Jim Lutz, CEO Fordham/Dominion Talks About The Brewery’s Involvement With AB InBev, Out With The OLD, and New Beers in 2015

This post has been quite a while coming. As you may or may not know the Brewer’s Association awhile back released a list of breweries in the US that did not meet their definition of “craft brewery”, and of course, a little uproar ensued.

For those of you who are not aware of this, or really don’t see why people should care, let me fill you in.

The Brewer’s Association is the self-appointed watch dog of all things “craft beer”. In order to be labeled a “craft brewer” you have to meet a number of requirements set out in a multi-part definition that they have put forth. Requirements such as barrel output (size), types of ingredients used, and ownership.

Now that last one might seem a little strange but indeed, it matters to many people (and to the Brewer’s Association) who owns breweries that are trying to pass themselves off as “craft” breweries. And by definition, if your “craft brewery” is owned more than 25% by an entity that is itself NOT a craft brewery, than by the trickle-down theory of zymurgnomics you are non-craft.

Although I feel that the 25% number is a bit arbitrary, the reasoning behind this stipulation is pretty straight forward. The Brewer’s Association does not want big corporations swooping in and buying smaller craft breweries, changing things around and then trying to continue to pass them off as “craft breweries” to the unsuspecting public.

Again, if you know nothing about this situation the whole thing may seem pretty odd, but believe me there are many evil specters in this world that want to infiltrate your favorite small brewery and then, while you sleep soundly at night, replace your brewery’s six-packs with six-packs made under the guise of your brewery, but having a big corporation taint about them. Kind of like a craft beer changeling if you will. They look like your beer, cost like your beer, hell they may even taste like your beer, but there are people out there who can sense their malevolent aura liquor stores away. Like how a mother always knows which baby is not hers.

Or at least that’s what some people would have you believe.

The problem with approaching this situation from this perspective is that not all ownership partnerships are created equal.

The beers produced by breweries like Magic Hat and Pyramid catch a lot of flak from the craft beer purists because they are now completely owned by a non-craft beer company. But are those same people going to show the same lack of loyalty concerning Breakfast Stout and Dirty Bastard, now that their cherished Founders Brewing recently sold a 30% stake in their brewery to Mexican company Mahou San Miguel? I’m willing to bet not.

[Author’s note: Since I wrote this article, AB snatched up Elysian Brewing to much outcry and now there are reports that they’re courting Cigar City]

And why should they? Although it is above the 25% limit the BA sets, 30% is far from a majority interest in the brewery. Add to that Founders co-founder and CEO Mike Stevens’ assurance to the craft beer world that “Founders will remain Founders”, and most people are probably willing to simply hold their breath and hope for the best.

And if nothing changes at Founders? Well isn’t that the more important concern we should be considering here? If Mahou San Miguel is willing to let the people at Founders run the brewery as they have in the past, does the ownership issue really matter? I guess it depends on your point of view.

Anyway, back to the list that the Brewer’s Association put out. I was of course curious to see who was on it, and see which aspect of the definition the offending brewery had broken (NOTE: Due to continued desire of the Brewer’s Association to not kick Sam Adams out of the sandbox, it’s never ‘size’). Of course, I never expected to see a brewery from Delaware on the list, let alone two. But there they were – Fordham Brewery and Old Dominion Brewery, under the umbrella company Coastal Brewing. Reason? “Brewery is owned 49% by AB InBev”.

What? That was news to me. Now granted, I wasn’t intimately familiar with the backgrounds of these two breweries (for clarification, while the breweries currently operate as separate entities with different packaging and portfolios, they share a single facility, brewing equipment, sales representatives and head brewer) but I never suspected that AB InBev had a large stake in their operations.

A quick internet search revealed that indeed, back in 2007 before the two breweries merged and moved to their current location in Dover, DE; Anheuser-Busch entered an agreement with the then Annapolis, MD based Fordham Brewing which did eventually give Anheuser-Busch (which hadn’t been bought up themselves yet) an apparent stake in the breweries. But I couldn’t find any reference or statements to back up the 49% asserted by the BA.

Not long after that, Fordham/Dominon Maryland representative Casey Hollingsworth tweeted that the breweries were not owned 49% by AB InBev and challenged the Brewer’s Association to “do their homework” (sadly I could not find this tweet using Twitter search to include in this post).

At that moment I thought, “Yeah, maybe someone should do that homework. And maybe that someone should be me.” But sadly, time passed and the idea of finding out what was really the truth concerning Coastal Brewing got pushed onto the back burner.  And I’ve seen it stated several times since, but when someone recently posted the statement in a Facebook Group, I decided it was time to see if I could get some clarification concerning the matter.

I reached out to Fordham/Dominion through their website, and Jim Lutz, President/CEO of Coastal Brewing agreed to take some time to talk to me about his company’s relationship with AB InBev and (more importantly to me) the conglomerate’s dealings with the everyday operations of his company. And to help clarify the situation as much as possible, Jim invited Ryan Telle, VP of marketing for Coastal Brewing to join in on the conversation.

Jim began by filling me in on the back story of how AB InBev first came to acquire a stake of Coastal Brewing. [Author’s Note: Some of this information is on the Old Dominion Brewery Wikipedia page, but the page information was incomplete and out of date. Not really knowing about the page, Jim and Ryan said they’d look into updating it and in fact, Ryan must be updating in now, because I’ve notice that changes have been made to it as I’m writing this].

Back in 2007, Fordham Brewing and Ram’s Head Taverns owner Bill Muhlhauser entered an agreement with Anheuser-Busch, which at that point, gave AB a 49% stake in the brewery plus control of the brewery’s distribution.

Bill then reached out to purchase Old Dominion Brewing which owner Jerry Bailey had been trying to sell since the mid-2000s. Once the transaction was complete, Muhlhauser found himself in ownership (along with other partners) of both breweries, with AB still having a stake in the companies as well as the distribution rights to the breweries’ beers. So where does that arrangement stand today?

“In-Bev’s current stake in the two breweries is less than 40%,” Jim related.

OK, it would have been nice if it had been below 25% so we could have killed this thing dead once and for all, but as I said above, what was more important to me was to find out what that truly meant to the day-to-day operations of Coastal Brewing.

Did they have input in the recipes that head-brewer Dan Lauder formulates for the two breweries, brewing philosophy, or marketing direction? What exactly is Coastal Brewing’s obligations to AB InBev because they have an approximately 40% stake in the company?

“We send them a financial report every month,” Jim stated.

Really? No quarterly meetings with AB Inbev where you have to present a ridiculously huge slide deck laying out all your business and marketing strategies for the coming year?

“In the years I’ve been here (Jim came over from Flying Dog in January of 2011) I’ve only met with the AB InBev people twice, both times in New York City. In fact, the two people I met with no longer work for AB InBev.”

So at the moment Jim wouldn’t know anyone from AB InBev if they walking into his office? “I wouldn’t know them from Adam.”

Ryan echoed that statement, “In the two years I’ve been here, I’ve never talked with anyone from AB inBev.”

Of course I really wanted to nail this point home so when I asked if an entity that owns close to 40% of a business operation doesn’t at least check in every now and then, the assurance was quick, “No.” Jim would then go on to add, “AB InBev has never stepped inside the brewery.”

In fact, since the years that have followed their initial agreement, Coastal has worked to distance themselves even further from AB InBev by reacquiring the distribution part of the business. “We now have the ability to go into any state and negotiate with all distributors until we find the one that we feel will serve us the best,” Jim said. “When we went into New Jersey, we chose a non-AB InBev distributor. When we pulled out of Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Alabama because we felt it didn’t make sense for us to be there, WE made that decision.”

I asked Jim how he felt about the Brewer’s Association and the fact that his breweries would never be considered craft under their current definitions. It was here that Jim’s passion for what Coastal Brewing has accomplished really came through. “I’m sure they have to draw a line for a definition. The managing board meets and they need to have a definition. It’s a shame. We pay our dues to the Brewer’s Association. We’ve won craft beer medals. We won a Gold medal in the 2014 World Beer Cup. We won a Silver medal at this year’s GABF. But if they don’t want to acknowledge us a ‘craft’ well…”

Winding up the interview I wanted to ask a few other questions that I myself was interested in knowing the answer to, after all it’s not every day I get to talk to the CEO and Marketing VP of one of Delaware’s major breweries. Having recently noticed some changes in the social media concerning the two breweries and the wording on the new packaging of one of the breweries, I asked if we had officially come to the time when we could drop the “OLD” from “Old Dominion.”

“Oh, yes,” Jim responded.

Ryan added, “We’ve recently consolidated the two brewery’s websites into one site. We’ve started using ‘FoDo’ as a marketing designation and everyone who works for us has it in front of their names on Twitter.”

So is there any chance of this on going consolidation including the two brewery’s portfolios in the future? “No, we’ll be keeping them separate as they are two different [brewing philosophies],” Jim replied. “Fordham is more sessionable, while Dominion is where we brew bolder beers.”

Regrettably, I walked away from this interview feeling less than totally satisfied. The bottom line is that until such time as the ownership agreement changes, Fordham and Dominion will not be considered “craft” by the Brewer’s Association. And that’s sad, because they are two fine breweries that in every other way, symbolize what it means to be a “craft brewer”.

But armed with the fact that AB InBev has no input into the day-to-day operations of the breweries, and that Fordham’s Rosie Parks Oyster Stout and Dominion’s Double D IPA are two of my favorite beers brewed in Delaware – that’s “craft” enough for me. Especially when you take into consideration that I’ve never liked using the word “craft” to describe a brewery anyway. But that’s another post.

I’d like to thank both Jim Lutz and Ryan Telle for taking some of their valuable time to talk to me.

Time for another beer…

Candi-ps
THE FINAL SIP: Coastal Brewing will be releasing two new beers this year. First, Fordham will be releasing Sun Seeker, a Hefewiesen, in the summer after which it will join their other year-round offerings. Second, we get a new Pin-up girl from Dominion! The sixth beer in the series, Hop Lips, will be an IPA that Jim describes as something more sessionable, but at the time of this article they’re still doing test batches so he couldn’t tell me much else about the beer. I look forward to trying them out!

 

Hogs and Hops Preview – 2013

Hogs and HopsLast year I had the pleasure of attending the first annual Hogs and Hops (H&H) beer event and BBQ competition hosted by Fordham Brewery and Old Dominion under the shadow of their brewery itself.  And it didn’t take but a couple of hours of sipping on a beer while walking through the rows of smokers, the aroma of hickory, apple and other smoke woods wafting in the breeze;  for this to become my favorite annual event.  Yeah, that’s right.  The event struck a chord with me almost immediately.

And apparently I wasn’t the only one.  Event founder Mark Hoffman organized what I’m sure he considered going into that Saturday to be a very successful event.   Hogs and Hops was designed as a combination beer event and competition BBQ whose proceeds benefited the local FOP’s emergency relief fund.   Twenty-four BBQ teams signed up to compete and advanced tickets sales were brisk, topping out at approximately 1000. So no doubt Mark was sure they had succeeded in generating a good buzz about the event.  Then suddenly (and admittedly not so suddenly) something happened.

exploded

The day of the event walk-up sales quickly reached the advanced sales, doubling the crowd and causing the event to outgrow its venue in the first year, which resulted in the competition being moved to the Delaware State Fairgrounds in Harrington.  The crowd consumed 44 half kegs of beer and made it obvious that more beer trucks would be needed to alleviate the long lines (although to be fair, I didn’t think they were that bad).  Not long after the event, Mark reached out to the Kansas City Barbecue Society (KCBS) and was able to get the event sanctioned as an official KCBS event, only the second such event in the state of Delaware.  Governor Markell then signed a proclamation back in May designating Hogs and Hops as a Delaware State Championship barbecue event, again only the second in the state.

This Saturday, marks the second annual Hogs and Hops and the event looks amazing.  The competition field has almost doubled to the event’s maximum (KCBS set the limit at 50), drawing BBQ competition teams from the Mid-Atlantic region and several from other parts of the US.  Fordham and Old Dominion are again supplying the beer this year, tapping Rams Head Ipa, Victory Lager, Copperhead Ale, Spiced Harvest Ale, Wisteria Wheat, Morning Glory Espresso Stout, Double D Ipa, Gigi’s Farmhouse Ale, Monk Czeck, Oak Barrel Stout, Octoberfest and for the kids and designated drivers, Old Fashioned Root Beer.  Because of regulations, the people’s choice award got shelved (hopefully only for this year), but VIP ticket holders will still get a chance to try competition BBQ in the form of food presented by Milford, Delaware competition team Mr. BAR-B-QUE.

But they aren’t the only team representing Delaware this weekend (some teams had very little if any website or social media presence so if I’ve inadvertently missed someone, I’m sorry).  TFFBBQ (Wilmington), Big Bang BBQ (also Wilmington, last year’s H&Hs 1st in ribs and 2nd overall), Slower Lower BBQ (Milton), Pigheaded BBQ (Middletown), Gone Hoggin’ (Bear, who I’ll be rooting for because in their Bios they list their favorite competition food as “beer”) along with That Guy BBQ and Rub Me Tender BBQ (both from Smyrna) will be hoping to cook their way into H&H’s first Grand Championship.  And why not?  The highest scoring team from Delaware will be named Delaware BBQ Team of the Year by the Mid-Atlantic BBQ Association (MABA).  On top of that, due to the sanctioning by the KCBS and Governor Markell’s proclamation, the Hogs and Hops winner (regardless of state) will represent Delaware at the Jack Daniels World Championship Invitational in Lynchburg, Tenn.  Well not this year.  And maybe not next year.  Or the next.

See, as I said Hogs and Hops is the second KCBS event and the second Delaware State Championship barbecue event.  The first is the Middletown BBQ Cook-Off which just celebrated its fourth year and attracts over 50 competition teams.  Because of its solo State Championship status over the last three years (as well as this year, I guess they figured it wasn’t fair to do it this year since Markell signed the proclamation only weeks before the winner of Middletown was crowned) the winner of the Middletown Cook-Off was the undisputed representative of Delaware at Lynchburg.  But starting next year, the winning teams from Middletown and Hogs and Hops will compete for the honor of representing our state.  What will that competition entail?  I don’t know right now, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it involves some large chunks of meat and some smoke.

One person who is probably very aware of the situation is David Marks, owner of the Famous Dave’s BBQ Restaurant franchise and pitmaster for Wilbur’s Revenge BBQ Team, this year’s Middletown Grand Champion.  Dave’s team will be on hand at Hogs and Hops and no doubt would love to walk away with a second Grand Championship, a claim to the undisputed Delaware BBQ Champion title (that doesn’t exist but it should!) and set the tone for next year’s round of competitions.

But he’s not the only big dog in the yard.  There’s a lot of great teams in the field this year, including 3 EYZ BBQ (2012 KCBS and MABA Team of the Year, current MABA points leader for 2013 Team of the Year) led by Dan Hixon; two time Pennsylvania State Champions LO’ N SLO’ BBQ led by Tom Perelka; and Hawg Nation (Pennsylvania state brisket champions three years running and MABA Team of the Year for brisket in 2012) led by Michael Czajka.

Sadly, it looks like last year's winners Alpha-Q-Up will not be returning to defend their title.
Sadly, it looks like last year’s winners Alpha-Q-Up will not be returning to defend their title.

So Saturday I’ll be strolling around rows of smokers again.  The smell of smoke wood permeating the air (and my hair, it will probably take a shower or two to get it all out), sipping on a cold beer and discussing BBQ with some very knowledgeable competitive pitmasters (we’ve been asked to hold back from talking with the competitors this  year until 3:00 due to the later turn in time from last year.  I have a suspicion that the real party will start at 3:15).  It probably would inspire me to do a little smoking myself on Sunday, if my smoker hadn’t nearly collapsed to the deck during my last smoking session.

But that’s another post.

Good luck to all the competitors on Saturday, I’m sure you’ll do Delaware proud.  And to Mark, Fordham and Old Dominion Breweries, all the volunteers and sponsors; thanks again for putting on an amazing event. See you there!

THE SIX-PACK PROJECT: DELAWARE

6pp

Delaware.  Or as some people like to joke, DelaWHERE?  My own  little 2,490 square mile slice of craft beer USA that a lot of people just can’t seem to figure out.  A bizarre contour that allows me to visit three other states (NJ, MD, PA) by traveling only 20 minutes from where I live, but yet I could get to Max’s Taphouse in Baltimore to enjoy a DFH beer quicker than I could drive down to the brewpub in Rehobeth to drink one (and depending on traffic, some days I could make Blind Tiger in NYC faster as well).  The state that brought you George Thorogood,  Dallas Green,  “Sugar Ray” Leonard, Valerie Bertinelli, our current Vice-President Joe Biden (I leave you to decide if you should be thanking us for that), and more Du Ponts than you can fling a Teflon frying pan at.

I would tell people all the time that from a craft beer perspective, Delaware was a pretty great place to live.  Washington, Baltimore and NYC with all their breweries and craft beer bars are only day trips away.  Pennsylvania has a nice collection of brewers dotted over its south-east corner, all within a short distance.  But within the last 15 or so years, Delaware has been slowly building into to craft beer force of its own.  We now claim home to industry giant Dogfish Head, to Argilla Brewing, which head brewer Steve Powell started in a family pizza business with a 1.5 barrel system – to everything in between.

Oh, we’ve stumbled along the way.  Marty Haugh worked hard to get the laws changed in Delaware so that he could open up the state’s first microbrewery Rockford Brewing, only to see the business not take hold, and sadly eventually close.  Brandywine Brewing flourished for awhile, even opening a second location in the heart of Wilmington only to eventually fall by the way side.  Downtown Brewing came and went.

But as the resurgence of craft beer began, establishments did start to take a major foot hold.  Stewarts Brewing survived and still enjoys a healthy business today,  recently celebrating their 18th birthday.  Iron Hill started what would soon become a 9 location mini-chain in Newark.  Old Dominion and Fordham joined forces to become a major brewing entity in Dover.  Twin Lakes, Evolution and 16-Mile all opened and remain active.  And when Evolution stepped over the state line into Maryland, 3rd Wave filled the void it created, literally moving into Evolution’s old building.  And right now, Mispillion River and Smokestack Lightening are working hard at their start-up breweries.

Yes, I think from a craft beer perspective Delaware is a pretty nice place to live.  So when Bryan over at This Is Why I’m Drunk asked me to participate in his Six-Pack Project, I gladly accepted.  The format is very simple.   I’m tasked with creating a “Delaware Craft Beer” six-pack.  The beers should best represent Delaware brewing and her culture.  I can only select shelf product – meaning no keg-only beers.  The shelf product can be any form or size I wish.  Current seasonals are OK, but in general they’re discouraged.  Sound easy?  Let’s find out.

dfh90
PHOTO: The Dogs of Beer

FIRST – 90 Minute IPA, DOGFISH HEAD BREWERY

Ok, I know what you’re thinking “well of course he’s going to include DFH”.  Guilty, although I’m going with this beer for a reason.  Delaware is know as the “First State”, and Delawareans hold that description very dearly.  It was the first state to ratify the United States Constitution (which is where the nickname comes from), it was the first state to fly the Stars and Strips, held the first beauty contest, introduced the first Christmas Seals, passed the first Coastal Zone Act and (to my knowledge) the first state to tell another state to go F*@& itself (sorry PA, nothing but love for you).

So with that in mind, any discussion of Delaware beer should include  Shelter Pale Ale, as it was the first beer brewed by Sam Calagione at his Rehoboth Beach brewpub.  But sadly, DFH apparently  not longer bottles Shelter Pale Ale, which is fine because I want to talk about 90 Minute IPA anyway.  Although it seems a little backwards, 90M IPA proceeded it’s thirty minute shorter brother 60M IPA onto the market by two years, making it the first (there’s that word again) in what would be DFH’s continuously hopped series.   The concept that started it was simple, continually introduce hops throughout the 90 minute boil.  Oh, and just to keep the theme going, have it clock in at 90 IBUs and 9.0%ABV.  The fact that this beer has a mixture of hops continuously added to it for 90 minutes (plus dry hopping) would make one think that this thing is just hop water.  Don’t buy it.  Not for a second.  It is…ah, I don’t want to say it…hop forward, with notes of citrus and resin in the nose and flavor.  But there’s enough malt to balance everything out, and dangerously hide the 9% ABV.  I’ve always thought the continuously hopped beers had a smoothness to them.  A mouth feel on the palette that borders on creamy.  There’s a slight hop prick (which is about four notches below a burn) in the cheeks and a crisp, lingering finish.   An IPA lovers IPA .

responders
MASH UP: The Dogs of Beer

SECOND – RESPONDERS ALE, 16-MILE BREWERY

One of the beliefs the Brewer’s Association has about craft breweries is that “Craft brewers tend to be very involved in their communities through philanthropy, product donations, volunteerism, and sponsorship of events.

In this regard Delaware Craft Breweries (along with beer bars) excel.

– Fordam/Old Dominion partner every year for Hogs and Hops which last year raised $15,000 for the local FOP’s emergency relief fund.
Argilla Brewing partnered with BELVEDERE FIRE CO during their Fall Festival to help raise funds for the local fire company.
– Twin Lakes host The Wilmington Burger Battle which benefits the Emmanuel Dining Room a local program that feeds the needy.
– Two Stones Pub hosts the “Giving on Tap” which benefits the local Meals on Wheels program.

In that tradition I offer you Responders Ale.  Brewed by 16-Mile Brewery (which gets its name because it’s Georgetown location is 16 miles from anywhere in the county it resides in) an English styled ale with a touch of wheat that is clean and drinkable, with notes of hay and citrus.  I’m not going to lie, this beer isn’t going to blow you away with it’s light biscuit/cracker base and mild, but balance hops, but it’s nicely constructed, and has a very pleasant aftertaste.   In the spirit of the BA’s statement, $3 from every case and $5 from every keg of Responders Ale is donated to the National Fallen Fire Fighers Foundation.

Greenville
PHOTO: The Dogs of Beer

THIRD – GREENVILLE PALE ALE, TWIN LAKES BREWERY

With the Wilmington Blue Rocks minor league baseball team, The University of Delaware football team, and two major NASCAR events; Delawareans are no strangers to tailgating.  And although we may not be spoken in the same breath as Kansas City, Memphis, etc; we’re no slouches when it comes to the backyard cookout or barbecue either.

But as everyone knows, when you get your friends together for some grill/cookout type food, you should have a good beer to go with it.  Enter Greenville Pale Ale.  The beer, brewed with American 2-row along with cascade hops presents itself as a pretty straight forward pale ale, but has a slight spiciness that I think makes it an awesome food beer, whether you’re serving hotdogs, burgers, crabs, shrimp, or pulled pork.  It’s probably not going to go toe-to-toe with huge, deep BBQ sauces, but really, does it need to?  Sometimes you just need something to cleanse your palette with before your next bite of ribs or BBQ chicken.   I’ll admit, I’ve been drinking the crap out of this beer all summer.  Twin Lakes was also nice enough to package Greenville in the tailgate friendly can.  Bottle snob?  Get over it.

FOURTH – BEACH HOUSE GOLDEN PILSNER, OLD DOMINION BREWING COMPANY

DEpostcard
MASH UP: The Dogs of Beer

Ok, so I’m going to cross into Bryan’s “it’s OK, but I really wish you wouldn’t” territory.  But I think with good reason.  It’s summer as I write this, and in Delaware summer for many people means one thing – beaches.  Every weekend all summer long, thousands of people brave the congestion that is “beach traffic” to claim their own small spot on our sandy shores – whether it’s in Rehoboth, Bethany, Dewey or Lewes.  Many go for the sunshine and salt water, many go for the night life, and some just go for the Grotto Pizza (where Tracey slaved her summer, college youth away), Thrashers Fries and Snyders Candy.

And of course, everyone needs a good beach beer.  Why not Old Dominion Brewing’s Beach House Golden Pilsner?  A Bohemian style Pilsner, brewed with Tettanger, Perle, and Saaz hops, this beer has an awesome crispness in the back that is really the highlight.  The nose is subdued, with a slight touch of grassy hops and what comes across to me as honey.  The malt is there, light, almost bready.  Plainly said, this is a rock solid pilsner, and is a perfect beer for washing the beach heat out of your mouth.  It probably would also go well with a slice of Grotto’s pizza.

FIFTH – ROSIE PARKS OYSTER STOUT, FORDHAM BREWERY

If Stouts represented the Baldwin family of actors, than the oyster stouts would be the youngest (the first record of oysters used in the brewing a stout was until 1929) brother Stephen.   Good, serviceable, and for some reason someone that no one thinks of until they see him and go, “oh yeah”.  Many people cringe at this style and really shouldn’t.   When done properly oyster stouts are smoother, less dry than their well known brothers and are just a pleasure to drink.  And Fordham’s is done properly.

Rosie Parks (which is named after a legendary skipjack that once dredged for oysters on the Chesapeake Bay) is built on a grain bill of CaraMunich, Wheat, Chocolate, and Roast; and hopped with Bravo and Glacier.  Rosie is pure smooth drinking from front to back, with light chocolate and (even lighter) roasted notes, along with that kiss of mineral that comes from the added oyster shells.  The finish is clean and not bitter (24 IBUs) and the after taste is simply a slight roastiness.  This is one of my favorite styles of beer and I happen to know that it’s also a favorite of Michael Stiglitz, owner of Two Stones Pub.  So I think that puts me in good company.  The skipjack Rosie Parks is currently being renovated by the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum.

Rosie
PHOTO: The Dogs of Beer

And that leaves me with one more.  Oh yeah, I could give you another DFH beer, but let’s be honest, if you ever get to my little state they will probably be on your list anyway (and to that end I recommend Theobroma, Hellhound on My Ale, Chateau Jiahu, and any of the continuously hopped beers, especially 120-Minute if you can find it).  So instead I’m going to suggest a beer that you might actually walk past, but definitely should not.

SIX – Old Dominion’s Double D IPA

double D
MASH UP: The Dogs of Beer

A while back, Old Dominion released a beer called GiGi’s Farmhouse Ale.  The beer was only distributed in 22oz bottles and as a nod of these size bottles being known as “bomber bottles”, OD’s label artwork payed homage to the old pin-up woman and bomber-nose paintings of World War Two.  Soon, Double D IPA and Morning Glory (an espresso stout) joined the line up.  The beers were so well received that OD released Double D and Morning Glory in 12oz six-packs, and later bottled GiGi’s in 12oz bottles to include it with the other two as part of a “Pin-up 12-pack”.  GiGi’s will be replaced in September with Candi, a Belgian Tripel.

Double D IPA is built on Pale, Munich and Chocolate Malts, and hopped with Zythos, Crystal, Citra and Bravo.  The beer has a light floral/grapefruit nose.  The taste is well balanced, with the hops slightly out front, but it’s probably close enough to be a photo finish.  The hops are again grapefruity, a touch of rind, and some pine that builds up after a bit.   The 90 IBUs gives you a light kiss at the end, but nothing harsh, or creepy.  Double D manages to hide it’s 10% ABV pretty well.  So mark her “D” for dangerous.

Double D is solidly constructed and a damn fine IPA.  If you get a chance to pass through our state, don’t miss the chance to pick her and her sisters up.  You’ll be glad you did.

I’d like to thank Bryan for asking me to be a participant in his Six-Pack Project.  It was a lot of fun and I look forward to seeing what everyone else has written about their respective states.  If you’re new to my blog, I hope you stick around.  I will be focusing on Dogfish Head beers all through August.  If not, thanks for stopping by anyway, and I encourage you to check out the rest of this month’s Six-Pack contributors:

As well as those who have contributed to the project already:

Time for another beer.

Brew Review – Dominion Brewing’s Baltic Porter

There’s an old Irish sing-along song entitled “Mary Mac” which has the following verse:

Now Mary and her mother go an awful lot together
In fact you hardly see the one with out the other
People wonder if it is Mary or her mother
Or the pair of them together that I’m courtin’

The confusion alluded to in the above verse can somewhat apply to two Delaware breweries that seem to go an awful lot together; Fordham Brewing and Old Dominion Brewing.  As the verse says, you do hardly see one with out the other, in the proper settings that is.  You’ll almost always see Fordham and Dominion sharing a tent at local festivals.  And this isn’t a coincidence or plot concocted by the people who do the tent assignments; no, the two breweries actually share a permanent common tent.

In fact at the recent Hogs and Hops event at Fordham Brewery, they had a beer truck with Fordham taps on one side and Dominion taps on the other.  Luckily Old Dominion didn’t have that far to bring their beers, they just brought them out of the Fordham brewery, where they brew them.  Or is it the other way around?  No wonder I get the question, “are they the same brewery?” every now and then.

The answer is simple (I think), according to WIKI, Jerry Bailey founded Old Dominion in 1989, and sold it in 2007 to Fordham Brewery financed in part by Anheuser-Busch, forming the umbrela company Coastal Brewing.  Leading up to 2009, both breweries consolidated operation, closed certain unprofitable operations and moved into a new facility in Dover, Delaware.   The fall out of all this was that several brands brewed by Old Dominion including Tuppers’ Hop Pocket and multiple GABF medal winner New River Pale Ale were ceased.  Jim Lutz (former VP of sales and marketing at Flying Dog Brewery of Frederick, MD), took over as the new President and CEO of Coastal Brewing in 2011 and has been over seeing the breweries every since.

But that’s where the connection ends.  Both breweries run separate social media sites and focus on unique brands marketing them independently of each other.  In this review we’ll focus on one of those offerings, Old Dominion Brewing’s winter brew, Baltic Porter.  Let’s taste.

THEMBaltic Porter is built on German Pilsner, Crystal and Dark Specialty malts.  A “touch” of rye is added to round out the grain bill.  The brewery doesn’t state what hops are used for bitterness or give any other information about the beer besides ABV, but interestingly the bottle does give this description “Baltic Porter is a bottom-fermented lager…”.   Traditionalists would rail at this, but the practice has been common post-prohibition amongst large US breweries whose beers are largely bottom yeast based.  In fact, some breweries use additives like Siminar (a dark cereal extract) or porterine (an additive which Yuengling was suspected of using in its Porter) to darken lighter recipes to get a “porter” or “dunkel” style beer.  Since Old Dominion specifies Dark Specialty malts in their recipe, I doubt that the brewery is using any of this devil-witchery on Baltic Porter.  As for the use of lager yeast, well I’ll leave that to the style police to debate.

ME:  The beer pours dark with a nice tan colored head.  The nose is light, with a nice malt profile as well as a hint of chocolate.  The first sip displays a nice mouth feel with some nice chocolate and toffee flavors up front, and ending in a clean finish.  After a bit, the beer began to leave a pleasant stickiness in my mouth that helped round out the experience while drinking.  I didn’t get any hint of the dryness you usually get from rye in this beer, but I’m sure it adds to the balance of flavor in some respect.

There really isn’t much to say about this beer, which I think is to its benefit.  Dominion resisted the urge to take their “winter brew” down the road of over stuffed, candy spiced confections that so many breweries line the shelves with this time of year; and just brewed a descent porter.  It may not be as big as some of the other Baltic porters out there, but with its depth of flavor and 6.8% ABV, Baltic Porter is certainly no wall flower either.  It is an accessible,  very drinkable beer  you could easily enjoy next to fire on a cold winter’s night.

Time for another beer.

Four Must Visit Tents at The Delaware Wine and Beer Festival

This Sunday marks the third annual Delaware Wine and Beer Festival, and they’ve managed to put together an amazing collection of breweries, wineries and food venues that highlight their theme, “Drink Local, Eat Local, Buy Local”.  The five hour event gives attendees plenty of time to stop at every tent and with tickets for 10 free tastes everyone should have the opportunity to try the beer and wines that intrest them.  That being said, I thought I’d give a run down of four tents I’ll be making sure I spend a little extra time at.

3rd Wave Brewing

When Evolution Brewing moved from Delmar Delaware across the state line into Maryland, they left both a figurative and literal hole in the Delaware craft beer scene.  Lori Clough and Suellen Vickers didn’t let that hole sit for very long, as they acquired the facility and set up 3rd Wave Brewing.  They then hired head brewer John Panasiewicz from Iron Hill Brewery and got busy making beer.  They officially opened for business on August 29th to an enthusiastic welcome from the surrounding community and have started to make their presence know in the craft beer arena.  I think it’s fitting that the newest Delaware brewery makes its debut appearance at the Delaware Wine and Beer Festival.

Legacy Distilling

I first got introduced to what will become Delaware’s first stand alone distillery at Fordham Brewing’s Hogs and Hops event in August.  Ron Gomes and Mike Rasmussen started to form the ground work for their company as soon as Delaware passed the law that allowed distilleries.  Since then, they’ve found a home in Smyrna, Delaware and have been working on finalizing a location.  Mike and Ron won’t be pouring samples on Sunday, but they will be happy to answer any questions about what to expect in the future from this exciting new venture.  They’ll also be having a free raffle to give away a prize package including a future tour of their facility, a bottle of their spirits and other great items.

Great Shoals Winery

Although this award winning producer of sparkling style wines operates out of Princess Anne, MD, they have a very strong tie to the state of Delaware.  When the winery was looking for an apple variety to use for a new addition to their sparkling cider line, they were happily surprised to discover that the Smith family farm in Bridgeville, DE was not only growing first class cider apples, but among the varieties they were growing was one that Great Shoals was very interested in – the Black Twig.  The result of this discovery is T.S. Smith’s Black Twig Hard Apple, a European style dry sparkling cider.  We can’t wait to try this award winning cider which has been officially recognized as “Delaware’s First Hard Cider”. (Also keep an eye out for their multi-award winning Spencerville Red Hard Apple Cider.)

GABF Award Winners

Yeah OK, I’m cheating here.  Hopefully this weekend will give you a great opportunity to try two recent (just last week as a matter of fact) Great American Beer Fest medal winners.  First, Old Dominion Brewery will hopefully be pouring their Oktoberfest which won a bronze medal in the German-Style Marzen catagory.  Second, out-of-state favorites Yard’s Brewing will hopefully be bringing their bronze medal winning ESB.  I have no idea which beers these breweries WILL be pouring on Sunday, but I’m hoping to get a chance try these two again.

Of course these are just a few of the great breweries and wineries that will be in attendance at the DWaBF.  Make sure you stop at the other great tents of Argilla Brewing Company, 16 Mile Brewery, Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Fenwick Wine Cellars, Harvest Ridge Winery, Nassau Valley Vineyards, Pizzadili Winery & Vineyards, Twin Lakes Brewery, and Unplugged & Uncorked — Sonata Wines.

And don’t forget the food!  Abbott’s Grill, Milford, Chops Grille, Maple Dale Country Club, McGlynn’s Pub & Restaurant and The Pizza Wagon will be on hand to make sure you don’t get too hungry during the afternoon.

Have a great time at the Delaware Wine and Beer Festival!  See you there!