After day tripping around the Delmarva Peninsula (read more about it HERE), we headed back up towards Cape Henlopen. But first, we had a very specific independent brewery in mind that we knew would have to be our stop in the First State from the very nascent stages of planning our trek: Dogfish Head Craft Brewery in Milton, DE.
Opened in 1995, Dogfish Head is considered by many to be one of the contributing breweries to first wave of the modern craft beer revolution. It’s slogan, ‘Off-Centered Ales for Off-Centered People’ serves as a bit of a rallying cry for the generation of home brewers turning pro over the last twenty plus years: there was an untapped market of consumers looking to drink more than just the run of the mill American, or, if you-fancy, European lagers or the occasional Guinness Stout. People wanted to explore the depths of their own creativity while pushing the limits of what beer could or maybe even should be. DFH’s off-centered approach led to huge hop, malt, and alcohol content beers like their 120 Minute IPA; a beer continuously kettle hopped for a full 2 hours that has such a huge malt bill to stand up to the insane amount of hops the resulting beer is as strong if not stronger than most wines at 15-20% ABV. They have also been on the forefront of experimentation in brewing for decades.
We were excited that this was the first truly dog-friendly brewery of our trip, so Jackson could join us in the taproom. It had been a long day, so we were eager to split a flight of some brew house only rarities and the hard to get and previously mentioned 120 Minute.
Our flight comprised 120 Minute IPA, Grammy’s Olde Timey Cobbler, The Best Ever Munich Dark Out of Milton, and Smothered In Hugs. The 120 Minute was so boozy and hoppy it was almost candy sticky sweet, covering the tongue and mouth in a thick, almost syrupy, resinous coating. The Best Ever Munich Dark Out of Milton is super smooth, easy drinking beer with a nice roasted nut quality to it that is very enticing. Smothered in Hugs is a Russian Stout style brewed with cocoa nibs and raspberries then aged on Madagascan vanilla beans; this beer was a bit more raspberry forward than I’d expected or would have liked, but I could see this one being exactly what some people are looking for. It reminds me very much of a chocolate with raspberry jam filling or something along those lines. The Grammy’s Olde Timey Cobbler I picked out to contrast the Burley Oak J.R.E.A.M. Bumbleberry Cobbler we’d had earlier in the day at Burley Oak (read more HERE), and was really pleasantly surprised by both how good this beer was while being entirely different than the JREAM. A golden ale with boysenberry, cinnamon, and vanilla, this beer is less sour than the JREAM while still managing to avoid being cloyingly sweet; it tastes remarkably like a well composed desert in a glass with prominent berry up front with a sweet, crumble-like flavor on the tail end.
The taproom itself was a lively spot that seemed to be a mix of both regulars and tourists. We had a nice chat with a woman from Baltimore and a couple who had just moved back to Delaware after living in California for years. Interactions like these are where I see the most beauty in a place like Dogfish Head, where strangers can come together and just chat over a beer, and we look forward to more chances like these as we travel the country. #seektheseal