Dogfish Head Craft Brewery launched in 1995 in Rehoboth, Del., a seasonal town for beach-goers with little connection to craft beer. Apparently, Rehoboth was thirsty: Dogfish Head Brewery & Eats was welcomed with open arms and mouths, and the brewery opened a second production facility in nearby Milton, Del., in 1997.
In its nearly 25-year history, the company has grown from the country’s smallest operating brewpub to the 12th largest, producing close to 300,000 barrels of beer per year shipped to 37 states.
Here are 11 more things you should know about Dogfish Head.
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It came from the street.
The brewery got its name from Dogfish Head Road, a street in Southport, Me., near the Calagione family’s summer home. The suggestion came from founder and president Sam Calagione’s father, when the pair passed the sign during a leisurely jog. It was certainly better than naming it after the adjoining street; Lobster Pound Craft Brewery doesn’t have quite the same ring to it.
It brewed a beer with live lobsters.
When Dogfish Head launched in 1995, it pledged to make “off-centered ales for off-centered people.” Translation? Flavorful, food-focused beers that challenged the status quo.
That ethos has been a thread throughout the company’s history, evident in beers like Chocolate Lobster, brewed with live lobsters, more than six pounds of dark cocoa powder, and basil tea for good measure. It translates, too, to events like the Dogfish Dash, an “off-centered road race” through Milton that benefits the Delaware chapter of the Nature Conservancy.
Today, the motto has slight variations, but its message is unchanged.
Its founder is clean-shaven with a Beard.
After seven consecutive nominations for a James Beard Award, in 2017, Dogfish Head founder and president Sam Calagione was honored as the Outstanding Wine, Spirits or Beer Professional of the Year.
“I celebrate this award with my wife and business partner, Mariah, and our 200-plus co-workers who work hard to make our off-centered company tick,” Calagione said in an announcement at the time.
It brewed up a business, and a few books on the way.
Calagione cites authors like David Foster Wallace and Ernest Hemingway as inspirations, and has authored several books of his own, including “Brewing Up a Business” (2005); “Extreme Brewing” (2011); and “Off-Centered Leadership: The Dogfish Head Guide to Motivation, Collaboration and Smart Growth” (2016). He also co-authored “He Said Beer, She Said Wine” (2008) and “Project Extreme Brewing: An Enthusiast’s Guide to Extreme Brewing at Home” (2017).
Its 90 Minute IPA changed craft beer forever.
Dogfish Head helped define the American IPA style with its (literally) game-changing 90 Minute IPA. This ultra-flavorful, hoppy brew was the first to utilize the continual hopping method, a process in which hops are added continually throughout the brewing process, rather than precisely at the beginning, middle, and end.
The inspiration for the method involved a cooking show, tomato sauce, and a tabletop vibrating football game. For the full story, check out the oral history of 90 Minute IPA as told by Calagione to VinePair here.
It claimed to make the ultimate desert-island beer.
In 2018, Dogfish Head debuted “It’s The End of the Wort As We Know It,” a Belgian-style, fruited ale that claimed to permanently answer one of our favorite questions: “What’s your desert-island beer?”
The brewery playfully purported that the beer was ideal for desert-island imbibing thanks to its antioxidant-packed, fiber-rich ingredients like blueberries, acai berries, goji berries, purple sweet potatoes, rose hips, chia seeds, flax seed, spelt, oats, and quinoa.
It makes the most popular sour beer in America.
SeaQuench Ale, a mashup of three beer styles — kolsch, Berliner weisse, and gose — adds black limes, sour lime juice, and sea salt to a light and thirst-quenching brew. It launched in 2016 with an ocean-sized splash. Originally created to celebrate the launch of Dogfish Head’s seafood restaurant, Chesapeake & Maine, the beer is now reportedly the best-selling sour beer in America.
It has its own web series.
“That’s Odd, Let’s Drink It!” launched its second season in August 2018. The show, which airs on YouTube in collaboration with First We Feast, originally debuted in 2015. While the first season showed Calagione brewing with various cultural icons, like NBA all-star and apparent avid homebrewer Chris Bosh, the new roster focuses more on tasting beers. Guests include Flaming Lips lead singer Wayne Coyne, famed YouTube food-tasting duo Rhett & Link, and First We Feast’s “Hot Ones” host Sean Evans.
It’s not just a brewery.
Dogfish Head began as a humble brewpub in 1995, but is now a multi-faceted Delaware beer destination. In addition to its brewpub in Rehoboth and production brewery in Milton, the company opened its own hotel, the Dogfish Inn, in Lewes, Del., in 2014; a seafood restaurant, Chesapeake & Maine, in 2016; and revamped its R&D brewery and distillery in Rehoboth last year.
It’s not a fan of RateBeer — or Big Beer.
In 2017, news broke that the popular beer rating and review website, RateBeer.com, was partially acquired by ZX Ventures, the investment arm of Anheuser-Busch InBev. Following the announcement, Calagione spoke outwardly against the company and demanded his brewery’s beers be removed from the website. Other breweries followed, including Boston’s Harpoon, Denver’s Black Project, and Belgium’s Cantillon.
Beer is music to Dogfish Head’s ears.
Dogfish Head has a long history of collaborating with musicians and artists. In 2018, it released Dragons & YumYums, a pale ale brewed with dragon fruit, yumberry, passionfruit, pear juice, and black carrot juice in collaboration with The Flaming Lips.
In 2019, Dogfish is re-releasing its collaboration with the Grateful Dead, American Beauty. Originally released in 2013 in 750-milliliter bottles, the beer’s fourth release will be available in 6-packs year-round. The “psychedelic” pale ale’s key ingredient is — what else? — granola.