Delaware Today magazine 302 Reads: Dogfish Head Brewery in Milton and owner Sam Calagione develop an all-Delaware beer made from local peaches and pears
Peach Buzz: The first all-Delaware beer uses local peaches, pears and a secret ingredient. Like everything else Dogfish Head does, it’s more than just a beer.
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The question must be asked of the governor, because it was asked of everyone interviewed for this story:
What is your favorite Dogfish Head brew?
“Ordinarily, I’d say the 90 Minute IPA,” says Jack Markell, who is, at this moment, mixing with several others in the back of the crowded dining room at Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats. “It’s just a great tasting ale that’s really alive. But I have to say”—he regards a snifter of Dogfish Head’s latest creation—”I really like this one, too.”
The governor is expansive this afternoon, laughing and joking, partly because it’s his nature, and partly because, truth be told, drinking beer at lunchtime isn’t usually official state business.
But today is different. Dogfish Head has done something special: It has united local government officials, educators, historians, farmers and others in the creation of an all-Delaware beer, and that collaboration needs to be celebrated.
Yet this all-Delaware beer is an even bigger deal than most might realize, because it was made in a way that is unique in all of modern commercial brewing—it was brewed with a wild yeast. Though that native wild yeast makes Delaware Native Ale a source of hometown pride, it also makes it a kind of statement.
Dogfish Head, one of the most successful craft breweries in the country, is known for making statements, if only by virtue of its status in the beer world. That position is born of its compulsion to test crazy ideas, of a tempered promiscuity for partnering with kindred spirits on interesting projects, and of an evangelist’s enthusiasm for promoting beer as something more interesting and satisfying than the industrial products we’ve been conditioned to accept as, well, beer.
Says brewery founder and owner Sam Calagione, the statement Delaware Native Ale makes is this: “With the meltdown on Wall Street and the implosion in Detroit, this is just a bunch of people saying, ‘Let’s do something.’” In the current economic and political climate, an idea so basic seems revolutionary.
So the governor, standing on a low riser in the brewpub, reads a proclamation declaring Kloeckera apiculata the state’s honorary yeast, then he and Calagione, a quiet revolutionary in the brewing industry, link arms like a couple of grown up frat brothers at a reunion and quaff a bit of Delaware Native Ale as the crowd applauds.
Because bold statements aside, everyone thinks the beer tastes really good.
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