The event may have been held behind camouflaged bookshelf-doors in Stack’s “secret library” private room, but there’s no keeping news this big a secret from beer lovers: Dogfish Head beer is back.
The respected craft brewing company was previously available in Indiana but, as Zach Houlahan, Dogfish Head’s Midwest sales manager explained, they became victims of their own success: capacity issues forced them to withdraw from markets too distant from their Milton, Delaware, brewery. Three years on, they’ve added new tank space, expanded their bottling facility, and couldn’t be happier to be back in Indiana.
“Valpo in particular has a great craft-beer culture that we love being a part of again,” Houlahan said.
And it appears that the feeling is mutual.
“I haven’t seen this much excitement for something like this before, and I’ve been in this business for thirteen years,” said John Lynk, craft brand manager for Indiana Beverage, which distributes Dogfish Head locally. “Our original launch party was cancelled due to the arctic storm, but there were people lined up out the door anyway since the brand was back on sale.”
Bob Jacobs, Indiana Beverage’s vice president of sales and marketing, agreed. “Retailers are putting up notices on their marquees about Dogfish’s return. We’re not even asking them to do that, they just know how popular these brews are with craft beer lovers. The buzz about Dogfish Head is unlike anything else,” Jacobs said.
Jacobs isn’t exaggerating either: I saw the signs myself on my way to the event.
Speaking with Laurie Schmitz, owner of Godfather’s Liquors in Valparaiso, she said that Dogfish Head was a brand customers knew made consistently good products.
“It was a brand that stuck in my head as a go-to beer for a lot of people, and we were sad to see them leave,” she said.
So what’s so special about Dogfish Head that it’s able to generate this kind of buzz for their reintroduction to the area? Quite a lot of things, actually, as Nick Vitalo, Dogfish Head’s national accounts manager, described.
The company’s motto is “off-centered ales for off-centered people,” which is based on a longer quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson (the founder of the company is an English major). Their approach to brewing combines both that playfulness and willingness to explore with a passion for brewing good beer, resulting in a powerful brand with unusual offerings.
“Many of our brews have a higher percent of alcohol by volume than others, and are comparable in their styling to wines. We have beer/wine hybrids, and all of that together makes for a beer that can actually be paired with both food and with cheeses—our menus even list the suggested pairings for you.
“We also use off-the-wall ingredients. Where most beers have four ingredients, ours average six. We have our Ancient Ales too, which were developed with the help of Dr. Patrick McGovern, an expert in ancient beverages. These resurrect brewing methods and ingredients from thousands of years ago.”
Midas Touch is a good example: At 9% ABV and brewed from barley, honey, white muscat grapes and saffron, it’s “somewhere between wine and mead” according to Dogfish’s menu, and it’s based on ingredients found in drinking vessels in a Turkish tomb believed to have belonged to the historical King Midas 2,700 years ago.
Following the consumption of a beautifully sculpted spread of appetizers and with beers of choice in hand, the packed-full room quieted just long enough for a toast to the company’s success from Jacobs and the Dogfish Head representatives:
“We’ve all got a lot of passion for beer, but Dogfish really is something different,” Jacobs concluded.
By all accounts, he’s absolutely right. Which means that this time, the buzz has preceded the beer.
Midas Touch and plenty of Dogfish Head’s 25 other offerings are now available in restaurants and retailers across Indiana.