This is What Happens When You Visit Three Breweries and THEN Go to Dogfish Head: Beergrimage 2014

bryan-face-evolution

Click to enlarge, if you dare.

WARNING: #Longread

I make no qualms about the purpose of this blog. The title is poking fun at the idea of hosting a beer blog – I’m not drunk when I’m producing content. I swear, mom. There’s a very real reason why I do this.

Part of that reason is my adoration for Dogfish Head, which launched what I assume will be a life-long love for all things beer. All the details are here, if you feel so inclined.

That said, sometimes it’s important to let yourself go a little. Sometimes you’ve got to have fun. Sometimes, you’ve got to go on a Beergrimage.

It’s a time for friends, but no time for check-ins. It’s a reason to be silly, but no reason to get stupid. It’s an opportunity to celebrate beer. For the third year in a row, that’s what a buddy and I did, this time accompanied by Friend of the Program Josh from Short on Beer, who also offers a recap on his blog.

This year’s trip wasn’t just to Dogfish’s Rehoboth Beach brewpub, as in year’s past. We put a new spin on the effort, turning it into a mini beer road trip. Fun abounds.

If you’re like me, the prospect of an all day beer road trip makes you all like…

waiter cropped

Click to enlarge, if you dare.

But I swear things were much more organized. So off we go:

DuClaw Brewpub – Bowie, Maryland

You may have heard of DuClaw, makers of the famous Sweet Baby Jesus peanut butter porter. I learned it’s kind of a big deal during our trip. I also learned the proper way to pronounce the brewpub’s location in Bowie (Boo-ee) which is not to be confused with Ziggy Stardust.

david bowie-bowie maryland-maryland-bowie

Click to enlarge, if you dare.

DuClaw was the site for an early lunch, offering an array of foods (somewhat minimal vegetarian options) but a list of 16 beers. We each had six samples. I’m sorry I can’t report on all 16, but my liver is not.

Some of them were pretty intense with ABVs over 10 percent, like this barleywine, which is apparently enough to make a man cry.

duclaw-duclaw brewing-devil's milk-barleywine-beer

The  greatest trick the devil ever pulled was to convince the world a barleywine wouldn’t destroy you at 11 a.m. Or something.

Sweet Baby Jesus was amazing, with a solid mix of both peanut butter and chocolate that I’ve never found outside of a carefully constructed homebrew.

I really liked a blended beer called “Divine Retribution,” which was a 40/60 blend of DuClaw’s Retribution Imperial Stout and Misery Wheat Wine-Style Ale aged for six months in a charred Kentucky white oak bourbon barrel. It clocked in at 10.8 percent, but wasn’t overly intense in bourbon flavor. I likened it to a slightly toned down Bourbon County Stout – all the best flavors, but none of the burning.

duclaw-duclaw brewing-divine retribution-beer

All the other brews were solid, but not spectacular to make me remember them vividly outside of those two. Granted, we only put a dent into the whole tap list, so shame on us. All the same, a good start:

josh-bryan-duclaw brewing-duclaw

Josh and I outside DuClaw in Boo-ee, MD. Click to enlarge, if you dare. Photo courtesy of Josh.

Eastern Shore Brewing – St. Michaels, Maryland

I wish I could say I loved Eastern Shore Brewing. I wish I took pictures of the bar area, which was adorably rustic with taxidermied animals and some kind of very old rifle on an awning. I wish I asked the name of the very friendly bartender who called everyone “friend” and was great with his service.

It’s just that I didn’t think the beer was that good.

Remember that lawsuit alleging AB InBev watered down their beer? That’s literally what Eastern Shore’s beers tasted like. We were served a flight of dark beers – scotch ale, black IPA, amber and two versions of a porter – one from a keg and one cask. In each instance, the beer was correct to style. It just literally tasted like someone splashed a touch of water in each glass.

I’m not exactly saying it was like this, but it was kind of like this:

bud-water

As always, I highly recommend testing for yourself if you’re ever able, but something just felt off about the brews. I will say that the cask porter, flavored with cocoa nibs and vanilla beans, tasted like a s’more. A water-logged s’more. But a s’more nonetheless!

Flipside: they had a pretty awesome blow-off tube system.

Another plus: Eastern Shore has a sweet phone booth outside their brewery, so I guess if you’re into Doctor Who or whatever this would totally be your thing

eastern shore brewing-front-beer

Onward and upward!

josh-bryan-eastern shore brewing-beer

Just hanging around at Eastern Shore Brewing!
I’m sorry.
Photo courtesy of Josh.

16 Mile Brewing – Georgetown, Deleware

All was made better with a stop at 16 Mile Brewing, however, which offered eight beers on tap, including Hot Fudge Sundae Stout. Because if you don’t want to eat your diary goodness, you might as well be able to drink it:

16 Mile Brewing-16 Mile-beer

Peaking out of the corner you can see a TV screen, which distracted me with a Syracuse University basketball game. Between cheering for the Orange, which made me stand out wonderfully at a brewery in Delaware, and the friendly bar staff, 16 Mile seemed pretty legit.

If anything, 16 Mile was a solid no-frills brewery. Simple seating area with plenty of bar space and handy-dandy samplers for your flight:

16 Mile-sample-glass

The brewery’s slogan, “Bold Session Beers,” sounds great, but applies more to flavors than ABV, as you can see on the chalkboard above. All but one of their beers on tap clocked in at roughly 6 percent ABV, which would certainly make DING‘s head explode if he knew what kind of artistic freedom us Yankees were taking with the holy creation of a session beer.

Even if the alcohol was pretty high for a “session” style, all of 16 Mile’s brews were perfectly tasty. I rather enjoyed the golden ale, which came across pretty crisp but with a slight hop bite at the end. I think all three of us also really liked their oyster stout, which was a great balance of roasted and smoked flavors that never got astringent. It made me happy as a clam.

I’m sorry.

16 Mile also had a badass fire pit that was lit as we were finishing up, so wafts of smoke came in through the door. Made me feel like a man – drinking beer, watching a fire and shouting at a TV because sports are on and of course the players and coaches can hear me.

16 Mile-fire-beer

WE’RE ALMOST THERE, I PROMISE.

josh-bryan-16 Mile-beer

I swear we didn’t steal the “1” and this is actually 16 Mile.
Photo courtesy of Josh.

Dogfish Head – Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

We made it.

Photo documentation becomes a little light at this point, because our eyes were on the prize. However, this may be the only image you need to see:

dogfish head-beer-world wide stout

Liquid glory. Photo courtesy of Josh.

That’s the latest batch of World Wide Stout. I’ve had the beer several times before, but this 18 percent-ish ABV behemoth always comes off a little abrasive. It puts some hair on your chest. From the tap, however, it wasn’t nearly as harsh, but the alcohol content still makes it a sipper.

Other brews included the Wild Carrot Seed Ale, Brewdolf and Afternoon Snack, which was based on eating apples and peanut butter and because Dogfish Head. No Ancient Ales for me, though, so I can’t say I’ve got any special microorganisms from Egypt or Russia or the moon inside of me providing what I only assume are super powers. Thanks, Sam!

sam_calagione_yeast

But seriously, folks, the Afternoon Snack was actually pretty good. The nuttiness of it was easy to taste. It didn’t strike me as peanut buttery as much as generic “seed or nut flavor,” however. The Brewdolf, styled after a Belgian golden, came with a cherry, which made me feel special!

Unfortunately, the evening did devolve into this:

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I’m sorry. Please don’t click to enlarge.

But that’s just having good fun.

Fin.

As always a good time was had. We even woke up the next morning no worse for the wear, so for that alone I’d say the trip was a success. If you’re interested, you can check out my much more abbreviated trip recaps from 2013 and 2012.

See you next year, Dogfish!

Dogfish Head-Rehoboth Beach-brewpub

Show of hands – who’s been to the Rehoboth brewpub or any of these other stops? Thoughts? Suggestions? Tips? Asking for next year…

+Bryan Roth
“Don’t drink to get drunk. Drink to enjoy life.” — Jack Kerouac

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34 thoughts on “This is What Happens When You Visit Three Breweries and THEN Go to Dogfish Head: Beergrimage 2014

    • Mr. or Mrs. or Miss. Onion,

      Appreciate the nice words. Glad you stopped by. I will admit my normal posts are probably less … light-hearted … but I hope you’ll stick around and continue to chime in!

      I’ve visited the UK once years ago – spent a week in Ireland and a week in southern England – but that was most certainly a trip on a budget which consisted of Guinness at the pub and cider from the store. Whenever I do make it back, you can bet your proper ales are at the top of my list.

      Cheers!

      • Cool – whereabouts in southern England? I’m from Kent (home of the mighty Shepherd Neame brewery!) originally but now up in London.

        Certainly will be sticking around…and don’t worry about being light-hearted, nothing worse than a blog that takes itself too seriously!

        ‘Mr. Onion’

      • The Missus and I spent time in Odstock, Salisbury, Winchester and Southampton. Most of our time was relaxing in Odstock and exploring Southampton, however. The other two were for our touristy excursions.

  1. One of the stand outs for me at DuClaw was the Euphoria brown ale. Really excellent sweet toffee flavors giving way to bitter chocolate and coffee.

  2. Wow what a trip. Next time you do this let me know. I’d love to drive down and share in the fun (if only to have on more person in the picture that can touch the sign – sorry Josh, LOL). Trac and I need to get down there sometime this year. Quite a few breweries we need to visit/revisit.

    My mom’s family is from St Michaels/Tighlman/Claiborne so I wanted to love Eastern Shore. Sadly, I felt the same as you did about it..

    And just so you know, “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was to convince the world a barleywine wouldn’t destroy you at 11 a.m.” is already the front runner for blog line of the year in 2014.

    Cheers!

  3. Good times! My wife and I visited DFH’s brewpub in Rehoboth, along with a stop at the brewery, 3 years ago. Was considering making a trip down one of the times that WWS or 120 minute is bottled up this year, and possibly meeting up with Allen H! Do you remember how that Wild Carrot Seed Ale was?

    • To be honest – barely. I got us a round when we arrived, so it was our first, and it quickly lost its place among the others. The best I can do is that it seemed of a pale ale base with a slight vegetal character. Nothing overly vegetable-like about it, but I imagine maybe some Noble hops would have been used.

  4. Sounds like a fun time! Last spring my husband and I took a road trip to DFH, my husband’s favorite brewery. We hit up Tröegs and Victory on the way. We have a friend that lives 5 miles from Victory and his wife was pregnant at the time so we had a DD and a place to stay! We took a tour of the DFH Milton Brewery before heading to Rehoboth. We had a great oyster po boy at Fin’s Fish house then settled in to the DFH brewpub for many many delicious beers. Such a great weekend!

    • I made a quick trip to Victory in the fall while I was in the Philly area for a weekend. Some great food there but I was blown away by the quantity of beer served, too. I had a Storm King on cask that was AMAZING.

      DFH is always a great trip, even if we’ve done it three years in a row now.

      • We were there right after the CBC was in Philly. They had a bunch of beers specifically brewed for the conference on top of the outstanding line up of their beers.

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