I’m a native New Yorker to the Nth degree, but I did spend 6 years living in Boise, Idaho in a sort of experiment. My experiences there could fill a book, but I won’t get into that now. I moved back to NYC in 2007 and it was that year that I had my first Dogfish Head beer. It was their Midas Touch – their first in a series of Ancient Ales – and I felt an instant connection with the people responsible for crafting this brew. It reminded me of something I would have brewed myself, had I still been brewing. I made it a point to seek out other Dogfish Head brews and as I did, my sense of cosmic brewer siblinghood only grew stronger. In our attitude towards beer, we were kindred spirits.
I started homebrewing in 1993, but had been on hiatus. Dogfish Head beers pulled me back in, reminding me of what I had been brewing and could again create. I put all kinds of things into beer – spruce needles, ginseng, gentian root, vanilla beans, beets – constantly exploring new flavors and recipes. I wasn’t afraid to try new and outlandish things, and this was exactly what Dogfish Head was doing. I felt we were coming from the same perspective.
I didn’t realize how immensely popular Dogfish Head had become but it was their beers that rekindled my passion for brewing and when I finally decided to open up my own brewpub, included in my reading material was Sam Calagione’s book Brewing up a Business. Those of you who know Dogfish Head well will see its influences all over Sacre Brew – some from reading his book, but most from convergent evolution of thought: we already naturally approached beer the same way.
Needless to say, I have great respect for Dogfish Head. They strike what I think is the perfect balance between great beer and experimentation. They limit their growth so that they can focus on the important things (making beer), and do it all without any obnoxious attitudes.
So imagine my immense delight when I got a +1 from Dogfish Head on a photo I posted on my Google+ account. My beer geekiness was profoundly tickled. And the ironic thing was that the photo I posted was of some hop cones in a tea strainer, over which I had poured a bottle of my beer (an experiment). I wanted to do a quick & dirty dry hopping but lacked the proper equipment. I thought of Randall the Enamel Animal, a Dogfish Head invention that basically turned a pool water filter into a hop filter for instant dry hopping. The closest I could come that to was a tea strainer.
This was one amongst the little experiments I perform to get to know my ingredients better and to try out ideas before integrating them into an entire batch of beer. The best brewers are a combination of mad scientist and insane artist, always coming up with new and different ways to reinterpret beer.