About The Beer: Dogfish Head Bitches Brew is a very special beer indeed. As documented on the new Discovery Channel show Brew Masters this beer was brewed by the Delaware brewers in collaboration with the estate of Miles Davis to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the release of Davis’ landmark album Bitches Brew. (more…)
Every fall countless pumpkin beers are released. With all the beers out there to choose from it can be tough to know which one to enjoy. To solve this problem last week the Beeriety crew conducted a blind taste test of 16 popular pumpkin beers. We were hoping to see what beer would emerge as the group favorite when labels, brands and preconceptions were removed. We had a blast, and learned a lot about pumpkin beer in the process. (more…)
Today’s post comes to us courtesy of contributor Sarah. Thanks Sarah!
It may seem like a waste of perfectly good beer to use it in soaps, skin-care, and hair treatments, but beer as a beauty treatment is possibly as old as beer as a drink. Beer was used topically by Greeks, Babylonians, and Egyptians, to soften skin and even cure wounds and irritations. In fact, many of the same qualities that make beer good for your insides also make it pretty good for your outsides. Consequently, a number of spas offer beer baths, beer facials and beer hair treatments; cosmetic companies like UK-based company LUSH market beer-based products; and even breweries themselves, like Magic Hat and Dogfish Head, use their own brew to make soaps and shampoos.
So what can beer do for you when you’re not busy drinking it?
Skin: Beer is rich in vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants, and amino acids, so it makes sense that it would improve skin’s quality and luster. But the most active ingredient for improving skin might be the yeast. Brewers yeast can help balance the pH of skin and regulate the production of sebum (your skin’s natural oil,) making it ideal for treating acne-prone and dry skin. Much as it does in the beer itself, yeast kills bacteria on the skin’s surface (helping to fight breakouts) while enzymes gently exfoliate dead, dry skin without any harsh abrasion (perfect for drier or sensitive skin.) German skin care company Dayenne has made a business of this; nearly all of their products contain some amount of brewer’s yeast. Likewise, it’s tradition for spas in Eastern Europe to offer a number of beer treatments, from beer-baths to masks made from beer and certain raw ingredients of beer – crushed hops, malt, honey, etc. The trend is beginning to take off in the states but is still just getting started.
But never fear – you can easily make your own beer bath by adding your favorite brew to the bath water, or you can try making your own moisturizing beer mask at home.
Hair: Beer has been a home-remedy for dull and frizzy hair for ages, but it can work as a reparative treatment for nearly every hair type. Beer is extremely rich in amino acids, which help improve hair follicles and coat and repair each strand of hair. This makes it ideal for damaged, color-treated or fly-away/frizzy hair which needss that coating to look smooth and sleek. But it can also add texture, body and volume, which makes it great for finer, thinner hair. In addition, the hops present in beer can help treat scalp irritations, dandruff, and may even encourage hair growth/re-growth. LUSH offers two options for trying out beer in the hair: Cynthia Sylvia Stout Shampoo and The Strokes Conditioning Hair Treatment, both of which are made with organic Irish stout and bumped up with and an additional dose of brewer’s yeast. You can also check out Dogfish Head’s solid shampoo bar made with their Shelter Pale Ale.
If you want to do it yourself, you have a number of options: the simplest is of course just to pour a beer into your hair in between shampooing and conditioning, letting it sit for a few minutes before you rinse. But there are also numerous recipes for making treatments, shampoos, etc. Just pick your favorite brew and get started at Ehow.com
Tune in Thursday for part 2 of Sarah’s look at beer & health.
Barrel-aging is nothing new in the world of wine and liquor; aging beer in barrels, however, is a relatively new practice that’s gaining in popularity. Today, we’re going to take a look at how it works and some barrel-aged beers that everyone should try.
Beer is usually placed in barrels for aging after primary fermentation is complete and before it has been carbonated. A variety of barrels can be used, but brewers frequently use barrels which have previously held wine or liquor. After anywhere from several months to several years in a barrel, the beer will absorb some of the flavors and aromas left over from the wine or liquor. Then, the beer will be carbonated and bottled for your drinking enjoyment.
The barreling process adds additional complexity to the taste and aroma of a beer. Sometimes a brewer will simply age an existing beer he has in his (or her) repertoire, but many of the more adventurous will craft a recipe specially suited to benefit from the barreling process. This could be an extra malty brew that will blend well with the sweet flavors of rum or a crisp light beer that will complement the light flavors of a chardonnay.
However it is done, barrel-aged beer is an exciting area that craft brewers are exploring with enthusiasm and passion. Be sure to try one if you haven’t yet. Some of our favorites include:
Stone Brewing Co. Oaked Arrogant Bastard – The barrel-aged version of Stone’s infamous Arrogant Bastard. Trying this alongside the regular version would be a good introduction to how barrels can enhance beer.
Brooklyn Brewery Manhattan Project – This beer was a collaboration between Brooklyn Brewery and David Wondrich, drinks editor of Esquire magazine. It was aged in rye whiskey barrels for a wonderfully smoky aroma and taste.
Allagash Curieux – Aged in Jim Beam barrels for 8 weeks, this one is a must try.
Dogfish Head Burton Baton – A fantastically complex yet still light ale with notes of oak and vanilla.
Smuttynose Brewing Oaked Tripel Penetration – A great twist on a traditional Belgian style tripel. The heavy oak notes blended well with the light flavors of a tripel.
Recently the Beeriety crew went down to Providence, RI to attend the first Beervana Beer Festival in the Roger Williams Park Botanical Center. There was a lot of beer to try, and a lot of fun was had by all.
The most striking thing about this beer festival was its location. The botanical gardens were a far cry from the usual convention halls in which most beer festivals take place. The high glass and metal ceilings and the plethora of large and exotic plant life made it feel like a beer festival in the bio-dome. The environment was fun, even if the winding layout made it tough at times to find your favorite brewer. All of the glass and metal didn’t absorb much of the noise of 500 chatty beer lovers either, which made talking to the various brewers a bit of challenge at times.
Of course, the beer and not the location was the reason we went down to Providence, and on that front, Beervana was a rousing success. Over 20 different brewers and importers offered a huge variety of different brews, including many that weren’t available anywhere else. There were many different beers to try, but the ones which stood out most in our minds were the scotch ales and other liquor-inspired offerings.
Here’s a breakdown of some of our favorites:
Newport Storm Rum-Chipped Marzen- This was a traditional German marzen brewed with chips from an oak barrel which had been used to age rum. (The chips were strained out before bottling.) The sweet, warm flavors of the rum imparted a subtle vanilla taste to this beer.
Brooklyn Brewery Manhattan Project- This beer was a collaboration between Brooklyn Brewery and David Wondrich, drinks editor of Esquire magazine. It was aged in rye whiskey barrels for a wonderfully smoky aroma and taste.
Berkshire Brewing Company Wood-aged Scotch Ale- Another great, barrel-aged scotch ale with a powerful aroma matched only by its alcoholic strength.
Samuel Smith Stingo- This classic Yorkshire brewery unveiled their latest creation, which was aged in oak barrels for over a year before bottling. The oak blended nicely with the buttery flavors from Sam Smith’s house yeast.
Smuttynose Brewing Oaked Tripel Penetration- A great twist on a traditional Belgian style tripel. The heavy oak notes blended well with the light flavors of a tripel.
In addition to all of the great beer, there were special guest speakers. Rob Tod, founder of Allagash Brewing Co., spoke about barrel aged beer. Sam Calagione, founder of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, spoke about his special ancient ales project. Both speakers attracted large crowds, but it was no surprise to see that Calagione drew the biggest audience, as he’s known throughout the craft brew world for his blunt nature.
All and all, it was a great time and a well organized event, especially for a festival in its first year. If you’re in the area next year, be sure to check out Beervana.
As we discussed recently, pumpkin beer is by far one of the most popular beers of the fall. Each autumn countless brewers from the smallest craft brewer to the big guys over at Anheuser-Busch release their own take on this seasonal style. With so many different pumpkin beers out there to choose from the task of which one to have next time you’re at your local pub can be a bit daunting. In order to find your favorite pumpkin beer you certainly could simply try a full pint of each brewery’s version of pumpkin beer. With so many out there though that process could take you right through the fall and into winter and spring. A more manageable approach to becoming familiar with a style might be to try a flight.
A flight is several smaller portions of a beer served at the same time, typically four or five glasses containing 4 or 5 ounces each. It’s a great way to try several beers at once without investing a whole night’s worth of drinking, or the money associated with it.
Although still fairly uncommon, many beer bars will offer flights of their draft offerings in any combination of your choosing. One such place here in Boston is Sunset Bar & Grill, where Team Beeriety recently ventured to try some of this year’s pumpkin’s ales. This style typically fall into two schools: beers which taste like actual pumpkins, and beers which taste like pumpkin pie. Although beer which replicates the taste of real pumpkins is generally more difficult and sometimes more respected by beer snobs out there, both types can be wonderful and a great way to celebrate the fall.
Our flights consisted of four beers:
1. Clipper City The Great Pumpkin - At 8.5% Alc./volume this one packs a punch, but with its balanced flavors you’d never notice how strong it is.
2. Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin - Another great brew with subtle notes of nutmeg mixed with roasted pumpkin
4. Wolavers Organic Pumpkin - While this one was a bit sweet, we applaud the effort to make it organic which is tough for many brewers.
They were all great, but the two that we liked the best were Clipper City and Dogfish Head with Weyerbacher coming in a close third. These beers fell into the first school of beer which tastes like actual pumpkins. They each had a crisp, mild sweetness combined with strong pumpkin flavors that gave the beer a clean, roasted quality, which is what we like in a pumpkin beer. We all agreed that Wolavers Oragnic Pumpkin was the least favorite of the batch. Even though it was more of a pumpkin pie beer than a pumpkin beer it was still way too sweet with not nearly enough pumpkin flavor to it. All and all though it was a great way to get a taste of the season and discuss our favorite beers.
We’ve mentioned the Dogfish Head Craft Brewery and their many fine beers many times on our blog, and there is a reason for it. Dogfish is hands down one of the most original and innovative brewers today in America, or anywhere else in the world for that matter. Since the company’s meager beginnings in 1995 as the smallest commercial brewery in the world, they have consistently pushed the boundaries of what beer is and how it is made. This includes developing new methods of continually hopping beer to give it unique hop flavors to crafting beers based on the residues found in an 8th century BCE Turkish king’s tomb. Since their founding they have grown to become the 22nd biggest brewer in America, with a reputation that far exceeds that.
The man behind all of this is Sam Calagione, who founded the company when he was just 25. Last week I got the chance to sit down and talk to him at the Milton, Delaware company headquarters about the company’s past, present and future.
Calagione’s office is a disheveled cubicle filled with trinkets and mementos from various events in the brewery’s history, like the annual two day “Intergalactic Bocce Ball Tournament” which was taking place the day after I was there. The private competition features friends and brewers from all over the country and is regarded as a “holy day” amongst the Dogfish Head staff. Along with Easter and Christmas, it’s the only time the brewery shuts down. It’s not all cut throat competition during the tournament though, Calagione tells me they also launch cases of light lager from a homemade trebuchet into a oversized toilet. The contest, along with everything else Dogfish head does, seems to be dealt with in an earnest, but casual manner. “We don’t take ourselves very seriously but we take our beer very seriously,” said Calagione.
It’s this same approach towards beer and business that led to Dogfish Head’s newest offering, and their first collaboration. Life & Limb, a beer brewed by Calagione together with Sierra Nevada’s Ken Grossman was born out of a casual conversation over beers together while the two of them were in Boston earlier this year for a brewers conference. “I have gotten to know Ken through our years on The Brewers Association Board and at numerous beer events throughout the country. As a brewer myself, it is inspiring to see a person like Ken drive a beer-centric brewery so far and so wide while sticking to his original ideals and integrating his family into the company,” he said.
Like most of Dogfish Head’s beers, Life & Limb defies any easy categorization, but one thing’s certain- it’s a collaboration through and through. At 10% ABV, it’s quite strong and was brewed with maple syrup from Calagione’s farm in Massachusetts and barley grown by Grossman at the Sierra Nevada brewery in Chico, California. The yeast is a blend of the two breweries’ house yeast strains.
A companion beer will also be released around the same time this November, know as “Limb & Life.” This brew is made from a second running of the Life & Limb mash tun, a technique known as partigyle brewing, which will yield a similar, but still distinct brew which will be much less alcoholic at 5%.
This first collaboration for both breweries is something Calagione’s clearly exciting about, telling we me hopes it will lead to exciting things for both Sierra Nevada and Dogfish Head. That’s not to say that Calagione’s company hasn’t been experiencing plenty of growth before this project with Sierra Nevada. Currently the brewery is in the midst of a major construction project to expand the office space for the staff and brewing capacity. They are already brewing at their limit, and not able to meet demand with their current facility. Calagione told me this is part of the reason so many of their brews are available on a seasonal or rotational basis. “If we wanted to make one beer available year round, we’d have to switch out one of the styles already made year round,” Calagione told me.
When I asked how he decides what beers will be available year round versus seasonally, Calagione told me it’s simply the beers he wants to have around year round. “We don’t do focus groups or market research, we just make the beers we want to drink,” he said. The closest thing he told me they have to something like that is their brewpub on the Rehoboth Beach boardwalk.
The brewpub is actually how Dogfish Head first began back in 1995, and continues to feature the newest and most experimental brews Calagione and his team develops. After the interview I drove down to the restaurant where I was able to try Chicha, their newest brew, which was recently featured in a New York Times article, is based on a traditional Peruvian corn beer which involves the brewers chewing purple maize from Peru and spitting it into the brew kettle. Calagione explained to me that the natural enzymes found in human spit help break down the sugar in the corn for brewing and assured me that because it’s added to the brew before boiling, it’s perfectly safe. The beer is light and tasty with a pleasant strawberry flavor from the berries that are also added to the beer.
With so many things happening right now for Dogfish Head, and their history of innovation it’s hard to know where they will go next, but whatever they do and whatever beer they make, it’s sure to be unique, tasteful and off-center, just like Sam Calagione himself.
Today we’re going to take a look at a style of beer often overlooked by many in the craft beer world, but is still consumed widely by American beer drinkers. I’m talking of course about malt liquor, that pale yellow beer at your local liquor store that comes in 40 oz. bottles instead of the usual 12 oz. ones.
The history of malt liquor dates back to 1939 when Grand Valley Brewing Co. in Ionia, Michigan introduced the first malt liquor to the market, Clix. Since then it has slowly rose in prominence in American culture. The first successful malt liquor was Country Club, which gained a following in the 1950′s with middle class whites. In the late 70′s and early 80′s malt liquor began to be heavily marketed towards African-Americans, and became quite popular due to its high alcohol content (7-9% Alc./volume) and low price, (usually under $5 for a 40oz.) It was also around that time that malt liquor was first marketed in the now famous 40 oz. bottles. Although ‘forties’ are often synonymous with malt liquor that was not always the case. In the 1950′s malt liquor was often available only in 7 and 8 oz bottles, because of the added strength of the beer. It was a simple marketing decision to sell the stuff in forties as demographic research showed African-Americans tended to prefer larger containers. Nowadays malt liquor isn’t the only thing available in 40oz. bottles. Some standard light lagers such as Miller High Life are available in these oversized bottles as well.
By the 90′s malt liquor and forties became strongly associated with hip-hop and rap culture as it was frequently name checked in songs and featured in music videos. It wasn’t long before white college students began purchasing the stuff, hoping to emulate their favorite musicians and take advantage of malt liquor’s dirt cheap price and strong alcohol content. By the end of the decade college students’ love of forties spawned new drinking game most commonly known as “Edward Forty Hands,” a name inspired by the 1990 movie “Edward Scissorhands.” This game forces participants to tape a 40 oz. bottle of malt liquor to each hand and consume all 80 oz. before doing anything else, including visit the rest room.The college kids who take part in this sophomoric enterprise are probably not thinking much about the quality of the beer they’re consuming, which might be good thing as malt liquor is made with a high amount of artificial adjuncts and additives to raise the alcoholic volume while lowering the cost, and the taste.
What defines malt liquor can be a bit hard to narrow down. Various US states define ‘malt liquor’ various ways; sometimes it can be any beer over 5%, while in others it’s the inclusion of additives such as dextrose. Some states have even banned the sale of malt liquor all together and while Florida does permit the sale of it, 40 oz. bottles are banned, so 32 oz. ones are used in stead. Regardless of how it’s defined any malt liquor can be counted on to be very lightly hopped with a stale aroma of corn and rice and a somewhat sweet and viscous mouthfeel.
Given its reputation it’s not surprising craft breweries haven’t produced many malt liquors. The notable exception is Dogfish Head, who debuted ‘Liquor De Malt‘ a few years ago, a malt liquor which comes in its own brown paper bag. The beer has since been discontinued, so it remains to be seen if any craft more malt liquors will emerge from the craft beer scene.
What do you think about malt liquor? Are they just for the college crowd or do they have more to offer? Next time you try one let us know what you think about it by tweeting your beer and adding the ‘#mybeer’ hashtag.
Last weekend several members of team Beeriety went down to Delaware to investigate the Dogfish Head Brewery. Dogfish Head is one of the most popular craft breweries in America, having built a reputation for unconventional and experimental beers of all sorts and sizes. They are probably best known for intensely hoppy beers such as the 60 Minute, 90 Minute and 120 Minute IPAs, but they also specialize in modern recreations of historical beers, such as the Midas Touch, a beer based on the residue of an alcoholic beverage found in the tomb of King Midas in Turkey dating back to 8th century BCE.
None of us knew quite what to expect when we made the long trek from Boston to Delaware, but we were all pleased by what we found at the brewery in Milton. You’re allowed to get quite an intimate look at the brewing facilities and learn quite a bit of the company’s history. Besides brash innovation and experimentation one of the qualities which Dogfish Head is known for is it’s rapid growth and expansion. Even amidst the current economic downturn around the country, the brewery has steadily grown in size, at the staggering rate of 40% per year in the last few years. When we pulled up to the brewery the first thing we noticed was the evidence of construction. Clearly Dogfish Head’s “Off-centered ales for off-centered people” has come a long way from its early days.
The tour begins with a look at Dogfish Head’s humble beginnings. When Sam Calagione opened the brewery in 1995 it was the smallest commercial brewery in America. On display is the very first brewing setup he used to make beer, which looks almost antiquated in it’s simplicity and small size. In the beginning it took Calagione and a co-worker 10 hours to bottle just 100 cases of beer, today they are the country’s 21st largest brewery, producing almost 2.5 million gallons of beer a year. Also on view is “Sir Hops A Lot” a device designed by Calagione to allow for continuous hopping of beer during the brewing process, which makes his famous 60 Minute IPA and other continuously hopped beers possible.
In addition to the innovation Calagione has brought to new beers which defy categorization, he’s also innovated new brewing processes. Besides “Sir Hops A Lot” Calagione has also built “Randall the Enamel Animal,” which is described as a organoleptic hop transducer module (whatever that means). Basically beer leaving a keg passes through Randall, a cylinder full of hops and a filter, re-hopping the beer once more before it reaches your glass.
The tour continues with a look at the many barrels and bright tanks which produce the beer which has become so loved by so many beer drinkers, including a wooden barrel made from palo santo (holy wood in Spanish), a rare type of wood from Paraguay which is so dense it sinks in water, making it the perfect vessel to contain fermenting beer. The barrel is fifteen feet high and ten feet in diameter, and holds nine thousand gallons.
After getting to explore most of the brewing facilities we were provided with four beer samples, Shelter Pale Ale, Midas Touch, Raison d’etre and Indian Brown Ale. Three samples is the maximum the state allows. Our tour guide implored us to contact Delaware state representatives to plead for a more samples, but in the meantime we were happy to try the beer we were provided with.
After the brewery tour we headed 20 minutes south to Reboboth Beach, home to Dogfish Head Brewings and Eats, a popular brewpub near the boadwalk which, in addition to quality pub food and Dogfish Head brews also serves Dogfish Head vodka, rum and gin produced at the brewpub’s micro-distillery. When we arrived on Saturday night the place was crowded and lively, with The Neon Swing, a swing band playing in back. The brewpub usually offers a few beers not typically available in stores. By the time we got there that night several of these special brews had already been tapped, but what we did try was delightful, and probably the freshest Dogfish Head any of us had ever had.
While we were there we also got to meet a reader, Vinnie, who spotted our offer to buy someone a round at the restaurant on Twitter. We were happy to meet him and and his wife, and happy to buy him a round.
All and all it was a great trip, and certainly worth the trip if you’re some place near by. Free tours are offered daily, check Dogfish.com for more information. To see more photos from the Dogfish Head brewery tour and our trip to Delaware check out the Beeriety trip to Delaware flickr set…