For the third event that I attended for SF Beer Week I returned to City Beer Store on Sunday, February 8 for the book signing with Sam Calagione, the founder of Dogfish Head Brewery. I had ordered Extreme Brewing [Amazon] a few days prior (it arrived the day after the signing) and I also had been reading a lot about Sam and Dogfish Head but until this event I had never tried Dogfish Head beer. I was in for a treat.
I arrived about 20 minutes early to avoid the crowds that I experienced on the previous day and although many people eventually arrived it was not packed like sardines.
I started with 90 Minute IPA, a great double IPA. It has an extreme amount of malt, hops, and alcohol (9.0% abv). It is pleasantly different from the west coast IPA’s in that the hop bouquet has less citrus and pine but a little more spice. It also has a great unique orange amber color.
Next, I tried Midas Touch, a beer that is based on ingredients from a 2700 year old Turkish fermented beverage found in the tomb of King Midas. It is sweet smelling and tasting but light bodied, which seems a bit paradoxical given that it contains 9% alcohol by volume. It is seems much lighter that a typical high gravity beer. It is unique and delicious.
Shortly after opening a bottle of Midas Touch, Sam Calagione arrived. Since I did not have my copy of Extreme Brewing, I picked up a copy of Brewing up a Business [Amazon] for him to sign. I had a few questions that I asked him such as how he decides what unique beers to brew and how to determine how much of a unique ingredient to use. He answer was simply that the influences were manifold but included culinary influences and knowing how much of an ingredient to use is based on experience. When I pressed him more on the ingredients he did divulge that sometimes they will soak the ingredient in hot water to make a tea out of it to see what it might be like.
After my breif interaction with Sam, I tried two more Dogfish Head beers. First I tried Chicory Stout, which is a dry stout that has an intense coffee flavor. This makes sense because the ingredients include: chicory, organic Mexican coffee, St. John’s Wort, and licorice root.
Finally, the last beer that I tried at this event was Palo Santo Marron. This is a brown ale with a huge 12% alcohol by volume but is so malty, nutty, and woody that it doesn’t seem like it. That is not to say that you don’t notice that it is a much stronger beer, it is just not in your face and does not detract from the experience. The uniqueness of this beer comes fromt he fact that it is brewed in a Palo Santo wood, a wood from Paraguay used in regional wine making.