Over Veteran’s Day weekend, Patrick and I took a trip to Delaware for our second annual Dogfish Head Brewery trip. We went last year for the first time in October, and the weekend was planned as a surprise for him for his birthday. This year, as the days grew slightly colder, we began reminiscing about our trip last year and how much fun we had. The phrase “Man, I wish we were going back to Dogfish this year,” was exchanged at least eight times between the two of us. So that is what we did.
We drove down Friday afternoon and after checking into our room, we headed straight to the town of Milton to have dinner at a fairly new restaurant called Cantina Ultima. The owners of this incredible place used to own a food truck that would be at Yards Brewery here in Philly, every Sunday. They stopped doing the truck and moved to Delaware to opened Cantina Ultima. It is about a 10 minute walk from the Dogfish Head Brewery, so we knew when we went for the weekend, we had to make a stop to get their signature sandwich, the Penns Porter. Unfortunately, upon arrival, we were informed that they were out. We were so upset, but the staff totally made up for it. Not only did one of the owners come over and apologize, but they also bought us our first round of beers. We had previously messaged them to make sure the Penn Porter was available as it isn’t listed on the menu and they had said yes, which I believe was their reason for them being so accommodating. Regardless, our server suggested an alternative that did not disappoint. Patrick and I both got their Pitt Master sandwich. I will let the picture do the talking.
On Saturday morning we got up on the earlier side because we had signed up to partake in a package that came along with staying at the Inn. While I was not thrilled about a Saturday morning alarm, it was so worth it. The Inn is in Lewes, DE, an amazingly quaint town on the Delaware Bay, about 20 minutes from Dogfish’s production brewery in Milton. We were taken on a van to the brewery where we got a private tour of the facilities from one of the coolest tour guides I have ever had, John. When we were finished the tour, we went to the tasting room and sampled about eight different beers on tap, four more than the four freebies your are allotted when visiting for a normal tour. Before leaving, John took us up into the Dogfish Head Steampunk Tree House, a 40 foot high “retro-futuristic sculpture” that found its home at Dogfish in 2010. Most people who visit Dogfish are not able to go into the tree house so it was something special for us to be able to do!
Another cool exclusive we got with the package was being able to go into Dogfish’s Palo Santo & Oak Wood-Aging Room. Last year on the tour we only got to see this room from through a window. This is where all their beers that get aged on wood sit for 6-12 months before being bottled and distributed. These are also some of the best beers to buy and continue to age yourself, which is exactly what we are doing with a few of our own.
After the brewery tour we were driven to the Dogfish Head Brewings and Eats in Rehobeth Beach. This is the sight of the original brewery and is now more specifically known for their amazing food. Because the site was originally equip with brewing equipment, Dogfish still continues to brew beer here, on a smaller scale, usually leaving those beers to be test beers, exclusive to the restaurant. Here we had lunch and of course, more beer!
After being driven back to the inn we had about an hour to recharge before what I consider to be the coolest part of the weekend. Sam Calagione, owner and founder of Dogfish, came by the Inn to have a fireside chat and drink a few beers with everyone staying there. The conversation was great and informative. Sam is such a class act and his attitude towards his business and employees is inspiring.
Aside from the chat with Sam, I think my favorite take away from the day was something our tour guide John talked about. John had a conversation with us about how it is okay if you don’t like every single Dogfish beer out there. Every person is different which means that their pallet is different. What one person likes and/or loves, someone else might find difficult to get down. So often I find that many craft breweries seem to have this attitude and mentality that if you dislike just one of their beers, you’re shunned. I have to agree with John in saying that that is insane. John said he finds so many people who say, “I don’t like beer, so I don’t know what to try.” His reaction to this is simple. The problem is that these people just haven’t found a beer that they DO like yet, and think of how much fun you can have trying to find one! I think this outlook is why I love craft beer and the industry so much. There is so much diversity when it comes to beer and every day we hear of a brewery coming up with something new to try. There truly is something for everyone.
I am so looking forward to our third annual Dogfish trip. I am thinking next year we will have to do it when it is a little warmer to enjoy some of the beach! If you’re planning your trip to this area, Dogfish is a must. Regardless of your passion level for beer, learning about the start of the brewery and Sam is enough to leave anyone feeling influenced and excited.