Many of you beer enthusiasts and aspiring beer enthusiasts have taken or are planning trips to the beach this summer. Alas, most shore bars have all too many beers that end with the words “light” and “lime.” Ugh. If you, like me, are looking for more flavor to enjoy on the beach this summer, I have a destination for you…and it’s a one-tank-of-gas trip!
Most people wouldn’t think of Rehoboth beach, Del., as a beer drinker’s destination, but it has one of the real jewels of the craft beer world, Dogfish Head Brewery’s Brew Pub, within its city limits and mere blocks from the beach. For those of you who don’t know Dogfish Head, it is one of the most exciting breweries out there. Sam Calagione, Dogfish’s brew master has quite the reputation for brewing as they call it, “off-centered” beers. If you like experimentation and the [beer] road less traveled, then Dogfish is your place.
On a recent weekend beach trip to Rehoboth I stopped into the brew pub to check out their wares and sample some brews that I hadn’t yet been able to get my hands on. I have always been a big fan of Dogfish brews and couldn’t wait to see what they had available. Side note: one of the things I LOVE about going to an actually brewery and trying their beer is that you will often be able to get beers that aren’t available elsewhere. Plus, in Pa., we have our wonderful full-case purchase law…but that’s another article. Back to Dogfish…
I am already familiar with Dogfish’s mainstay brews, 60 Minute IPA, 90 Minute IPA (the number of minutes has to do with how long they were dry hopped (i.e., exposed to hops in a cask to give them extra bite), Indian Brown Ale, Raison D’Etre and Shelter Pale Ale. What I was really interested in was the seasonals or specialty brews that are available by the case but perhaps too expensive for this poor beer writer’s budget. I enjoyed samples of four brews: Lawnmower Light, Festina Peche, Midas Touch and Palo Santo Marron. Then, to wash down my 60 Minute Fish & Chips, I had a full pint of the Raison D’Etre, one of my favorite beers; couldn’t stop there and not get it! Here is my take on the four samples:
Before people bash me for bashing light beers above, I have to be honest; I didn’t even realize this was a light beer when I first ordered it (Doh!). The description and name on the menu strategically leave out any mention of the word “light.” I won’t delve further into my thoughts on light beers here; let’s just say there is not enough room in this article…or this Web site, for that tangent. Although at first I was rather disappointed that a brewery such as Dogfish would brew a light, I have to give them credit for the mission of this beer, which is to act as a bridge for non-craft beer drinkers to use to enter the world of fine beers. Unfortunately, not much to say about the beer itself aside from clean, pretty drinkable and not much flavor, but what else is to be expected?
I usually don’t go for fruit wheat beers. Having spent time in Austria and Germany I tend to be something of a purist when it comes to weissbier, but I figured that being Dogfish, this would be no run-of-the-mill fruit wheat. I was right. It starts off with a very nice sweetness reminiscent of a good weissbier, then blasts you with a peachy tartness that melts away, leaving no aftertaste. I would definitely love to sit on the beach or my front porch on a sunny day drinking this beer, very refreshing.
Ahhh…Midas Touch. I have been waiting (too long!) to get my hands on you. It is quite the pricey brew by the case, but not by the sample at the brewpub! Side note: all samples of beer, no matter the style, are only $1. Midas Touch is quite possibly one of the most difficult beers to describe. It is an ancient recipe that was apparently discovered in King Midas’ tomb; it falls somewhere among a wine, beer and mead. It is wonderfully complex, dry and sweet at the same time with a bit of a bite at the end. Because of all the layers incorporated in this brew, it really must be tasted in person. Each drinker will discover their own treasure within – words just seem to fall short!
Palo Santo Marron
This wood-aged brown ale knocked my socks off! It is a kicker with a 12% abv, but the alcohol is not overpowering. The thing that jumps out the most when this brew hits your tongue is the malty sweetness mixed with notes of caramel and vanilla. Again, here is another brew that has so many layers and a mind-blowing complexity. In other words, a typical Dogfish brew! Although I liked this brew a lot, it’s not exactly a beach beer. I might have to make another trip at the end of the summer and bring back a growler to enjoy while watching the leaves change.
I encourage everyone, whether you are a seasoned beer snob or a wet-behind-the-ears rookie, to take a trip to Rehoboth. Heck, even if you don’t like beer at all, Dogfish distills a whole line of liquors, so there is something for everyone. No excuses; pack your bag, cruise down to Delaware and enjoy the brewery that truly defines the [beer] road less traveled.