Dogfish Head Brewery: Something for everyone
The first impression you get when entering the Cannery Village development in Milton is how big the Dogfish Head Brewery is. A phalanx of fermentation tanks towers over the one-of-a-kind Steampunk Treehouse and two bocce ball courts. Then you detect the aroma of grilling brats. Oh, that’s what that huge lunchbox-shaped trailer is for! Bunyan’s Lunchbox disseminates a steady flow of Hard Tack Chowder, a variety of brew-laced sausages and hops-infused pickles to hungry hopophiles.
Follow the music into a huge indoor area surrounding a colorful bar and country-style farm tables. The open-plan ceiling is studded with framed images. On one side is a merchandise area where you can stock up on brats, brews, shirts and whatever. Nearby, anxious tourgoers dutifully line up in response to instructions broadcast from a disembodied voice that’s obviously having as much fun as everybody else. It’s Vintage & Vinyl Thursday, and, as is often the case, Dogfish Head guru Sam Calagione is on tone-arm duty, tracking delightfully old-fashioned 12-inch albums on an actual turntable. I was reminded of my ’60s/’70s vintage when a fresh-faced teenager behind me pointed to the device and asked, innocently enough, “What’s that thing?” Heck, CDs were already on their way out when that kid was born!
Once you get your bearings, step up to the counter. If you’re lucky you’ll place your order with none other than the enthusiastic Mr. Calagione. I ordered a Festina Peche (the peachy, seasonal brew), and my friend Norma (who is partially responsible for getting this newspaper into your hands every week) ordered a cold Namaste which she quickly scooped up into her trembling hands (Thursday was a hard day at the Cape Gazette…). When Sam brought our beers to the counter, he paused and said he wasn’t sure which was which. But before I could come up with a smart-alecky comment, he took a quick whiff of each and immediately knew the difference. Seems only right.
And the brats! Behind the bar area (and outside in the front of the complex) is that big black lunchbox where you belly up to the screened window and announce your order. I was excited to see the Brooklyn Brine Hop-Pickles on the menu. Last December I had the pleasure of visiting Brooklyn Brine picklery at 574A President St. in New York to watch them infuse bright green cucumbers with Dogfish Head 60-Minute IPA. And they are delicious. Brinery boss Shamus Jones treated us to the fried version of these zesty nuggets at the little restaurant next to the pickle factory. Closer to home in Milton, Bunyan’s Lunchbox serves them up cold, crunchy and fresh out of the jar.
Like your brat hot? Get the Spicy Espresso version. Made with chicken, it’s surprisingly light and gets a heady kick from Calagione’s Chicory Stout with a hint of licorice root. I like to slather it with DFH’s very grainy, very colorful and oh so spicy Thai mustard - and maybe a polite drizzle of Firefly Ale hot sauce for good measure.
If you’re not feeling that adventurous, the basic pork bratwurst is infused with the fruity Raison d’Extra. Norma’s second brat (well, it was dinner), the Heirloom Italian, brought with it the suggestion of chardonnay from DFH’s Midas Touch. It paired perfectly with her cold and frothy Tweason’ale (brewed for those allergic to gluten, but enjoyed by all). Last but certainly not least is the Greek Feta, another chicken version that shares the Midas Touch with the Italian. All the grilled goodies are happily enrobed in a soft and yeasty brewer’s grain bun baked exclusively for Dogfish Head by Touch of Italy.
If you plan to do the tour, note that it’s free and first-come, first-served. Though they run every 45 minutes, they fill up fast. So get there early and plan to party a bit until your name is called. I’m sure you’ll find something to do.