F&D do that can be presented in a positive light, and some people would quickly pull the shades closed and declare, “they’re owned by AB InBev!”

I have to be honest, I’d heard it or read it so many times, that chorus of disdain that was presented with so much damnation that one could literally hear the dismissive “whatever” snap at the end of the statement.

So many times I’d heard it in fact that I finally broke down and asked the brewery about their official standing with AB InBev that resulted in me having a nice chat with F&D President Jim Lutz, in which I admit, though I might not have found it as satisfying as I was hoping for with the percentage of stake that AB InBev held in the breweries, I did find comfort that the corporate giant was not involved with the day-to-day operations and decisions at the brewery.

But still people would cast stones and I feared the brewery, to some people’s eyes, would never step out of the shadow of being owned to an extent by a company that unfortunately caused the Brewer’s Association to label them as “non-craft”. But that was until recently.

Last week I posted some new labels from the brewery for Copperhead Ale and Gypsy Lager, pointing out changes in the designs and the branding. There was one other change as well, but one I did not want to comment on without first reaching out to the brewery to see if I could get some more clarification. This is the change that got me excited:

That’s the Brewer’s Association Independent Craft Brewer Seal, that can only be placed on the label of a beer made by a brewery that meets the BA’s definition of independent – a definition that until quite recently F&D did not meet.

So I reached out to F&D for some information concerning the seal and what that meant for the brewery and Vice President of Sales, Giuseppe Desilvio was nice enough to pass on some good news, “Yes, just [a] few months ago we signed our “divorce papers” from Anheuser-Busch InBev, so Fordham & Dominion is now 100% independently owned.”

That’s great news for the brewery and a win in general for Delaware beer scene. But, Giuseppe informed me that there will be a few other changes due to this new found independence.

“We just started a full package re-fresh, and all of our products moving forward will have the Independent Craft Seal on it and will come out under the “Fordham & Dominion” logo. We are merging our two portfolios and will no longer release beers under just “Fordham” or “Dominion””.  

That was interesting as the two portfolios were kept quite separate and indeed were quite distinctive from each other – especially the Pin-up series. How will those labels change? We’ll just have to wait and see. As for now, I’m just glad that the old retort, “Yeah, but they’re partially owned by Budweiser” can be laid to rest once and for all.

As always, I’d like to thank Giuseppe Desilvio for taking some of his valuable time to talk to me.


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New Label Art – Fordham and Dominion Gypsy and Copperhead

When I saw these new labels from FoDo, my initial reaction was, “it’s kind of soon for a rebranding isn’t it?” But as I looked over the new artwork, I began to believe that there was possibly more here than initially meets the eye.

The repeating pattern of these labels really strike me as beer can labels and at 7 x 5.25 in dimension, puts them at around the right size for can art. Still, they could be bottle labels, I guess we’ll see, but being able to soon pick up some FoDo beers in cans would be a nice thing.

And yes, FoDo beers, because for years Fordham and Dominion have kept the two brands independent of each other when it comes to their respective beers, each brewery having its own distinct style. But, notice that on these labels both brands are predominantly displayed together, not just in one place, but in two, with one of them echoing the branding that the breweries use on their merchandise and marketing.

Keep an eye out!

Dogfish Head 2019 Release Calendar – What’s New, What’s Gone.

Tuesday I was surfing the interwebs looking for something to distract me from doing what I should have been doing when something from Dogfish Head popped up and reminded me that I should (once again) check to see if they had posted up their 2019 beer release calendar yet. Sadly, they had not, which caused me to wonder why considering we’re starting to chip away at the month of December.

But, about a hour later I was on Facebook (still not doing what I was supposed to be doing) when I saw that Sam was live going through next year’s releases with the calendar being posted on the website soon after. This could have been one of those great cosmic coincidences that occasionally happens (like when you think of a song you haven’t heard of for a long time and then it happens to be the next song to play on the radio) or it could be (as I like to think of it) a case of great minds thinking a like. Anyway, let’s see how it shapes up this year.

As with last year, the releases are broken up into three categories: Year Round, Art Series, and Occasionals. And, don’t be surprised if a few beers that aren’t listed pop up throughout the year, DFH can be sneaky that way.

Year round is pretty much the same as last year with only one notable change, Liquid Truth Serum graduates from last year’s Art Series. The beer is currently available out there in 16oz cans, but you can also expect to see it in 12oz cans soon.

Sadly, something had to apparently go, so Indian Brown has been dropped this year, so if you’re a fan get it while you can.

The Art Series still sees Dragons & Yums Yums and Punkin Ale anchor down the middle of the year while last year’s Romantic Chemistry has been replaced with The Perfect Disguise (Feb-Apr). Liquid Truth Serum, due to its promotion to year round will be replaced by 75 Minute IPA (Nov-2020J) which you can pick up in stores now even though it wasn’t on last year’s calendar (see, sneaky).

Occasionals? Well let’s just say if you’re a huge fan of any of the beers on last year’s list, you might be disappointed this year. Festina Peche, Mixed Media, Fruit-Full Fort, Pennsylvania Tuxedo, and Siracusa Nera all disappear. The only beer that survives the culling is 120 Minute IPA (Aug-Dec).

Replacing that troop is American Beauty (which in a total contradiction is “ocssionally” available from Jan to Dec next year), Raison D’Extra (Jan-Apr), World Wide Stout (May-Aug), and SuperEIGHT (Apr-Dec).

Also on the calendar are the Summer Variety pack (May-August), and the IPA for the Holidays pack (Nov-Dec).

Below is my annual, no thrills version of the calendar. You can find DFH’s snazzy version here.

Now go drink some beer!

May Beers and Label Art for Delaware

Well May has come and gone so let’s take a look at some of the new beers and label art that it brought us:

First up, Dogfish Head gives a few tweaks to its 90 Minute IPA label while adding the word “IMPERIAL” into the mix. 90 Minute has always been described as an Imperial IPA, but now the word is front and center. They of course echoed this repackaging for the 1 pint energy drink cans.

Dogfish Head

Next up, Mispillion River with The Goon IPA and War Badger, a sour beer brewed with fruit grape.

Mispillion

Iron Hill usually doesn’t have a lot of labels come through the system, but this month they’ve been pretty active. Below are labels for Vienna Red Lager, Ore House IPA, Crusher Session IPA, and a Halloween inspired (my favorite obviously) Pumpkin Ale.

Iron Hill

Speaking of busy, the guys over at Midnight Oil have been busy doing more than making beer. Here’s a nice collection of keg labels from them.

Midnight Oil

And last but not least, 16 Mile with a very interesting looking label for their New England style IPA, Solar Flare. 16 Mile is also doing their thing were they’re passing numerous keg label through the system that are their beers mixed with various fruit and herbs. I haven’t included them because they’re pretty non-descriptive but they include Blue’s Golden with Blood Oranges, Blue’s Golden with allspice, apples, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, honey and mace, as well as Amber Sun with ginger and apples.

16 Mile

Possessed Microwaves, and Big Oyster’s DANG!

The other night my daughter and her friend were over for dinner. Whenever the girl visits from school the go to meal is usually cavatelli and broccoli, a simple dish that luckily also calls for bacon and parmesan cheese – because broccoli, is….well, broccoli.

When it was time to put in the broccoli, I placed a two bags of frozen chopped in our usually reliable microwave, pushed the defrost button and turned my back to continue to pull the dish together. The next thing I know my daughter was saying with an emphatic tone, “Dad, your microwave is on fire!”

I quickly turned to find that although there was indeed cause for alarm my daughter’s statement did not properly convey the situation that was unfolding. Because, although the microwave was dutifully going about its business, the receptacle it was plugged into be like…

sparks flying anima

I personally believe it was the microwave showing its displeasure at having to defrost broccoli. I might be wrong about that. I just know from past experience that broccoli can mess some shit up which is why little kids won’t touch the stuff. They know. Their survival instincts are uncanny.

So, the microwave was unplugged, the receptacle checked for issues, marked for replacement, and calm was restored in the household.

The next night I wanted popcorn. Believing popcorn to be more agreeable to the microwave than broccoli (and having not swapped out the receptacle yet), I moved stuff around on the kitchen counter so I could plug the microwave into another receptacle. When I pressed the popcorn button the fan and the carousel worked fine, but as soon as the magnetron kicked on, the kitchen lights be like…

Lights out Anima

At this point I believed that the microwave was indeed putting out some “demonic spirit” type vibe as my knowledge of the electrical wiring in the house assured me that the light and the receptacle are not on the same circuit. I might be wrong about that. I just know that demonic spirits can mess some shit up which is why dogs won’t go near them. They know. Their survival instincts are uncanny.

Realizing I only had one option open to me, I unplugged the microwave and stood there in silence. I’d had this microwave for a very long time and it had always proven to be a trusted and faithful servant (its defrost function was on point!), but once demonic spirits get into your microwave there is little you can do.

No, once your microwave has been infested with demonic spirits the only option left to you is to fill the inside with salt and sage, and bury it on holy ground during a full moon. I might be wrong about that. I just know that improperly interred demonic spirit infested microwaves can mess some shit up which is why school lunch ladies won’t go near them. They know. Their survival instincts are uncanny. And always drive back to your house using a circuitous route so that the angry spirits cannot follow you back and infest your new microwave.

Exorcism? Yeah,  you could try that, but always make sure you check with your Demonologist and Master of the Black Arts before hand…

constantine

Empty stomach? Yeah, well I could take care of that with some popcorn or a Celeste’s Frozen Pizza, but in case you haven’t been keeping up, my microwave is…..Oh, you mean beer! Well, luckily I had that covered with Big Oyster Brewery’s DANG! IPA. Let’s taste.

THEM: BOB lists DANG! as a New England/West Coast crossover of the seasonal variety and describes it thusly on their website, “Dang! is one of our most popular beers. Brewed with flaked wheat and dry hopped three times for a pronounced citrus, fruity aroma.DANG! Clocks in at 5.8%ABV.

BUZZ: Ratebeer (3.6/5 – only one rating), Beer Advocate (3.86/5), Untappd (3.8/5)

DE AVAILABILITY: Selected fine beer outlets.

ME: Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve probably worked through four of five 4-packs of this beer. That’s right, DANG! comes in the devil-witchery packaging that is the 4-pack. But, since it is a 4-pack of 16-oz cans, we’ll cut some slack here.

Dang! is a pretty beer, as long as you don’t mind some haze (and you shouldn’t), pouring a golden hue with hints of orange dancing in the light. The nose is stuffed with all kinds of hoppy aromas like tropical fruits, citrus and earthy notes. The flavor doesn’t stray from the hops very far, although there is a touch of caramel tucked in there and when the beer warms up a bit I almost get an iced tea vibe from it, but that just might be my palate playing tricks.

But it’s the hops that are definitely front and center here, with more tropical fruits, citrus and herbal goodness. Surprisingly, DANG! doesn’t finish as big and bitey on the back end as you might expect (although Tracey would probably disagree).

All in all, Big Oyster’s DANG! fits the New England/West Coast crossover description fairly well and if hoppy beers, and/or the recent New England IPA craze are your thing, one you should probably try while it’s still available.

Time for another beer.

Dang-5427
THE FINAL SIP: I believe the best way to ensure that demonic spirits do not move into your newly purchased microwave is to perform an initial blessing by offering it something of value.  But I might be wrong about that…

 

Fordham’s Dilated Pupilz Golden Pils

Dark Eye Glasses Not Required.

I’ve been changing my drinking habits lately. Running around trying to grab every beer that one has never tried is a young man’s game, and I just don’t seem to have the energy for it like I used to. And yes, you can do the logic problem and conclude that I’m not a young man anymore.

Instead, I’ve been grabbing some local beers off the shelf and just kind of hanging out with them. Whether it be a six pack over a long weekend, or a couple (or maybe three) over a period of a couple of weeks (or months). I’ve been just hanging out with the beer, kicking back, relaxing, experiencing it at different times and in different situations, while trying not to let too many other beers distract me.

What is this beer? Does it have a story? Does the story change over time?

Will this improve my reviews? Probably not. But they’ll be changing a bit as well as the wordy intros will probably be whittled down to a few words so that the review is more concise and quicker for you to read.

I also want to use this beer ‘quality time’ to take some photos of the beer and let you all have a peek at what the beer and I are doing in our lives. And the truth is, I’d rather be playing in Lightroom and Photoshop lately than writing long, rambling reviews.

So  with that, let’s check out the first beer in this new format, Fordham Brewing’s Dilated Pupilz.

THEM: From the website – “Dilated Pupilz has a solid malt backbone and well balanced hop character.  This golden pilsner showcases a distinct hop nose and malty flavor up front but finishes with a floral bitterness. A great beer to enjoy any time of the year.”

The grain bill includes Vienna and Caraform malts, while Bravo, Tradition and Saaz hops balance the load. Pupilz clocks in at 5.0%ABV and 38IBU.

THE BUZZ: Ratebeer (no ratings), Beer Advocate (one rating), Untappd (3.4)

DE AVAILABILITY: Most fine beer outlets.

ME: As you can see by the below photos I’ve been drinking this one for a little while now. I’ve found it mostly to be a beer that drinks pretty nice in most situations without demanding too much attention on itself.

When stored in my super turbo beer over-chiller (aka, my fridge) Pupilz has a clean nose and a just apparent malt taste with some classic Pilsner hop flavors. Every now and then the beer tosses me a citrusy/lemon notes towards the end, not sure if that’s really there, or if it’s my palate doing some of that slight-of-hand stuff that it does sometimes. The end is pretty crisp and doesn’t linger.

I wasn’t sure I liked this beer at first, but in the end it really started to grow on me. In fact, once I had everything I needed for this review, I found myself picking up one last six-pack – you know, just for the hell of it.

As always click on a photo to enlarge and cycle through the gallery to read a little comment or two about each photo.

Time for another beer.

Class in a Glass – 16 Mile’s Seed-Free and Joy Watermelon Ale

OK, if I tell you this is the second flavored beer in a row that I’ve reviewed and the last review I posted was Stewart’s Stumbling Monk – don’t panic. Beer reviews are like a TV series here at tDoB, the order I shoot (write) them in might not necessarily be the order I broadcast (post) them. I just finished writing the guts of Mispillion River’s Cupacabra! the other day and that review is now in (what we like to call in the biz) post production. When either that one or this one will see the light of day remains to be seen.

Anyway, the flavored beer I’d like to focus on this time is Seed-Free and Joy, a Summer-time offering from the 16 Mile Brewery. The name is a play on Siegfried & Roy, the highly successful duo of Las Vegas magicians who were known for their use of lions and tigers in their act. Unfortunately an incident on stage in October of 2003 involving a 7-year old white tiger left Roy Horn severely injured and forced the Mirage Hotel and Casino to indefinitely cancel the show. The duo ended up retiring from show business in 2010 having made only one more stage appearance since Roy’s injuries.

In fact, the beer makes reference to Roy’s attack on the label with the artwork of a tiger eating a watermelon. While I have to admit appreciating the cleverness involved I found the humor a little on the dark side.

Buddy Avatar 50Dude, you dressed up as Roy Horn for one of your Halloween parties!

 

No I didn’t.

Buddy Avatar 50Yes you did! That’s where the white tiger that’s your truck’s security system came from!

 

Ahhhh no, pretty sure I’d remember that. Now as I was….

Buddy Avatar 50Blood and all! I’ve see the picture around here somewhere.

 

Hahahaa noooo, no you haven’t. Besides there’s not time for that now….because I gotta….I gotta…..review this beer! Yeah! Let’s taste!

THEM: Seed-Free and Joy started as beer #5 in 16 Mile’s Off The Grid series in May of 2014. The beer was described by the brewer as a “classic American session ale, also known as a blonde”, brewed with watermelon and cucumbers, and initially clocking in at around 4.5%ABV (the bottle version is a tad higher at 4.9%).

ME: Pretty beer, a touch above golden to a light copper in my glass from bottom to top with a nice vortex of carbonation rising to support a nice ring and island of foam on top of the beer. My fridge may have over chilled this beer as does happen sometimes because I’m getting very little in the way of the watermelon, but what I am getting is a delightful cracker/bread crust/freshly cracked grain aroma that I’m finding really enjoyable. That cracked grain description hit me at the end, and now that it’s in my mind the aroma reminds me of how my barroom would smell when we’d hold grain grinding parties when I homebrewed. So nice.

Buddy Avatar 50Don’t go anywhere! I think it’s in this drawer somewhere!

 

That’s OK! No need to bother yourself! I take my first sip and all that aroma is definitely in the taste as well as a flash of melon and the sensation of freshly cut cucumber in the middle. I’ll admit, I probably wouldn’t have caught the cucumber if I hadn’t known it was there, but it is definitely in the mix. SFaJ finishes clean, almost to be empty on the back (as I find a lot of 16 Mile beers are) with just a hint of lingering cracked grain and hoppy spiciness; along with a slight anticipation for the next sip. The 4.9%ABV is right where it should be and as always I’ll leave it to the session police to squabble over the numbers.

If I had to chose between Chupacabra! and Seed-Free as my Summer thirst quencher – I’m going to have to go with Seed-Free as I just loved the cracker/grainy base of the beer. The watermelon is there, but it’s not at a level to be either bubble-gummy or gimmicky.

Buddy Avatar 50FOUND IT!

 

me-at-halloween

You’re an ass.

Buddy Avatar 50Admit it, you love dark humor.

 

Yeah, sigh…..I do.

Time for another beer.

Seed-Free
THE FINAL SIP: Roy Horn insisted after the incident that no harm come to the tiger that injured him. The tiger passed away in 2014 at the age of 17. (PHOTO CREDIT: The Dogs of Beer)