19 March, 2012

For the Love of a Brew!

To start at the end, when we left the brewery, I had an overall feeling of well-being. More than just the very light buzz (they wisely have started splitting up the samples: 2 before the tour and 2 after). Dogfish Head is just plain old feel good beer! Maybe part of it is that – after you take the tour – you know that it is good for the environment! What a delicious feeling.

Ha! Jealous yet? Yeah.

Although I’m not hired by the company, I plug them everywhere because they are awesome, so in case you want to learn more, their website is www[dot]dogfish[dot]com. (Also, they’ve stopped distributing to Indiana, so I hope to become an ambassador for them and create the demand to change that!)

This is Red’s Dogfish Head Show & Tell There really is some cool stuff in here. (keep in mind I’d had two before the tour):

This tree out front...

is left from some artists’ environmental gathering in the American Southwest. All these artists designed and built it out of recycled materials but couldn’t leave it out there to rust in the desert. Pretty cool.

There was a guy wearing a Stormtrooper t-shirt, so I thought it would be fun if I could get him in all my pictures. (See if you can find him...it's like Where's Waldo but with a t-shirt.)

I couldn’t do it because we were usually facing the same way, but at least it gave me a chance to practice my photo-ninja skills. (I bow to the master, Misty of Mistyslaws ). It’s really hard! I got some awesome shots of my own hand, and I think by the end of the tour he was hiding behind his lady’s ample bosom. (So I had a few shots of that, too.)

Oh, that little window high up the wall in this photo? That’s the brewmaster’s room, where he oversees the brewing tanks.

These pipes look plain ...

but are another “green” feature. The hot water from one step in the process runs in one direction through one pipe, and inside the pipe is a skinnier pipe of cold water that needs to be warmed up. So instead of using the energy to heat it, the hot water in the outer pipe brings it up to temp. ...Or maybe it's vice versa. Either way.

This is funny. Sam Calagione, the founder, was an English major before discovering his talent for beer, so there are puns all over the place. DFH has several continuously “hopped” beers, and their hops infusers have names.

This one is “Me So Hoppy”.

When we came to the bottling room...

I was surprised that no one – including myself – broke into the Laverne & Shirley theme song. It really did look like that scene! We got there just when the machine started up.

And the machine that fills the kegs is called the “Tunnel of Love”.

(See the sign over the tunnel-entrance?) Ha! Love in a keg.

I had to take this:
"Capacity 12,400 gallons". That's the label on one of the vats. I don’t know about you, but to me that is A LOT of beer!

This next – vat? Urn? Cask? – is made from the wood of the Palo Santo tree that grows in Paraguay. (The one on the left is regular old oak.)

Apparently the guide showing it to Sam shot a gun at it and the bullet ricocheted. Tough wood! DFH uses it for its caramel/vanilla aroma. ...and yes, the Palo Santo Marron beer is rich and caramel-y. Yum. Also, expensive.

After our final 2 samples, and some shopping, we left the Dogfish Head facility. But we were not done. Oh no!

Tour guide Dwayne had told us about a beer float we wanted to try: DFH Chicory Stout and coffee ice-cream. We stopped to get the ice-cream and some food because, well, even though the four samples weren’t huge…have you ever toured oh, say, the Anheuser-Busch factory or something? Those mass produced beers are about 3-5% alcohol. The four samples we were given were 6.8-12% abv.

Yeah. Food was important.

ANYway, just for fun:
1. Start with beer.

2. Add ice-cream.

3. Beer floats!

4. Cheers!

And with that: Cheers, people!


  1. I would have never thought of a beer float.

    The only beer tour I have been on was for Anhueser-Busch since it is only 7- miles from here.

    Just outside San Juan is the Bacardi distillery. It has a Coca-Cola bottling plant right next to it. Proof that rum and Coke were made to go together.

    1. Now THAT is good to know - about Coke and Bacardi, I mean.

      The float was cool, but actually I like the beer too much to pollute it with ice-cream, and I like the ice-cream too much to mutilate it with beer. It was an experiment. I'm all about trying new things!

  2. Red when you get here we have to go to the Budweiser plant in Stl I have been there many times and its great!!! I did enjoy your blog but, I'm a guy and I loved the pictures so I didn't read what you wrote, so if you want me to read it don't post pictures...

    Thanks again great post (pictures) HAHAHA!!!

    1. I've toured their brewery - maybe twice, once as a kid, I think. The last time I toured it, we were on a walkway up above the factory. THe nice thing about craft breweries is that you can be on the floor actually smelling the hops and malt! (plus better beer.)

      I do like the clydesdales.

      ...maybe when I get out there I'll find a local microbrewery to tour.

    2. ...and if you didn't read the words, you missed the saga of the stormtrooper t-shirt guy. :(

    3. Red I have took yours and Brett's advice and with his help I have a new blog.....Please check out the old one that you visited before then the new one....


      Please let me know what you think....

  3. Damn, I've never been to a brewery before so I'll be limited in what I can say about this post. Hmmm... I've been to a tea factory - does that work? It looked a lot like these pictures except not really. I mean, none of the machinery looks the same - except for the part about it all being machinery.

    Anyway, I loved hearing about your tour and enjoyed the pictures too - and I especially enjoyed the Where's Waldo theme lol

    1. OH! YES! Tea Factory! As you know, I lived in the tea estates in Sri Lanka, so I know of which you speak! (I love having someone to talk to who gets it. You are a blessing to me, Bozo!)

      And you're right, except for the vats of brewing liquid, there are comparable steps: the conveyor belt (instead of hops infusion), the drying belts (instead of mixing and brewing) and the boxing (instead of bottling) area. Each separate step. And a distinct aroma of the product being made. ...oh, and a gift shop!

      I will never forget in the "boxing" area of the tea factory (I don't remember what they called it - "packaging" maybe?) that we were told that the pieces of dried tea-leaf that were too fine to stay on the belt and became airborne, landing on the floor, were used for teabags. HA! (I don't know if he was serious, but it was a clean factory, so I don't worry about it too much.)

    2. I think he was serious lol They told us something similar at the factory that I visited - and there were definitely big piles of tea dust on the floor.

      The cup of tea that they gave us at the end of the tour was the finest I've ever had. In fact, it's the first time I ever truly appreciated hot tea.

      Aren't the estates just beautiful? Those ten days or so that we stayed there were wonderful. I'll never forget them. Such a cool climate, exciting wildlife - and those soft rolling green hills. And then of course, the leaches! I don't know if you had them in Sri Lanka as well - but the plantation I was staying at was full of them. Sort of fun ;-)

      A funny thing happened back at my blog. You mentioned the Ugg boots and I thought you were making a sound effect "*ugh* boots..." and responded accordingly. It took me a bit to catch on lol

    3. Yeah, I figured he's serious. Why not put them in tea bags? It's a waste to put the bigger pieces into a fine-mesh bag! I miss the days of a teaball and strainer. (I still have a tea ball, and several diffusers, but no strainer.)

      yeah, Uggs are a brand. I saw that someone else commented about Uggs.

  4. See??? Not so easy, is it? ;p It is good that you are getting practice, though. I will expect some pics coming my way shortly, now.

    I have never toured a brewery, but have toured a few wineries in Napa valley and even a sherry plant/factory/distillery in Spain? Not sure what it is called, but they made sherry and we had quite a few samples and brought a bunch home as gifts and for ourselves. Not a big sherry fan, but I enjoyed what they gave us. But the stuff we bought was pretty much wasted because I never think, "hey, I want some sherry!" so it just sits in our liquor cabinet.

    I liked the puns. They were very . . . punny. :)

    But beer floats? No. Just, no.

    1. Yeah, I tried the beer float, and don't intend to do so again. No matter how tempting another friend made her Guinness and ...some other ice-cream...float sound!

      Every time I drive around the Baltimore beltway I see signs for some local winery. I can't remember the name. But winery tours are pretty cool too. And they usually give more tastings than breweries do!

  5. I do industrial control and programming for a living, I declare this blog entry as work and will claim this on tax.

    1. Do you think that, as ambassador, I could do the same? I tried directing the Dogfish folks toward this post, but couldn't find the right spot on their website.

    2. I think I found the spot to send them a message.

      Just click here.

  6. Ooo, photo-ninja IS hard! I don't know how Misty does it - all mine come out blurry, usually because I'm laughing since I always get caught.

    Must learn stealth.

    1. You and me both. Clearly.
      My problem is that I usually think of it too late.

  7. I. Want. A. Beer.
    Jerk. Nah, just kidding. Ignore my jealousy, it makes me mean. I sadly do not have any beer in my house today, but I do have a nice red that was recommended by some guy at Trader Joe's. But after this post it doesn't sound nearly as satisfying. Boo.

    1. Oh hey! and I still have beer at home that I picked up after the tour. And it's a nice sunny evening. We'll just have to see if it's warm enough when I get home to sit out on the deck.
      Thanks for reminding me!

  8. I hope it's okay that I'm a little more than five years late to the party here, but I feel compelled to share a story told by Dogfish Head Brewing's general manager Fred Mazzeo, as recorded in Travels With Barley by Ken Wells. This is how he describes meeting Sam Calagione at a beer event:

    “His first words were ‘Can I borrow a wrench?’ followed by ‘Do you have pliers?’ and finally ‘Got any cups?’”
    Mazzeo debated whether he ought to help this obviously unprepared lout but out of pity came up with the wrench and pliers. As he turned away, distracted by something else, he heard a pop nearby and figured Calagione had tapped into his keg. He sure had, for when Mazzeo turned back to look, he got a faceful of beer from the fulminating keg that had already drenched Calagione himself.
    Mazzeo says he was a flash away from anger when he tasted the beer “that dripped don my face and head and into my mouth. It was Chicory Stout and I realized it was far better than anything I was pouring.”

    1. It is an awesome stout. My favorite stout.
      I've actually come across some DFH here in Beijing! No stout, but still.


I enjoy a good debate. Feel free to shake things up. Tell me I'm wrong. Ask me why I have such a weird opinion. ...or, just laugh and tell how this relates to you and your life.