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A Trip to Dogfish Head

Beer Travels October 29, 2003      
Written by jeffc666

Fairfax, VIRGINIA -

My brother Jason (unclebleen on the site) and I embarked from my house in Fairfax, VA at 4:10PM on 10/17/2003. I will skip the gory details of the almost 5 hour drive that should normally only take 2 ½ hours. Suffice to say it was not fun. We arrived in Rehoboth Beach and checked into the Crosswinds Motel which is located 3 doors down from Dogfish Head, a very easy stumble from Dogfish.

At the door we were greeted by Dogfish President and owner Sam Calagione. We introduced ourselves then Sam immediately took us up to the bar and poured us each a glass of their freshly brewed Oyster Stout. This is an Oyster Stout in the truest sense of the word. They take 300 lbs of Oysters from Martha’s Vineyard, steam them open, then the already brewed stout is poured directly over the Oysters. The beer was magnificent. It perfectly captured the essence of the oysters and the sea. It was slightly salty and very drinkable. Don’t put it past DFH to someday bottle this fine brew.

Sam then showed off his pride and joy, the mini-brewery. This is where Sam and his other brewers test out all of their crazy ideas, as well as brew many of their draft only beers. The brewery was very small and very homegrown looking. It looked as if the only things in use that were specifically meant for brewing were the aging tanks. The boil kettles and everything else looked very much improvised. Sam told us that he only brews out of this brewery and leaves the brewing of all their standard stuff (as if anything they brew is standard) to the brewers at the main Brewery in Milton, DE. We then got a table right by the stage in preparation for the next phase of our visit.
After we were seated our waitress brought us over a flight of samples courtesy of Sam. The beers in the flight were: Shelter Pale Ale, Lawnmower Light, Indian Brown Ale, Chicory Stout, and the Raison d’Être. Sam told us that the Raison d’Être was an experimental batch brewed with a new yeast strain. The beer definitely had a more sour character then other samples of Raison d’Être either of us have had. All the other brews were brand new for diegogator so he was in rating nirvana. I had rated all before but that did not prevent me from enjoying them all the same. Now it was time to choose what from the varied menu to eat.

I ordered fish and chips and diegogator ordered the burger. The fish and chips were the best we have ever had, big pieces of white fish with a beautifully spiced luscious beer batter. The burger was served on focaccia bread, which neither of us favors, but it was still quite good. The burger had a nice smoky flavor and was served with the same fries that were served with the fish and chips. The fries were excellent. They tasted as if they were from fresh potatoes rather than frozen and were obviously cooked in high quality oil that was plenty hot enough as the fries were not overly greasy or soggy. With dinner, of course, we each had beer.

I had the 90 minute IPA and diegogator finished off the flight of samples. The 90 minute IPA on draft is an otherworldly experience. It is very close to the perfect amped-up session beer. After dinner we ordered another round of 90 minute IPAs. That beer is so good it is hard to deviate and order something else. Right about the time the second round arrived, the band, Soul Kitchen from Philadelphia, PA, started playing. They were a sextet consisting of a drums, tenor sax, trumpet, electric bass, acoustic guitar, keyboards, and vocals. As far as unknown bands go they were decent. They played mainly originals with only a few covers. Soul Kitchen played until about 12:10AM giving us plenty of time to keep drinking the excellent DFH beers. By the end of the evening we had consumed:
<li>5 pints of 90 Minute IPA</li>
<li>1 pint of 60 Minute IPA</li>
<li>1 pint of ApriHop</li>
<li>2 snifters of the Oyster Stout</li>
<li>1 snifter of Immort Ale</li>
<li>1 flight of samples as mentioned above</li>

Oh yeah we also bought Sam’s rap CD, The Pain Relievaz. I kid you not.

Upon leaving DFH at 12:20AM we decided to walk down to the beach since neither of us had ever seen the Delaware beaches before. On our walk down to the beach we were accosted by a drunken lady and her sister. The drunken lady insisted (unfortunately for both of us) on showing us how James Ingram (who is apparently an R&B artist) signed her ass, and no I am not kidding. It was cold and windy at the beach, but it made us both think of that Oyster Stout we had earlier, yum.

Back to the motel which is a perfectly acceptable motel, sleep, and drive back to Fairfax, VA. Yes we hit more traffic and it took almost twice as long as expected but it was worth it we also had plenty of time to listen to the Pain Relievaz CD we bought at the pub. The Dogfish Head Brewery and Eats is a worthwhile stop in anyone’s pursuit of great beer brewed by great people.



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start quote It perfectly captured the essence of the oysters and the sea. end quote