For those of you not from this area, you may or may not have heard of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery. If you haven’t, or if you’ve heard of them and haven’t had the chance to try their beers, find some now – you’re missing out! They have so many different types of beer, and do such unique things with their recipes; there’s really something for everyone.
Daren and I (Daren especially) are pretty into craft beer. Daren brews his own beer, and has a pretty comprehensive all-grain setup. While he doesn’t get to do it as often as we would like (it can be a pretty time-consuming process), we always have a number of different homebrews available. Right now I think we have a spiced Christmas ale, a Hop Head Red clone, and a DFH Punkin’ clone hanging out in our house (let us know if anyone wants to come over and try some; we’ve got lots). Needless to say, we get excited about craft beer and about trying new styles or breweries – and I think it’s safe to say that Dogfish is our favorite.
Speaking of Daren’s beer hobby, would anyone be interested in a guest post or even a guest series on homebrewing from him?
Anyway, back to the Dogfish… in the late winter/early spring, DFH hosts what they call their “Weekend of Compelling Ales and Whatnot.” It’s a 3-day celebration of their beers, with the main focus being Saturday’s events. On Saturday, they invite guests to their brewery to sample 15 (yup, FIFTEEN) of their beers, with about 3 oz pours for each. If you’re familiar with Dogfish, you’ll know why this has the potential to get a little crazy – and if you’re not, let’s just say DFH’s beers tend to have higher-than-average ABV’s. Like way higher. Like “I’m never drinking again after this” higher. As if that line ever fooled anyone.
Last year, Daren & I and our good friends Jenni & Steve were lucky enough to get tickets to this weekend event, and we had an amazing time. We’d been talking about this year’s event on and off for months, and were all geared up to go again. Then, tragedy struck – we somehow missed the fact they had gone on sale, the event sold out in hours, and just like that – no WOCAAW for us. Major sad face. Until it hit me – why not host our own?
So that’s how “Ali & Daren’s Weekend of Compelling Ales” got started. We stuck with the Dogfish theme, and gathered up as many large-format or specialty bottles as we could find. Some of these, like Fort, aren’t even being brewed anymore, but Daren and I had amassed a pretty decent collection over the past few years. What better way to enjoy them than with friends? We ended up inviting 4 other couples over, and spent the day (and night) enjoying good beer, good food and good company. I’ll give you the rundown of the beer we tasted and the food I made; we tried to match the food menu at least somewhat to what would be served at the real event. Snack-type food dominated, which was perfect because people tended to just graze throughout the day. The exception to that was the angel food cake – which I just made because I had amassed 12 egg whites in my freezer, so it was angel food cake time
Daren divvied the beers up into 4 categories, just to keep things interesting/give some sort of structure to the tasting. The categories were totally arbitrary, and don’t come from DFH directly or anything. We tasted 1 beer from each category during each round, and had 4 rounds of tastings (one of the Fruit beers got moved into the Wine category for the purposes of evening things out, but I can’t remember which). Here’s what we sampled:
Wine Beers (beers brewed with grapes or grape juices):
- Red & White
- Noble Rot
- Chateau Jiahu
Around the World (beers with ingredients from around the world)
- Palo Santo
- Ta Henket
- Birra Etrusca
Hops (speaks for itself, doesn’t it?)
- My Antonia
- Rhizing Bines
- Burton Baton
Sweets & Fruits (beers brewed with sweet or “dessert”-type ingredients)
- Positive Contact
- Cheese plate with Brie, Manchego and Toscano w/ Syrah
- Crackers, grapes and salami
- Classic hummus and whole wheat pita bread
- Chips w/ salsa and guacamole
- Soft pretzels with various mustards
- Browned butter chocolate chip cookies with Nutella and sea salt
- Angel food cake
- Dark chocolate pomegranate bits
Overall, we had a great time – I would highly recommend throwing this type of party for any beer lovers out there. We ended up tasting 17 different beers – no wonder it took us almost 8 hours to get through everything. We also pared the tastings down to 2 oz pours, which I think was a good call given the cumulative ABV percentages. All the food was a hit as well – all in all a successful party. Can’t wait for next year!