What was once the smallest commercial brewery in the US is now one of the most celebrated pioneers in craft beer. 25 years after its humble beginnings, Dogfish Head is still producing delicious award-winning beers and running a praised micro distillery.
Author: Malin Norman
Dogfish Head was born in 1995 with the idea to bring original beer, food and music to Delaware. Founders Sam and Mariah Calagione started a brewpub with three small kegs, the smallest commercial brewery in the US, and over the years their business became one of the fastest growing craft beer breweries. Sam was featured in Discovery Channel’s series Brew Masters and named Outstanding Wine, Spirits, or Beer Professional at the James Beard Awards in 2017.
The brewery is known for pushing the boundaries and producing experimental beers. For instance, in 1999 Dogfish Head released the country’s first Imperial IPA, 90 Minute IPA, a game-changer that was named Best IPA in America by Esquire Magazine and considered “one of the most important American craft beers ever brewed” by Food & Wine. The brewery’s most popular beer is 60 Minute IPA, which is boiled for 60 minutes with more than 60 hop additions. Amongst exciting new releases this year is Hazy-O!, an oat-milk centric hazy IPA brewed with four types of oats.
In addition to the brewery, Dogfish Head also operates a micro distillery with products such as Roasted Peanut Vodka, Barrel Honey Rum and Let’s Get Lost, a whiskey that won gold in the 2020 L.A. Spirits Awards in the category American Single Malt. During the past year, the distillery has also produced hand sanitiser in response to the pandemic.
Giving back to the community
Dogfish Head has just announced an initiative for beer and nature lovers to unplug their phones, TVs and computers and get outside to enjoy nature. Mother Nature, Let’s Do This! was developed together with The Nature Conservancy (TNC). “For us, the work we are doing in concert with TNC is at the heart of Dogfish Head’s brand mission. Without the bounty of Mother Nature, the source of our creative, all-natural brewing ingredients, our beers would not exist,” says Sam on the brewery’s website. “So, while our official ‘Mother Nature, Let’s Do This!’ program is new, we’ve been living by this mantra since our inception in 1995 and will continue to do so wherever our adventure takes us.”
The brewery is always looking for ways to give back to the community where it has its roots. As part of the project Beer & Benevolence, Dogfish Head collaborates with non-profit organisations to promote community, creativity and environmental stewardship. Another interesting project is 2021 Off-Centered Art Series in collaboration with Ryan Besch. This talented artist has designed concert posters and vinyl art for more than 20 years, and has created four new designs for Dogfish Head; Campfire Amplifier (a s’mores-inspired milk stout), 90 Minute IPA, Sun-Day-Feels (a beermosa sour) and the new Mango Smoovie (a fruited tart ale).
If you are curious to read more about this brewery, check out Sam’s new book The Dogfish Head Book: 25 Years of Off–Centered Adventures, which is released in mid-February.
Some beers from Dogfish Head to try if you get the chance:
60 Minute IPA (6%): a sessionable east coast IPA, continually hopped. Crisp and hoppy with piney and citrus notes. Wall Street Journal praises this as ”the most balanced IPA on the market.” Not surprisingly, the brewery’s most popular beer.
Slightly Mighty (4.0%): the best-selling lo-cal IPA in the US, called “a true indie craft beer” by the brewery. A hazy IPA with few calories and carbs but lots of aromatic hops and tropical notes of pineapple, coconut, mango and citrus.
Utopias Barrel-Aged World Wide Stutz (15-18%): a rich and warming stout aged in barrels for 7 months. Well-balanced roastiness with wisps of espresso, cocoa, sherry and vanilla. A boisterous boundary-pusher, according to Dogfish Head, Available in autumn.
Pictures: Dogfish Head Craft Brewery