Beers of Summer: Pale Ales

Beers of Summer: Pale Ales

As the mercury continues to rise and afternoon showers make walking feel like swimming, the beers of winter and spring aren’t always as refreshing as they are in their own season.  Enter the beers of summer – the light, sessionable, and refreshing thirst-quenchers.  These are the beers that are at home anywhere from a bonfire to a cookout to a pool party, and they will be here for you throughout the summer.

While India Pale Ales (IPAs) are currently the hottest style in craft beer, their older and wiser cousins – the pale ales – are ready and waiting for their turn in the beer cooler this summer.  American pale ales are one of the oldest styles in craft beer and though they are inspired by British pale ales, American brewers love to put their own spin on the style.

The original American pale ale, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, was brewed in the 1980s and slowly grew in popularity until it became distributed nationwide and brewed on both coasts.  Americans’ fascination and love of these hoppy and relatively low-alcohol beers continues today.  Combined with their history and low-alcohol quality, their thirst-quenching nature helps make these some of summer’s perfect beers.

 

Here are a few inspired summer pale ales to check out this season:

Swamp Head Brewery Stump Knocker Pale Ale

 

Swamp Head Brewery Stumpknocker Pale Ale (5.6% ABV)- This summer pale ale is made by fishermen with the outdoors in mind!  Named for a little fish with a big attitude, Stumpknocker packs the hop aroma and flavor of a huge hoppy beer miniaturized into a pale ale.  Light in body and big on taste, this easy-drinking pale ale is a regular resident of boat coolers everywhere.  Knock one back and see for yourself!

Samuel Adams New England Pale Ale

 

 

Samuel Adams New England Pale Ale (5.5% ABV)- Bringing the hoppy flavor to any cookout!  The Boston Beer Company debuted their New England IPA in 2018 and 2019 sees the release of IPA’s little brother – New England Pale Ale. Bursting through the can with juicy hop flavors of mangoes and peaches, New England Pale Ale brings new layers to any summertime table. If hoppy beers aren’t your favorite, check out this style of beer since hop aroma and flavor are more on the side of “juicy” than “bitter.”

 

Infinite Ale Works Trails Pale Ale Logo

 

 

Infinite Ale Works Trails Pale Ale (4.8% ABV)- The best of old-world tradition and new-world innovation!  The same yeast that makes Infinite Ale Works West Floridian Quadruple is used to make Trails Pale Ale giving the beer the fruity aroma and flavor that Belgian ales are known for. The brewery calls the beer “an easy drinking and refreshingly hoppy fusion of American hops with a distinctive Belgian yeast character.”  We call it a great twist on a refreshing pale ale with some of the great fruity flavors that make Belgian beer so interesting.

Dogfish Head American Beauty Pale Ale Bottle

 

 

Dogfish Head American Beauty Pale Ale (6.5% ABV)- Made for music-lovers by Dogfish Head Craft Brewery in collaboration with the Grateful Dead and their fans everywhere! American Beauty, a pale ale inspired by the Grateful Dead, captures the spirit of the band’s 30 years of touring and recording.  The beer is made with granola (an ingredient selected by fans of the band), wildflower honey, and all American hops. Check out this sweet beauty of an American pale ale today!

 

Check out our BEER FINDER page to see where any of these summer pale ales can be found! No matter what beer you choose to enjoy, please enjoy responsibly.  Cheers!

Dogfish Head Brewery: Why are your IPAs numbered?

In our recent interview with Dogfish Head Brewery founder Sam Calagione, Sam discussed how his idea for continual hopping in the India Pale Ale (IPA) style of beer helped put the brewery on the map and establish Dogfish Head’s reputation as an innovative brewery.

Dogfish Head founder Sam Calagione
Dogfish Head founder Sam Calagione

What’s in a number, anyway?

While conventional wisdom says a brewer should add hops to an IPA at specific intervals while wort is boiling, Sam decided to tinker.  Sam grew an idea one day after watching a cooking show. On the show, the chef added pepper to a soup a little at a time, instead of one large addition.  Sam decided to test this idea and instead of adding all of the hops to his IPA in one massive dose, Sam tried hopping the wort continuously while it boiled.  He Macgyvered up a vibrating football game and a bucket of hops so that while the beer boiled, it received continuous doses of hops, hoping that the finished beer would have all of the aroma and bitterness that beer drinkers want from an IPA.  When the first batch of 90 Minute IPA premiered at the brewpub, Sam remembers that “continual hopping provided a beautiful balance to our Imperial IPA – allowing us to add a foolhardy amount of hops throughout the boil without making 90 Minute crushingly bitter.”

Once 90 Minute IPA was established, a shorter hopping schedule was established, and 60 Minute IPA was born.  Once a lighter IPA was born, the crew at Dogfish set about making the strongest IPA in the world.

 

60:90:120 Color
Dogfish Head’s 60 Minute IPA, 90 Minute IPA, and 120 Minute IPA (from left to right).

 

How many hops can a beer hold?

The brewery dubbed 120 Minute IPA ‘the holy grail for hopheads’ and the beer’s reputation grew from there.  “120 Minute started off at 20% alcohol, but we’ve dialed it in now to come in right about 18% alcohol. We’ve found over the last 7-8 years that is where its balance is best,” Sam says.  “Unlike bigger beers that drink like a liquor, 120 Minute still drinks like a beer. Our huge beers are meant to drink more like beers – they’re carbonated like a beer, they just have way more flavor, complexity, and hoppiness.  We sell the beer in single-serve bottles, but it’s best when split between two people or drank over the course of an evening,” Sam admits.

 

It’s been a minute, but 75 Minute IPA is coming back

After 120 Minute IPA was well established, the crew at Dogfish Head noticed that taproom co-workers were creating a new beer, calling a blend of 60 Minute IPA and 90 Minute IPA “75 Minute IPA.”  The brewery then made a cask-conditioned version and released it back in 2011.  The brewery has decided to bring back this iteration of IPA with an addition of maple syrup for the 2018 holidays.

 

Pick up one of these packs today and see just how hoppy the holidays can be!

Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA

 

60 Minute IPA (6.0% ABV): It’s hard being the sequel, unless you wrote the original story. Inspired by the continual hopping process we invented with 90 Minute IPA, 60 Minute builds on that one-of-a-kind process and flavor, crafting a solid gold hit that’s found its own identity.  Brewed using a boatload of intense Northwest hops, we boil this continually hopped IPA for a full 60 minutes, adding more than 60 hop additions continuously to create a bold and timeless flavor. Continually hopped to deliver a pungently, citrusy, grassy hop flavor without being crushingly bitter, 60 Minute IPA is a surprisingly sessionable IPA for the craft enthusiast

 

 

Dogfish Head 75 Minute IPA

 

 

75 Minute IPA (7.5% ABV): Now in our latest iteration, this classic IPA is again brewed with maple syrup from Sam’s family farm in Massachusetts, while being continually hopped throughout the boil, and then dry-hopped with a slew of cascade hops. The result is a malty and earthy brew with citrusy-pine aromas, balanced by subtle maple notes.

 

 

 

Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA

 

 

90 Minute IPA (9.0% ABV): The brainchild of Sam Calagione’s continual hopping innovation, the process provided a beautiful balance to this Imperial IPA – allowing the addition of a foolhardy amount of hops throughout the boil without making 90 Minute crushingly bitter. With rich pine and fruity citrus hop aromas and a strong malt backbone, 90 Minute IPA created pungent, unapologetic flavor that led Esquire to call it “perhaps the best IPA in America.”

 

 

Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA

 

 

120 Minute IPA (15-20% ABV):  120 Minute IPA is continuously hopped with a copious amount of high-alpha American hops throughout the boil and whirlpool, and then dry-hopped with another pallet of hops. Unfiltered and abundantly hoppy, it’s the Holy Grail for hopheads! We brew 120 Minute IPA a few times a year, but it goes fast. If you find some grab a few bottles — some to enjoy and some to age.

 

60, 75, 90, or 120?  Try one or all to see what your favorite hopping number is!  Head over to our Beer Finder to see where these packs can be found near you!

The Brewer’s Story: Dogfish Head

Dogfish Head’s origin story

When Sam Calagione and his wife Mariah founded Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, they started the smallest brewery in America in one of the smallest states in America.  In 1995 Dogfish Head Brewery co-existed with Dogfish Head Brewing & Eats in a small storefront in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.  Sam was the head brewer and he made beer 13 gallons at a time.  In his beer, Sam’s focus was on using culinary ingredients in the brewing process.  Beers like Chicory Stout, Aprihop, and Raison d’Etre each had a featured ingredient to show the versatility of beer and the “off-centered” nature of the company.  In his business, he noticed that his beers were slightly different than any other brewery in the country because of this culinary focus, so Sam worked his unusual focus on beer into his brewery’s motto, Dogfish Head’s has made “Off-Centered Ales for Off-Centered People” ever since.  There were only 600 operating breweries operating in the United States and the Calagiones had dreams of one day making it big.  “In my business plan,” Sam remembers. “We were going to have a seven-barrel brewery someday with 14-barrel tanks.  That was my biggest aspiration.” Never in his wildest dreams would Sam foresee Dogfish Head Craft Brewery’s current growth – Dogfish Head has grown into the 12th largest brewery in the United States and is distributed in 42 states. Dogfish Head now makes batches of beer larger what Sam used to make in one year.  While they are brewing larger than Sam’s initial business plan could fathom, some of the brewery’s recent cult favorite beers have pushed the growth into overdrive and the “off-centered” brewer does not plan to stop anytime soon.

Sam & Mariah Calagione - founders of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Sam & Mariah Calagione – founders of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

In the current Dogfish Head brewhouse, Sam’s original 13-gallon brewing system stands as a monument to the company’s humble roots while the brewery’s 200-barrel brewhouse fills massive fermenters full of off-centered ales.  Sam, Mariah, and their hundreds of co-workers stayed true to the spirit of experimentation that inspired Sam, and from those first batches sprung a brewing philosophy that Dogfish Head calls “Off-centered ales for off-centered people.”

 

Paving a new way with an IPA

One of the first “off-centered ales” that Dogfish Head became known for was an innovation on the India Pale Ale (IPA) style.  While conventional wisdom says a brewer should add hops to an IPA at specific intervals while the wort is boiling, Sam decided to tinker.  Sam grew an idea one day after watching a cooking show. On the show, the chef added pepper to a soup a little at a time, instead of one large addition.  Sam decided to test this idea and instead of adding all of the hops to his IPA in one massive dose, Sam tried hopping the wort continuously while it boiled.  He Macgyvered up a vibrating football game and a bucket of hops so that while the beer boiled, it received continuous doses of hops, hoping that the finished beer would have all of the aroma and bitterness that beer drinkers want from an IPA.  When the first batch of 90 Minute IPA premiered at the brewpub, Sam remembers that “continual hopping provided a beautiful balance to our Imperial IPA – allowing us to add a foolhardy amount of hops throughout the boil without making 90 Minute crushingly bitter.”  Thus 90 Minute IPA was born and a short while later, a younger sibling was conceived: 60 Minute IPA.  Once 60 Minute and 90 Minute were alive and beloved, 120 Minute IPA came along and broke the record for the strongest IPA in the world.  The brewery dubbed 120 Minute IPA ‘the holy grail for hopheads’ and the beer’s reputation grew from there.  “120 Minute started off at 20% alcohol, but now we’ve dialed it in to come in right about 18% alcohol. We’ve found over the last 7-8 years that is where its balance is best,” Sam says.  “Unlike bigger beers that drink like a liquor, 120 Minute still drinks like a beer. Our huge beers are meant to drink more like beers – they’re carbonated like a beer, they just have way more flavor, complexity, and hoppiness.  We sell the beer in single-serve bottles, but it’s best when split between two people or enjoyed over the course of an evening,” Sam admits.

90 Minute IPA football plus 200 barrel brewhouse
90 Minute IPA was born on a football game (top) and is now brewed in 200-barrel batches (bottom).

The vibrating football game broke after a few batches (its electronic parts weren’t meant to be held over a steaming kettle), but the idea for continual hopping lives on.  Today, the ka-woosh sound of a pneumonic cannon shooting fistfuls of hops into 200 barrels of boiling wort echoes through the wood-paneled brewhouse every few minutes.  That’s the sound of innovation in the off-centered way that Dogfish Head loves.

Dogfish Head Brewery Exterior
Dogfish Head Brewery welcomes visitors with a steampunk treehouse and 1200-barrel tanks outside its Milton, Delaware brewery.

 

The Dogfish Head idea train

While Dogfish Head initially made their reputation on 60, 90, and 120 Minute IPAs, those beers were just the breakout beers for this enterprising young brewery.  The Dogfish Head idea train kept rolling and picked up steam along the way.  Sam admits that innovating gets harder every year when you have so many bright bulbs in the American craft brewing industry.  “With 7,000 breweries and most of them looking for creative ideas, it gets harder and harder to find white space where no one else is playing,” Sam explains.  For example, Sam points to naming new beers.  “10-15 years ago, I wouldn’t have to think about it.  Oh, Raison d’Etre.  No one else is going to use that crazy name!  And now, today, we come up with a great name and you enter that word with the word ‘beer’ after it on Google and press enter and hope for the best, but odds are that some tiny little brewery in Spokane or Austin, Texas is thinking of that same name.  So, coming up with names, let alone recipes that are unique and viable and exciting is hard.”

For Dogfish Head, staying faithful to their creative muse becomes increasingly challenging but vitally important.  Sam tells his co-workers who are working on the latest round of off-centered ales, “don’t copy anybody.”  Sam is explicit about his desire to remain original or keep working.  “Try to come up with our own inspirations.  There are a lot of breweries who made a good run of it for 10, 20, sometimes 25 years by being fast followers.  You can just draft (in the bicycling sense) behind the leaders and make a living out of being a fast follower, but that has never really excited me.”  Sam candidly admits, “I would rather we take risks and go for it and do some exotic things.  Sometimes they don’t work and sometimes they work.”  He points to a few examples like “in the case of Piercing Pils, we made a beautiful crisp pilsner with pears, but we decided to do it as a winter beer, and it turns out people don’t really want to drink a pilsner when its ten degrees in New England.  That one didn’t sell well, so we hiatused it.” Experimentation has its upside, too, and while not every beer may be a home run, the road to the company fastest-growing beer was paved with test batches and chances taken.

The best-selling beer in the company’s history came from innovation – a collaboration beer with the National Aquarium.  “With SeaQuench Ale, five years ago if you tried to say ‘Hey, I’m going to make 40-50,000 bbls of a beer that’s a mashup of a kolsch, a Berliner Weiss, and a gose with black limes and sea salt, people would have thought you were crazy, but now it’s the fastest-growing beer in the history of our company.”  Looking for innovations has been the path that Dogfish Head has carved for itself and Sam wants the brewery to keep going down that path.

Sam feels that SeaQuench’s multilayered appeal is key to inviting new drinkers to the world of great beer.  “We know that we have a winner in SeaQuench and especially in a hot climate like Florida, we see that SeaQuench will be a viable year-round beer since it appeals to margarita drinkers and pinot gris drinkers alike.”  Sam says he sees long-term success with SeaQuench, and the brewery is going to continue to bet on it.  “I think the runway is super long for SeaQuench, so I think in 2019 we’re going to do a complimentary beer very different from SeaQuench sour that we think will do really really well.”  Sam says that Florida can expect to see this new beer from April through the summer as long as it lasts.

 

Dogfish Head Collaboration
Dogfish Head has only hinted at their next collaboration. No definitive news yet…

Being one with the music while marching to their own drummer

Each year, Dogfish Head supports Record Store Day, a day celebrating independent record stores nationwide.  In recent years, that support has included collaborations with well-known musicians.   Sam prefers collaborations that have a “karmic resonance” – when brewer and music-maker each contribute their talents to the project.  As an example, 2018’s collaborator was Flaming Lips frontman, Wayne Coyne.  Coyne was so inspired by the project that he wrote two original songs for the project.  The beer that resulted from the collaboration, called Dragons & Yum-Yums, was part of the brewery’s Art Series in 2018 and has a rumored return in the future.

The next collaboration is already in the works, and Sam says the drinking public will find out soon.  “We have a love for music as much as for beer, so without giving too much away, they’ll be a big announcement of a really internationally famous band that’s famous with a few different generations that we’ll be doing something with next year.”  This spirit of collaboration is not just limited to national bands. “We’ll be doing stuff with more local indy bands as well – lower profile but still super cool.  We’re going to still go hard at the music front.”

 

 

What’s after IPA?

Dogfish SeaQuench with ingredients
Dogfish Head’s SeaQuench, brewed with black limes and sea salt, is the fastest-growing beer in company history.

Despite his success with 60 Minute, 90 Minute, and 120 Minute IPA, Sam thinks long and hard about what beer could replace IPA in the hearts and minds of beer drinkers.  When asked ‘what’s after IPAs,’ Sam furrows his brow and says, “IPAs are what’s after IPAs.”  We’re a bunch of wily vets in this room, so we think everyone is getting sick of IPAs.  As we all know, independent craft beer still has less than 13% market share, so 87% of the folks out there drinking beer are hopefully getting interested in craft and with IPAs, there’s never been so galvanizing or scalable a style in the 35-year history of the craft brewing renaissance as IPAs.”  Part of the beauty of the style is how many different nuanced flavors it can accentuate.  “That being said, the fragmentation of the IPA styles is going to accelerate as some sections from session IPAs to fruited IPAs to New England IPAs get more traction and get more dynamic.”  Sam believes that the IPA style has so many facets and layers that it will continue to be the most favored beer style among beer enthusiasts for years to come.

 

More than a fishing story

As Dogfish Head continues to grow and size up, Sam says that the brewery’s current size “feels right.”  While his 200-barrel brewhouse is considerably larger than the seven-barrel brewery Sam had previously aspired to, the scale of the brewery fits with its current portfolio and the number of beers that resonate with the beer-loving public.  Sam reflects, “here we are in a room with our original half-barrel system on one side and our 200-barrel system on the other.  This equipment is surreal to me, how big it is, but it doesn’t feel wrong or awkward, it still feels right.”  Sam admits that he is not overwhelmed by how big the brewery is because of the organic growth it took to get there.  “I would be freaked out if we got to the scale that we are and only made 60-minute IPA. But the fact that there are tanks outside that hold 1,200 barrels of beer and some of them are filled with Punkin Ale, some of them are filled with SeaQuench, some of them are filled with Flesh and Blood, some are filled with 60 Minute, it feels right to me that we got this big because we didn’t have to change our business model and our off-centered approach to brewing to get to this size.”

Sam smiles at the impact that Dogfish’s love of culinary ingredients and off-centered approach has had on the beer industry as a whole.  “We were the original that said in our business plan that the majority of beers we make will be made with culinary ingredients and that was true when we were the smallest brewery in America and it’s still true today when we’re a top 12 brewery.  The majority of the recipes that come out of this building are made with culinary ingredients.” While the winds of change have blown through the entire brewing industry in recent years, Sam says he’s proud of the way Dogfish Head has grown.  “If anything, the brewing industry bended towards what we were doing, which was being more creative, more flavor-forward, more adventurous with our flavor profiles.  The scale is admittedly big for an independent craft brewery, but it still feels right, still feels good.”

 

More than beer: Dogfish Head’s mission

60:90:120 Color
Dogfish Head’s 60 Minute IPA, 90 Minute IPA, and 120 Minute IPA (from left to right).

While all of the beer Dogfish Head has made continues to open minds about craft beer, Sam says that his biggest point of pride in the company is how the mission has evolved to its current state.  “We’re really proud of the fact that (as a company) we’re about people first and product second.  Our mission statement is: We are off-centered goodness for off-centered people.”  Dogfish Head may have grown beyond its original location, but the company works hard not to forget its roots, Sam insists.  “That mission statement serves to remind everyone that it’s the people that make Dogfish Head special, not the equipment or the recipes first.”

Enjoy some great Labor Day beers!

As the season of summer comes to an end on the calendar, Labor Day offers one last chance to get together with friends and family at the pool, the beach, the river, or the park before September and October rattle through into winter time and relatively cooler temperatures.  In preparation for those final pool parties, beach days, picnics, and tubing sessions, choosing the right beer can make Labor Day shindigs that much better and brighter.  The right ale or lager can add depth and complexity to any dish and the Labor Day cookout is no exception.

 

Here are a few ideas for Labor Day beers that can endure the Florida sun and keep the party going:

Samuel Adams Oktoberfest on ice

 

For the Grillmasters: Samuel Adams Oktoberfest (5.3% ABV) The toasty malt in this amber-colored lager will be enough to match flavors with burgers, dogs, and pulled pork while maintaining a relatively low alcohol content.  Try one with your favorite bacon cheeseburger, slider, or sausage and see how many layers of flavor this beer really shows.

Coppertail Brewing Independent Pilsner

 

For the Football fans: Coppertail Brewing Independent Pilsner (5.5% ABV) College football is finally kicking off for the season – watch parties and football days are back.  Why spoil these events with inter-team rivalries?  Tampa’s Coppertail Brewing has a beer that doesn’t take sides!  Independent Pilsner is light in body but with a touch of hops and a clean finish.  And those tater tots, nachos, or jalapeño poppers?  Independent Pilsner will not get in the way of any savory halftime snack.

 

Dogfish Head SeaQuench next to the pool

For the Pool partiers: Dogfish Head SeaQuench (4.9% ABV) For those who want to get a few days poolside, SeaQuench has you covered.  This beer is a hybrid of three light-bodied styles of beer and has a citrus presence and touch of salt.  Those of who might like a low-country boil and/or cedar-plank salmon are in luck also – SeaQuench was specifically designed to pair with seafood.

 

For the Beachgoers and boaters: Swamp Head Brewery Hydroslide Kolsch (4.9% ABV) For those who’re looking to get in touch with mother nature in the motorboat, canoe, kayak, or water shoes, Gainesville’s own Swamp Head Brewery’s summer classic Hydroslide Kolsch is made for weekends like this.  Dry-hopped for aroma, this light-bodied ale will quench a thirst and go well with virtually any picnic or cookout food.

Abita Purple Haze

 

For the Bonfire/ Mallow roasters: Abita Brewing’s Purple Haze (4.2% ABV) While some insist that a s’more has to be roasted over a campfire, the oppressive heat of Florida summer cannot be understated.  Whether you decide to roast marshmallows outside or make indoor s’mores in the oven, try some chocolate and sweetness with Abita Brewing’s Purple Haze.  This wheat lager has an addition of raspberries added to it so that anything sweet and chocolatey will gain the berry flavor.  So basic chocolate s’mores become raspberry chocolate s’mores.  Chocolate bars become raspberry chocolate bars, and so on.

 

To find these fine ales and lagers, please click over to our Beer Finder.

 

Cheers to Labor Day, football season kicking off, and enjoying a day with friends and family.  Please enjoy the day and enjoy it responsibly.