It may have become abundantly clear from my previous posts that I am a fan of Dogfish Head beer. I will admit that they are probably my favorite brewery. I suppose some of this stems from the fact that they are from Rehoboth Beach but also, as everyone knows these days, they make some amazing beers. It may seem strange then, given that I’ve been going down there my whole life, that I’ve never actually been to their brewery in Milton, DE. Rick and I were determined to rectify this unfortunate fact. However, in typical Dana fashion, I put off looking into the brewery tours assuming (stupidly) that we would be able to walk in on any given day and get a spot. How silly of me. By the time we investigated it became clear that, not only did we need to make a reservation, but that every single spot was taken during the week we were there. Thwarted! Rather than feel like complete failures, we decided to go to the brewpub in Rehoboth instead.
While we waited for our table, there was an hour wait and you can probably expect that type of wait all through the summer, we had beers at the bar. Rick and I both got the 75 Minute Cask Ale, also known as the Johnny Cask. It’s made and distributed in very limited quantities so we were both excited to check it out. The 75 Minute is made with a combo of their 60 and 90 Minute IPA’s that then goes into a cask to finish conditioning with even more hops and maple syrup. This is a great video from New Brew Thursday, where they interview Sam Calagione about the 75 Minute. I was not disappointed by this beer. It was absolutely delicious. Super hoppy and flavorful, smooth mouthfeel, and all around great flavor. I even said at one point that I might like it more than the 90 Minute. I like a bold beer and that’s exactly what the 75 Minute is.
The brewpub itself serves typical pub style food – burgers, fries, salads, sandwiches but also has wood grilled pizzas. If you’re expecting some type of gourmet meal, go elsewhere. It’s not a fancy place and neither is the food. The service can be so-so but everyone I’ve dealt with at the restaurant has been friendly and accommodating. They’re usually completely packed so don’t be surprised when the hostess isn’t super excited about your party of 8 on a Friday night.
We started off with the calamari, parmesan french fries, and the Alpine Idyll wood-grilled pizza. The calamari was cooked perfectly, always an indication of a competent kitchen staff, and it came with banana peppers on top. Interesting twist but delicious. It’s kind of hard to go wrong with good calamari. The fries were fine. Not as crispy as I like mine but that certainly didn’t stop me from eating them. The pizza, which came with white truffle oil, sautéed mushrooms, prosciutto, Firefly Farms fresh goat cheese, arugula, balsamic reduction drizzle, was probably my favorite part of the meal. I know it seems like there’s a lot going on there but it all worked together perfectly. Salty, earthy, with a good tang from the goat cheese, plus some smokeyness from the grill. Yum.
I got the Portobello mushroom sandwich as my main. It came with caramelized onions, roasted red peppers, arugula, and I think some goat cheese. It was, as far as grilled Portobello mushroom sandwiches go, pretty damn satisfying. Nothing to write home about but a good combination of flavors that left me happy with my choice.
Rick got the Indulgence Burger, which, as its name implies, was really indulgent. Here’s the description from the menu “Piled high with a beer battered onion ring, melted cheddar, and house made bacon. Consider yourself challenged.” Rick used the term “religious experience,” though I’m not sure if he’s referring to the burger or the fact that we were busy sampling so many great beers.
In the end, the reason you come here is to try the amazing brews that Sam Calagione and his team have come up with. On any given day they could be testing out a new beer or one that they only serve at the brewpub. This is reason enough to take advantage of the beer flight that you can create on your own. You get to choose 5 beers, any 5 beers that they have that day. Awesome. I went with the Johnny Rawton, Hellhound, Shelter Pale Ale, Black & Red, and 75 Minute. Here are my brief thoughts on the 3 I haven’t already reviewed.
The Johnny Rawton is a Pils but a hoppier version. It’s earthy, light-bodied, and has a definite taste of citrus (lemon?). It’s different from a lot of DFH’s other beers because it’s less in your face. I would define this as a summer beer. Very refreshing but not that complex. It’s only available on draft so good luck finding it.
I loved the Hellhound on my Ale. At 10% it is a strong beer but doesn’t drink like one. There is a lot of citrus flavor, as the beer is brewed with lemons, that makes it feel lighter than it actually is. The beer was brewed to commemorate Robert Johnson, who was a blues guitar player back in the day. That’s about all I know about him….Anyway, like I said, the beer is awesome.
Finally, there was the Black and Red. I have to admit that this was the first DFH beer that I really did not like…at all. It’s super dark, heavy, and fruity. It’s brewed with mint and raspberry. Oh man, it was not for me. The mint is strong upfront but then the raspberry quickly takes over. It felt medicinal – like drinking cough syrup. I’m sure there are plenty of people who enjoy heavy beers like this but I couldn’t even finish the sample size. Never again.
Dogfish Head also has its own distillery at the brewpub where they pump out really interesting liquor. They have liquor flights, as well as the beer flights, and I’ve done it twice and enjoyed it both times. They have several different flavored vodkas, along with rum and gin. Definitely worth checking out if you’re there.
The brewpub has a great atmosphere – it’s busy, loud and happy. Afterall, how could you not be happy in such a beer Mecca?