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.
An explosion of fruit in every sip, Dragons & YumYums is an intensely tropical – yet subtlety bitter – pale ale brewed with a combination of dragon fruit, yumberry, passionfruit, pear juice and black carrot juice. Clocking in at 6.5% ABV and 25 IBU, Dragons & YumYums is a first-of-its-kind beer and vinyl collaboration with American rock icons, The Flaming Lips.
The new label keeps the vibe of the original by Marq Spusta with 2019 Off Centered Art Series artist Michael Hacker giving the label a more candy wrapper feel to it with its more whimsical themes and cartoon like characterizations. It almost wouldn’t surprise me if it had “Taste the Rainbow®” typed at the bottom.
The new Dragons and Yumyums label (top) and the original one (below):
I think the label certainly captures Michael’s style – his work seems full of heads opening up and things popping out of them, usually brains that seem to have the desire to escape, which is probably best illustrated by the rabbit in his Cardiff, Wales, Blink 182 concert poster.
The Perfect Disguise will be released in 12oz bottles. I would suspect this might be part of their IPA holiday pack, but as an entry in the off-centered art series, I wouldn’t be surprised if this has its own stand alone release.
Below is Michael’s art work from the 2017 record store day. While the animal in the chair with the fish album over its face was used on the posters, this expanded version was painted on the side of the truck used as a mobile gallery that visited 29 cities last year. The gallery was part of a collaboration between Dogfish Head and Crosley turntables.
Michael also supplied the artwork for DFH’s up coming 75 minute IPA release:
Dogfish Head has a new 12oz bottle label for its music series, Grateful Dead collaboration American Beauty. American Beauty is now listed as a pale ale brewed with granola and honey and clocks in at 6.5%ABV which is down quite a bit from the 9.0%ABV it contained when it was classified as an imperial pale ale during its large bottle run.
American Beauty was not on DFH’s release list this year, so I suspect this might be another addition their end of the year holiday IPA pack (although yes, the label says pale ale), the other being 75 minute which, like American Beauty, also recently got a new 12oz label while not having a slot on the release calendar.
I try to keep up on the new label art that comes out of Delaware breweries (and sometimes local favorites outside Delaware) but I’ve never done a post like this before.
You see, not only are bottle/can labels available, but keg labels as well. Now, I don’t normally share these because there’s rarely anything to them, usually just a ring shaped label with some words and a box checked indicating what beer is inside.
But I thought for the fun off it, I’d share some of these recent keg labels along with some new label art that will soon be arriving at your favorite brewery/liquor store. In fact, you might have seen a few of these already as I’ve been hording some of these for quite some time.
First, let’s spread some love to the non-beer folks by starting with a beautiful array of label art for wines and meads from the folks over at Brimming Horn Meadery.
Next up is a couple of labels from Painted Stave Distilling, the corn whiskey with the mesquite and apple wood smoked malts sounds interesting.
Time for some beer, first up, Mispillion River with a keg label for Dank Lord IPA (I told you these keg labels usually weren’t all that exciting) followed by their new label art for Weiss City, a Berliner Weisse brewed with mangoes and oranges.
Next, let’s look at a couple of things from Dogfish Head, keg labels for Firefly Ale (which should be no stranger to DFH fans), Unencumbered Antelope (saison brewed with cantaloupe and cucumber), In Your Mace (which DFH describes as “a coffee milk stout brewed with cinnamon verum chips from the Zanzibar Islands, mace spice, milk sugars, coffee, chicory and most importantly … chili oils, the active ingredient in Mace Brand (yep, the pepper spray).”), and new label art for the tasting room exclusive Viniferous, another attempt to win over the wine/beer hybrid fans. The beer is hopped with Hallertau Blanc, Huell Melon, and El Dorado while containing fermented Riesling and Viognier grape must.
And finally, a few keg labels from 3rd Wave Brewing, Surf School, a New England Style IPA and Juice Box a Berliner Weisse.
Well, since we are now firmly on the path to 2019 I thought it would be a nice time to take a few minutes and look at Dogfish Head’s release calendar for 2018.
Granted, this information has been out for a while, mid- November for the most part, but I didn’t want to get to in front of the game. But now that 2018 is here (and apparently staying) let’s take a look.
Not much has changed in the Year-Round offerings with perennials such as 60 Minute, 90 Minute, Indian Brown, and Midas Touch returning, along with newer offerings Flesh & Blood IPA and SeaQuench Ale. However, 2018 does see the inclusion of two newbies to this category – Lupu Luau IPA graduates off of the 2017 occasional team to full-time status hitting the shelves in 12oz cans. Along with Luau, DFH will be offering their very popular Bitches Brew (well, I don’t know how popular it is, but it’s popular with me) in 12oz bottles but with the added twist of the beer being wood aged.
The Seasonal team, this year described as the ‘Off-Centered Art Series’ stays pretty much in tacked with Punkin Ale and Liquid Truth Serum holding down the fall and winter (I’m using seasonal terms like spring and fall pretty loosely here, check the calendar below for exact months and don’t kill me) slots respectively. Romantic Chemistry however, shifts to 2018 spring leaving 2018 summer open for:
DFH’s latest music collaboration gives a nod to The Flaming Lips, and is a tart pale ale is brewed with dragonfruit, yumberry, passionfruit, pear juice and black carrot juice. Wow.
Next, we have that total wild-card group that DFH refers to as the “Occasionals”. Bad news first, fans of Olde School, Saison du Buff and Oak-aged Vanilla WWS will find their beers missing from the shelves in 2018. Pennsylvania Tuxedo, 120 Minute and Festina Peche will be making returns however, look for them about the same times they were released last year.
Siracusa Nera does some Chris Angel type magic considering that (I believe) it was on the shelves recently although it was not on the 2017 release calendar. Well, unless something changes, it IS on the 2018 release calendar, so if you’ve found it and liked it, you will again this year.
Their holiday IPA 12-pack will make an appearance again, the brewery stating that included beers will be announced later. I wouldn’t be surprised if an IPA that’s not on their release calendar makes an “holiday pack only” appearance.
Two new entries join the ones above, first Fruit-Full Fort, a Belgian-style ale fermented with four different types of beer juices including boysenberry, blackberry, raspberry and elderberry, which the brewery describes as “ageable”. And finally:
A beer that’s splitting its fermentables bill between 50.1% grain and 49.9% grapes. And if you think that 0.1% isn’t important, well it’s apparently what is keeping this beverage firmly in the “beer” category.
And there you have it. Dogfish Head’s 2018 release calendar. If you’re more of a visual person, my quick and dirty graphic can be found below. For a more comprehensive (complete with packaging options for each beer) and agreeably much prettier version, you can go on over to the DFH site, here.
Happy 2018 everyone, and as always, it’s time for another beer!
[Author’s Note: August is the Dog(fish Head) days of Summer here at The Dogs of Beer. All throughout the month I’ll be looking exclusively at the beers from DFH.]
Well I had things kind of in order for what’s coming up in the following weeks but for some reason nature doesn’t seem to like. The pictures I was going to use for the first three posts of the Dogfish Days of Summer are still stuck in a phone that mysteriously died while simply sitting on my night stand. Media backup you say? Yeah. One day I’ll have to find where that is and clean it up, because I get a notification every day when it tries to sync. Apparently it’s full. Of what I have no idea.
Luckily I realized that tomorrow (today as you’re reading this) is IPA day, so doing the post I was going to do (you know, the one with the picture I don’t have) wouldn’t have been appropriate (really, who wants to read about Positive Contact on IPA Day?) anyway. So with all that useless chatter out of the way, let’s tip a hat to IPA Day by taking a quick look at DFH’s continuously hopped series. NOTE: I’m not including Sixty-One in this review because it’s kind of a beer unto itself and I already reviewed it.
It all started in April of 2001 when DFH introduced the interestingly named 90-Minute IPA (yep, 90 came first), a beer that boasted a continuous hop addition during the entire length of the 90 minute wort boil. DFH maintained that the continuous hopping would make for a more pungent and complex hop flavor/aroma then with traditional scheduled hopping.
To facilitate the continuous hopping, DFH turned to a complex piece of equipment, that old football game some of us had when we were young. You remember, the one that would vibrate and make the players move? You ‘member? You ‘member! The beer turned out to be very well received and in the following years DFH released other “durations” and variations on the continuously hopped theme.
THEM: Just a quick word here to keep in mind for the rest of the month – DFH is kind of an odd duck in that they will go out of their way to tell you about all the bizarre stuff they put in their beers, but mention almost nothing about the base ingredients. And it’s kind of the same with their “normal” beers. They don’t seem the need to expound upon what’s being put in the bottle. I sent an Email to the brewery asking if anyone want to answer questions about the beers I’d be reviewing this month. But so far it looks like I’m on my own.
Jamil Zainasheff in a Brewing Network show said that one-time DFH brew master Andy Tveekrem stated in an interview that the hops used in 120-Minute IPA were a blend of Warrior, Simcoe and Amarillo. Looking at recipes for clones of 60 and 90-Minute there seems to be a lot of consensus that these hops feature heavily in both of those beers as well.
This is probably the beer that most people think about when they think DFH, and with good reason. 60M pours an amber color with an awesome white, fluffy head that just doesn’t go away. The hops are apparent, but the beer is very smooth and easy drinking. Notes of citrus and grass take center stage against a light malt background. There’s no unrealized hype in this bottle. 60M deserves every accolade it gets.
Interestingly I find the nose of 90M more subdued that 60M, with the 60M having a slightly more grassy edge, and the 90M having more of the malt peek through. There’s more of a spice and hop crispness on the tongue with the 90M but make no mistake, this is one easy drinking beer for a glass with all those hops and 9% ABV in it. The malt peaks through more than the 60M, which doesn’t surprise because as you go up in ABV and IBU you need more on the other side of the seesaw to balance it all out.
In my opinion, 75-Minute IPA is a case of a brewery not leaving well enough alone. The beer itself is simply a blend of the 60 and 90 together which was then casked (usually with a cascade dry hop) and served through a beer engine. And IT WAS GREAT! Oh yeah, British Beer and Beer Culture enthusiast DING would probably state that the ABV and hop levels are too high to make this a truly cask-worthy beer, and I might agree with that – if I didn’t like drinking it so.freakin.much! Two Stones had it on regularly and I never missed a chance to have a pint of it. And everything was happy….until…..DFH decided to bottle it. I guess so many people enjoyed it, that they assumed it would be a good thing to make it more available to everyone. According to Sam the beer is no longer a blend, but the result of a 75 minute continual hop process. Maple syrup is added just before bottling to add a touch of extra complexity and to naturally carbonate the beer in the bottle. Sadly, I haven’t see 75-Minute on cask since they’ve begun bottling it.
I miss the cask version. Just sayin’. As I’m sipping it compared to the other two (yeah, I’m useless at this point and I haven’t even gotten to the 120M yet) I definitely taste an extra something in the 75M. There’s a touch of sweetness that the other two didn’t have and almost a sense of tea on my tongue. There’s also something in the nose that takes this to a slightly different place than 60M or 90M, maybe a touch more citrus? I almost want to say lemons. I’m going to say it, of the three so far, I’m giving the nose to 75M, a slight nod to flavor to the 60M (although damn the 75 is good) and drinkability is dealer’s choice here.
When I caught wind of 120 that’s when the wheels in the old head started turning. “Sooner or later”, said I, “DFH is going to get to a point where this whole thing is just going to take a sharp turn.” And sure enough, it was with 120-Minute. This is just in a class all by itself, You just have to decide if you want to take the class or transfer to an easier course. First, there’s more pine/resin in the nose in 120M than any of the other three. There’s also a huge amount of backbone here that comes across to me as honey. It’s no surprise that DFH had to hump this up to balance out the 15-20% ABV and the 120 IBU and in doing so, almost walked 120M right out of the beer category. For a wine comparison DFH suggests that it’s more like Whisky than wine, but with its in-your-face sweetness, slight spice, and touch of alcohol (oh yeah, this beer is flaunting it all out there for everyone to see) , I’d say that it drinks more like a port.
So what have we learned (other than tasting all four continuously hopped beers in one night will make your slightly “off center”)? Well, I think this – DFH is always going to get attention for all the “bizarre” stuff they do, the ancient ales, the wine hybrids, etc. But with all that, one should never forget that they built their company on producing rock solid everyday beers, and the continuously hopped IPA series is definitely part of that equation. If you ever make it to our fine little state, make sure you pick some up.
And now, the first ever tDoB ratings (remember: keg, case, 6/4-Pack, glass or taster). Sound the trumpets!!
60 Minute- Going full case here. There’s nothing in this beer that an IPA lover should find “off”. Really it drinks like chocolate milk it’s so smooth. I’m actually embarrassed to say I probably haven’t had one of these in almost a year. I won’t be waiting that long for another one.
90 Minute – Six/Four Pack. Of the four, it ended up being my least fave (but we’re talking by a very small margin), but that doesn’t mean you won’t love it. Just make sure before you invest big.
75 Minute – Case. Slight touch of sweetness and a bit more citrus than 60M and 90M, this is just a damn good beer. Grab a 750mL bottle and see for yourself. And yes, I still miss the cask.
120 Minute – And now we find out why rating systems are suspect. From a purely ranking endeavor this should be a case. This thing just rocks. But since this isn’t your mom’s IPA I’m going to give it a TASTER – especially at $10 for a 12oz bottle. Really, find out if it’s your glass of beer for free if you can. If you love it, it’s well worth the price for an occasional treat.
As many of you know, growlers are now all the rage here in Delaware. More than a dozen liquor stores (and restaurants with off-premise licenses) have begun to fill growlers, and I suspect that it won’t be long before that number doubles. I’m also beginning to see some diversity in the approach stores are taking towards their growler business – especially in equipment. Some are happy to have just four beers pouring out of a simple kegerator type tap system. Some are putting in more stylized refrigeration “bars” which allow them to pour from 8-16 different taps. And then there’s this animal:
That my friends is a three tier PEGAS growler filling system which Kreston Liquors has had installed in both their stores (and nicknamed it “The Deathstar”). The system has three filling platforms, each capable of drawing from four individual beer lines (for a total of 12 beers total). The system first purges the air from your growler with CO2, and then slowly fills your growler from the bottom, thus minimizing waste. It’s a thing of beauty. Seriously.
Although they’ve been filling for a couple of days, yesterday the Wilmington store decided to have a grand opening if you will. In order to officially kick off growler sales, all 12 taps were dedicated to Dogfish Head beers (Firefly Ale, Birra Etrusca, Sixty-One Minute, Theobroma, Sah’Tea, Immort Ale, Chateau Jiahu, Midas Touch, Palo Santo, Burton Baton, 60 Minute, and 90 Minute to be precise) and called in to help out and greet the thirsty shoppers was none other than Sam Calagione, owner of Dogfish Head brewery.
Sam Calagione signing a glass
Sam Calagione signing a growler
Quiet a few people showed up and stood in line for a good while to talk to Sam, get an autographed growler or get a picture taken and I can say that they weren’t disappointed. Sam was engaging and funny, and didn’t seem to have any trouble finding something to talk to everyone about. When I told him that the last time he and I shook hands was at the Chicago Real Ale festival in 1994, he smile and comment how much he loved the festival, and was sorry that they don’t have it anymore. We talked Delaware craft beer quickly (I asked him to sign my growler “The Dogs of Beer”, which led to blog talk) and got an inside scoop on his thoughts on Alemonger’s prediction that he’ll open a winery by 2015. I’m not going to reveal what he told me, I’ll just say that for now, give me $20 on “NO”.
Soon it was time to get some beer in my growler (I wanted, no NEEDED Firefly) and I got to talk to Sean and Jeff from Kreston a bit about the new system. Jeff says they hope to have more of these “growler take overs” in the future. And Sean informed me that if you have an iPhone or iPad, you can down load Beer Wizard ($0.99) and use that app at any time to find out what’s on draft at either store.
On the way out I bumped into Rob Pfeiffer, head brewer for Twin Lakes Brewery who was only there to pick up a bottle of wine and was wondering why he had such a hard time finding a parking spot on what is normally a not very busy Wednesday. We got a chance to talk about the upcoming Delaware Brewer’s Guild “Brews by the Bay” (it looks like the collaborative brew will be brewed at Stewarts), and the hurtles of putting out a second shelf product when you package in cans verse bottles (you can use the same bottles, just print different labels, but if you can if have to order a ton of different cans).
All in all it was a great way to kill a couple of hours. I got to talk to a few people who make the Delaware craft beer scene tick, and I’ve got a growler of Firefly waiting for me at home.
On January 8th a user on Beer Advocate posted a question in their forums: “What brewery out there gets too much hype for what they bring to the table? My money goes to Dogfish Head. Their IPAs are solid but most of their “big” beers really aren’t anything special and some are downright bad.” From this post began what started out as an interesting discussion on breweries people thought were overrated. And most of the comments were focused on the only metric I believe you can rate a brewery on when having this discussion – price.
After all when it comes to flavor, no brewery gets it 100% right. People have different tastes, and different opinions on what they’re looking for in certain beers. And although you might think a brewery’s IPA nails it for you, their porter might leave you lacking. But if others are drinking it, can you honestly say they missed the mark on it? Maybe from a BJCP point of view if the beer truly isn’t a porter, but for the every day craft beer lover who just has an idea what flavor profile he likes in a porter, I don’t think so.
The debate continued to escalate as well known breweries like Founders, DFH, Avery, Rogue, Stone and Southern Tier got thrown onto the pile. Comments like “…that’s not what I’m looking for in a DIPA” and …”their big beers are a mess” started to pop up. And the thread continued to grow until one man decided he’d had enough. And that man was Sam Calagione, owner of Dogfish Head brewery. You can read this post here. And I encourage you to do so. Because although I don’t agree with some of the comments he makes up front, the basic message of, “That doesn’t mean the one you didn’t prefer sucked. And the breweries you don’t prefer but are growing don’t suck either. Respect Beer.“, is a damn good one. Let’s face it, most people in craft beer world are pretty knowledgeable so if a brewery truly sucks it probably won’t be around very long, let alone grow into well known entity like Rogue or Stones.
Reading through the thread at Beer Advocate I believe some people have lost sight of why they started drinking craft beer to begin with. It’s supposed to be fun, the joy of finding new things, or as LyricsLibationsandLife says, The Thrill of the Hunt. But I think some people have gotten to caught up in their own ratings. It’s all become a numbers thing now. If a popular brewery puts out 6 beers and they rate one of them a 5 and the rest 2’s, some seem to focus more on the low ranked beers rather then talk about the one they like. However, I can’t completely dump on the negative responders. After all, the question was asked. It’s only natural to answer if you have an opinion on the subject.
So is DFH (or any other craft brewery) overrated in my mind? I’m on record with my friends as not being a strong DFH fan so it would be easy for me to fall into that trap. But I prefer to look at it another way, if DFH were NOT around then I definitely would miss not having Theobroma, Burton Baton and 75 minute IPA on cask. I’ll leave the “overrated” debate to the masses over at Beer Advocate. I’m just here for good beer.
And on that note – time for another beer. Probably one from one of those “overrated” breweries everyone is on about…
Last night I had the pleasure of hanging out with some friends (along with the co-founder of tDoB, Chuck!) at Two Stones Pub in Newark, Delaware for what has become a Wednesday night tradition. The place was packed (nice business for a Wed) and the beer choices were excellent as usual. But that’s not what brought us in – it was Randall.
Now Randall isn’t the cook, the beer buyer or the pretty bartender with the sweet smile (but if she was that would be funny), no randall is a little contraption dreamt up by the boys at Dogfish Head. This little device allows you to infuse any beer from your tap system with anything you want. And I do mean anything. If you can get it into the first chamber it’s fair game! From what I have read and heard the unit started from humble enough beginnings as a way to put an extra hop kick into a beer as it was being poured into the glass. But beer drinkers being the creative bunch that they are, it wasn’t long before other things began to sneak their way into it.
The system itself seems simple enough (although since you’re dealing with liquid under pressure I’m sure it’s not), the first chamber holds what ever you wish to infuse into your beer while the second chamber gives the infused beer time to settle to reduce foaming when poured. A cylinder around the second chamber allows ice to be added to keep the beer in it chilled until it is dispensed. And there’s a filter between to the two chambers – no floaties please!
I watched the bartender from my envious vantage point of “right in front of it” pour several glasses throughout the night and I can tell you that those baristas who make your coffee in the morning had nothing on this guy. He was working the system like a champ and the rewards were excellent.
Last night was Dogfish Head’s Theobroma (a beer brewed with Aztec cocoa powder and nibs, honey, chilies and annatto) over strawberries, shaved chocolate and vanilla beans creating what Two Stones called “a napoleon” after the popular ice cream trio. The shaved chocolate really popped the already chocolate tones in the Theobroma and the vanilla seemed to pull everything together. The strawberries were subtle but there, possibly over powered a bit by the already big brew. One of the interesting things about the randall is, depending on what you put into it and how well or how quickly it infuses into the beer – the beer can change throughout the night. The beer you get at 9pm might be completely different from the one you had at 7. Or if your timing is right, order the beer before it is installed and then save it (tough, I know) to compare with the beer coming out of the randall.
Past randall nights at Two Stones have seen:
21st Amendment Hop Crisis over Hawaiian Pinapple and Tahitian Vanilla Beans
Dogfish Head Festina Peche over local peaches and (yes, no kidding) Sour Patch Kids.
Victory Brewing Golden Monkey over bananas and walnuts.
As you can see you’re only limited by the beer you have on tap, and your own imagination. So next time you’re on a pub run, keep an eye out for my buddy randall hanging out around the bar. And if he’s there forget all that nonsense the commercials used to try and tell you about “not fruiting your beer” and give him a try. Maybe if you’re lucky after a few beers he’ll tell you how he got his nickname “the enamel animal”. Oh, and tell him I’ll see him next Wednesday will you? Thanks.
Have you had a beer through a randall before? And if so, what’s your favorite beer/randall combination?