Extreme Beer Dinners

Big beer, big food. And lots of both.


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Big beer, big food. And lots of both.

Sam Calagione, founder and president of Dogfish Head Brewery in Delaware, made a whirling dervish tour of the country at the end of 2006 as he presented Extreme Beer Dinners in 13 cities in 18 days.

What's an Extreme Beer Dinner? That's hard to say, exactly. But

Other "extreme" beers from Dogfish include:

  • 120 Minute IPA (20%; a super hoppy ale)  
  • World Wide Stout (18+%)
  • Raison D'Être (8.0%; an ale brewed with beet sugar, green raisins and Belgian yeast)
  • Raison D'Extra (18+%; a souped-up version of D'Être)
  • Black & Blue (10%; a Belgian-style ale fermented with blackberries and blueberries)
  • Immort Ale (11%; brewed with peat-smoked barley, organic juniper berries, vanilla and maple syrup and aged in oak casks)
  • Aprihop (7.0%, an ale brewed with apricots)
  • Indian Brown Ale (7.2%; a cross between a Scotch Ale and an I.P.A., brewed with aromatic barley and caramelized brown sugar)
  • Pangaea (7.0%; an ale brewed with ingredients from every continent)
  • Fort (18%; the strongest fruit beer in the world, brewed with "a ridiculous amount of puréed raspberries")

Calagione, who brews "off-centered ales for off-centered people" at both his Rehoboth Beach, Delaware brewpub and his Milton, Delaware, microbrewery, certainly knows a thing or two about extreme beers.

 

Along with a handful of other cutting-edge microbrewers in the U.S., Calagione has for years been on the forefront of brewing big, bold, flavorful beers with huge amounts of malt, hops and/or unique ingredients.

These beers are often historical recreations of ancient beers, such King Midas Golden Elixir. This 9.0% abv ale has a recipe based on the molecular findings of food and drink residue from the pots and crocks found in the 1950s at the 718 BC burial tomb of King Midas in Gordion (modern-day Turkey). The ale is brewed with malted barley, Italian thyme honey, white Muscat grapes and Indian saffron and fermented with mead yeast.

Another historical re-creation is Chateau Jiahu (8.0%), again based on the molecular findings of food and drink residue, this time from vessels found at a 9,000-year-old site in China. Jiahu is brewed with saké rice, hawthorn fruit and honey. When debating whether beer or wine is the oldest alcoholic beverage known to humankind, Calagione points out that the oldest wine is thought to be only 7,000 years old.

Last November, Calagione released his second book, appropriately titled Extreme Brewing, a book that gives homebrewers recipes and techniques to be able to brew like Calagione and his extreme band of Dogfish Head brewers. Calagione then went on his cross-country spree to promote the book, visiting restaurants and teaming up with chefs to pair his extreme beers with their talents.

"By the end of the trip my liver was riding shotgun in my car," Calagione said. "The most common element in each of the dinners was the obvious attention to detail that the chefs took in pairing the most forward flavors in the beers to the dishes they chose to accompany them. Beer is finally taking its rightful place at high end, white tablecloth restaurant tables."

Gregg Glaser is the Editor of Yankee Brew News and the News Editor of All About Beer Magazine. He writes about beer, saké, spirits, cider and mead for many other publications.


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