Two Dames Do Dogfish Head

When I visited the Great American Beer Festival a few years ago, I was impressed with lots of things. The hoards of bearded beer bros. The wonder of Denver. The tartness of sours. The bitter hops that can be packed into imperial double ULTIMATE IPAs!! But something else struck me… The line for the Dogfish Head stand. It seemed to span a mile! WHAT WERE THEY ALL WAITING FOR?!

See, though I’m just mad for the brews produced by Dogfish Head, I was born in Delaware. I grew up there, and though I migrated to Pennsylvania when I was 10, it was “Delaware County”, a stone’s throw from Wilmington. It’s no surprise, then, that DFH was never perceived to me as “rare” or “special” merely…. present. Ubiquitous, even. That said, I get it. If you’re someone who doesn’t have access to the tasty beers from the First State, they become something to seek out. Rare gems. And where better to pan for gems than the source? (That was my best try at a segue. Don’t hate me.)



My dear buddy Claire came down right after the new year cracked so we could take a journey south to Milton to visit the brewery for the day. We were promptly greeted with tickets to the tour and four sample pours. I chose the four I hadn’t tried before, and we enjoyed a little pre-tour tasting

Working my way through the ranks

Working my way through the ranks

Beer's better with buddies

Beer’s better with buddies

Before I’d even started my fourth pour, it was time to tour!

And I have a confession….

The tour was (at least the portion we were on) dreadfully dull. I have a feeling it isn’t always this way, but we got shafted by a tour guide who somehow managed to make my absolute favorite topic boring, while periodically making me feel weirded out… Claire put it best, saying that Lars (our tour guide) left us feeling like his entire spiel was a long joke that never got the punchline, and never really taught us anything about what makes Dogfish Head special.

Not for lack of looking!

Not for lack of looking!

It’s okay. Their website can tell you plenty. All we knew was that, after about 30 minutes of saying what felt like nothing, we had to get outta there.

We left the tour early for greener pastures (after one last beer…)

One day I'll get a new hat. but that day isn't today.

One day I’ll get a new hat. but that day isn’t today.

Lucky for us, Dogfish Head’s Brewpub is in Rehoboth Beach, a mere 25 minutes away. So we hit the road for some eats and dranks.

Tapas, anyone?

Tapas, anyone?

Pickles, cheese, olives, and beer: What else could two gals ask for?

The beers were brewpub exclusives, Pennsylvania Tuxedo and Analog, and they were world-rocking. Claire had the higher ABV since I was driving, but we both made sure we didn’t leave empty bellied….

Oh baby.

Oh baby.

We each got a porchetta sandwich with MORE PICKLES (quickly becoming something I seek out, don’t offer to dining partners! #growingup), arugula, roasted (or was it “blistered”) red peppers, and a rich aioli that I don’t even really remember beyond just stifled moans of enjoyment from both of us.

We both left proud members of the clean plate club, stoked that our DFH dreams came true, just a little distance away from where we thought they would.

I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for those off-centered ales, and with a setting like this outside…. well, I still recommend a visit!

Steampunk Treehouse, anyone?

Steampunk Treehouse, anyone?

It was still a solid day trip, and if you’ve got the time (especially in the summer) worth the trek!

Best brewery tour you’ve ever taken?

New Belgium still has my heart…

Duck… Duck…. GOOSE! (Island Clybourn Tour/Tasting)

This trip to Chicago focused on a few key points:

  • Eating
  • Drinking
  • Seeing friends, with whom to eat and drink

That was really it. We didn’t visit the Bean. I didn’t demand a walk along the shore of Lake Michigan, and I didn’t want to see any improv comedy troupes. I wanted to eat and drink my way through the city.  And, luckily, my friends came through. Big time.

All the Geese.

All the Geese.

For half my trip, I stayed with my buddy that I’ve known approximately forever: Caitlin. The most seasoned of my Chi-town buddies, she’s been living in the Windy City for over a year now, and hadn’t visited Goose Island’s Clybourn Brewpub yet. That obviously had to be remedied.

Dirty bird.

Dirty bird.

On Saturday, Caitlin, her husband, and I bundled up and head over for a “tour” and a guided tasting. I toss the “tour” in quotations because, much like the Brooklyn Brewery “tour”, it was mostly an opportunity to stand inside of a room in which pieces of the brewing process go down but, since it’s a small area, there’s not an actual tour, more of a lecture from someone knowledgeable. In our case, it was Brad Dessy, former member of the DePaul Men’s a Cappella and generally handsome bearded brew dude.

Glowing with pride (and also probably because I'm still not that great at using my camera.)

Glowing with pride (and also probably because I’m still not that great at using my camera.)

After a mini crash course in how beer’s made (because, as he admitted, people who don’t brew don’t care, and those who do brew already know how it’s made), Brad touched on what made this Chicago Island beer so great.

  • They use water STRAIGHT from Lake Michigan, 5 gallons of water for every one gallon of beer.
  • Goose Island is Chicago’s oldest functioning brewery
  • Goose Island’s head brewers intended to bring British styles of beer to Chicago, modeling off of post-Prohibition-style beers.
  • They produce enough beer to make one new beer a week, debuting on Thursdays (in case you’re in town.)
  • Goose Island’s brew pubs were not included in the acquisition of Goose Island by AB In Bev, so they continue to hold tight to the “craft beer” status. Sweet.
  • Goose Island is very proud of their work with cask ale. We didn’t try any of this, so I can’t speak to the quality, but Brad seemed stoked about it, and if you can’t trust a male a cappella singer who brews beer, who CAN you trust?
  • In the summer, they work with local farmers from the Farmers’ Market to create all sorts of crazy collaboration beers, mixing peaches, honey, spices, truffles, hot peppers, and peas into beer.  Noted, I’ll have to head back some summer!!


I’d already enjoyed a Star Cluster IPA before/during the “tour”, and noticed the brew pub was still dolled up for the holidays as we walked up to the tasting.  No surprise, we went from Light to Dark in our beers.

Let's do this!

Let’s do this!

(In case you’re wondering, that’s a Hop Zilla original shirt, made by my buddy Robin for me for this year’s GABF. Be jealous.)

The beers we tried included:

  • Shine On (a saison/farmhouse style ale)
  • Loud and Thirsty (a dortmunder lager that I hated)
  • Caber Toss Wee Heavy (we all wore kilts when we tasted this scotch ale)
  • Voyager IPA (a delicious IPA that I was quite fond of tasting)
  • Honest Stout (Tasty, but nothing to write home about)
  • Liquid Inspiration Stout (mmm roasted malty and great)

The “guided tasting” got a little wacky by the end, as I noticed that many people stopped paying attention (maybe they were already drunk? I saw a few ladies throwing back Bloody Marys and mimosas pre-“tour”). Also, it was clear that the room was a little big for Brad to handle all at once, but his efforts were admirable.

Perhaps he should’ve sang to us?

ANYWHO, for $10, we enjoyed a little new knowledge about Goose Island, 6 beer tastings, and a lovely pint glass to take home.

And who doesn’t enjoy a little afternoon buzz?

Not us. We love that style of buzz.

Not us. We love that style of buzz.

We bundled back up to venture out into the cold once again. And, even though it’s been about four days since this tour…. I still think my bones are thawing.

What crazy ingredient would you put into your Farmer’s Market series beer??

Has anyone brewed with broccoli?


Scenes from New Belgium

The Saturday after we went to GABF, we got the chance to do one of the things I’d been looking forward to more than anything. Yes, I was excited to head to the festival. Yes, I was excited to try Biker Jim’s. Yes, I was stoked to see Denver.

But there’s a little spot about an hour and some change away from Denver called Ft. Collins, CO. And Ft. Collins is the home of this not-so-little brewery called New Belgium.  This brewery consistently puts out some of my favorite beers including, but not limited to:

  • Shift
  • Tart Lychee
  • Ranger IPA
  • Somersault
  • La Folie
  • Cocoa Mole (OOoh baby)
  • Kick
  • Vrienden
  • Valentine’s Day Beer (does this have another name I’m unaware of? Either way, it’s DELICIOUS!)

Unfortunately, New Belgium doesn’t (yet!) distribute to PA/NJ/DE. I’ve been itching to get my fix. What better way than to go straight to the source?

We had a brief (2 hour) wait in the tasting room since we missed our scheduled tour time…. but that was okay, there was plenty to do drink.

I’ll take one of everything.

Just a sample of the samples…

Can this be my bedroom wall?

Two hours of enjoying some delicious NB Brews, and we managed to squeeze into a tour.  YES!! The luckiest of ducks.

I’ve been on a number of brewery tours in my day but there are few that truly stand out as both educational and fun.  Yuengling had the title before this…. Now, I’m not so sure.

Our AMAZING tour guide, Lauren (who I mistakenly called Kate maybe 3x)

Our tour guide was incredible. She taught us to romance our beer, warming it with our hands (and our hearts).

Getting pretty intimate

We tried a number of delicious beers as we traveled through the brewery, getting up close and personal with the inner workings of New Belgium.

Gotta catch em all.


Mmmm it smelled like oatmeal.

We even got to check out some of the barrels they use for whipping up those tasty barrel-aged beers (one of which we got to try later).

Beautiful Barrel

Oooh la la, Leopold?! (Which we tried later that night!)

True Love

At the end of the tour, full of beer and overflowing with happiness, I couldn’t resist nabbing a sweatshirt (that I’m currently wearing). AND a chance to model that shirt in front of their sign.

Sorta Sorority Squat

This tour was whimsical, educational, and DELICIOUS! If you’re ever ANYWHERE near Ft. Collins, please, do yourself a solid, and book the tour! For the low cost of $Free.99, you, too, can enjoy the heck out of a magical Willy Wonka-esque beer factory.

Just make sure you are careful when you slide your way back to the real world.

Too fun.

What would be your ideal factory/brewery to tour?









Visit to Brooklyn Brewery

Merry Tuesday to each of you!! In case you’re curious, today’s the last day of Harris Teeter’s Super Double coupons!

In case you’re just getting here, check out my first day of NYC adventures.  Today’s post is a little bit out of order, chronologically, but one I really was itching to write.  I love to visit breweries, ever since my Senior year in college when, for spring break, I didn’t go get topless in Cancun or make mischief in Cabo. Nope, instead, I went to scenic Pottsville, PA to visit Yuengling, America’s Oldest Brewery!

Knowing that we were going to spending the weekend based primarily in Brooklyn, how could I miss the infamous Brooklyn Brewery?

Actually, the construction outside of the building made it pretty easy to miss (or hard to find, depending on how you look at it.)

Inconspicuous, much?

Oh, there it is!

That’s the good stuff, right there!

Located just a few blocks from Smorgasburg in Williamsburg, we were even able to pick up Claire’s little brother, John, for the trip. This was important because: 1. I think he’s great and 2. He could take pictures of Claire and me! (vanity, thy name is Jordan.)

For $20, we grabbed 6 drink tokens and, if you can’t handle basic math, that meant two beers for each of us.  We arrived around 12:45, just in time to pick up a beer before the “tour” of the brewery.  Each token = one 12 oz beer, so we each went for the East India Pale Ale.

That’s 72 oz of beer right there!!

Read it and weep drink!

Unfortunately for us, but fortunately for the brewery, they’re expanding, so the first room, the brewhouse, which is normally open to visitors, was closed off.  Luckily, they had this handy-dandy illustration that made us feel like we were right there!

Eric, our wise old tour guide, described the process of brewing, explaining how they outsource their bottling (of their smaller bottles) to a factory in upstate New York but their kegs and their bombers are brewed in the brewery in Brooklyn.

Wise owl!

Eric was funny, charismatic, and an excellent guide. I will admit, there wasn’t much to the “tour” as we mostly just relaxed, sipping our beers, in the main room of the brewery.  It was okay, though, because he told some hilarious stories and shared interesting factoids with the group, ones we’d never know about if not for the tour.

Gorgeous logo!

Brooklyn Brewery’s iconic logo was actually developed by Milton Glaser, creator of the I Love NY logo (you know, the one with the heart instead of the word love).  He originally asked WAY more than the $20,000 that Brooklyn Brewery had allocated for logo development. Luckily, though, Milton’s a bit of a beer fan.  So what he did was create a fantastic logo and, in turn, Milton gets free beer from the brewery for LIFE!! (Hear that, graphic designers? Get those pens to the paper!)

Also, when the brewery was created, the NY mafia was taxing EVERY business in the area, and approached the brewery, former Associated Press correspondent Steve Hindy and former Chemical Bank lending officer Tom Potter, for some moneys.  After weeks of negotiation and not really wanting to pay the mafia, one of the bosses approached Tom in the factory, telling everyone to get lost.  Tom, probably shaking in his boots, was pretty certainhe was going to get “offed” and sleep with fishes.  Then, to everyone’s surprise, the boss told Tom he was just messing with him and decided that the Brewery would be good for business and the area, and thus they were exempt from the tax.

We also learned the exciting tale of how the brewery got their tiny chandelier!!

Twinkle, twinkle!

Actually, this was the least interesting story of all. Someone put it up for a holiday party a few years ago, and everyone’s too lazy to take it down.  Gotta respect their honesty.

After getting a quick shot with (some of) the logo, we decided to head back to the bar for another brew!

The bar is only open on Fridays from 6-11pm and Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 6pm, but it’s a lively atmosphere and a great vibe!  They sell water and beer but, if you’d like, you can order pizza or delivery food right to the brewery (they’ll even provide menus!)  It reminded me a lot of the atmosphere of Fullsteam in Durham, very open, very relaxed, and very much about the community. We saw birthday parties, bachelor parties, and a mom who’d brought her kids and some cupcakes while she enjoyed a beer.  I loved it!



True to form, since I can’t go anywhere without making a friend, we ended up connecting with our tour guide while getting our second beer and, since we’re adorable and great (and humble?), Eric treated us to another beer, on the house!I went with the Winter Ale for my second beer (delicious, malty, almost biscuity) and back to the IPA for the freebie.

Thanks, Eric!! We love you!

Everyone was nice, the vibe was great, and, if you’re interested in beer, some history, and a good time AND you’re in NYC, I’d totally recommend getting over to Brooklyn Brewery for a Saturday or Sunday tour!