"Delaware? Why do you want to go to Delaware?"
"No, what do they brew?"
"Ohh well, they do interesting beers. There was one where they brewed a beer out of corn that had been chewed by their staff. The saliva from the chewing let the starch break down into fermentable sugars."
That was the reaction when I told friend/co-workers I was taking a day off, driving 9.5 hours with two friends to visit a brewery that I had only seen on TV that brews beer with spit. Surprisingly, they weren't interested in a souvenir.
Dogfish Head is known to produce 'extreme' high alcohol by volume (ABV) beers. The Peruvian brew, Chicha (the spit beer), is just one of many beers they produce based on traditional brewing methods. They are also well known for their India Pale Ale's (IPA's) which are continuously hopped, meaning that hops are added constantly to the length of the boil time of the wort (60, 90 or 120 minutes). The result is a wonderfully easy-to-drink hoppy beer in the 60 minute, to the slightly more pungent 90 minute, to the powerful and sweet 15-20% ABV in the 120 minute.
On arrival to Milton, DE, we headed straight to the brewery where we put on our safety glasses and prepared to see the inner workings of one of the fastest growing craft brewers in the United States. Inside we saw the original brewing set up where founder Sam Calagione started brewing. At the time the tiny set up was considered the smallest commercial brewery and is minute compared to the giant kettles and fermenters currently installed. For me the highlight of the tour was seeing the fast working bottling line and the wonderfully massive (10,000 gallon/37,900 litre) wooden barrels.
At the end of the tour we were able to sample four beers: Tweason'ale, Raison D'Etre, Burton Baton and 120 Minute IPA. These were very different from any beer I've ever had - high ABV, fruity, bold! Out of the four we tried the 120 Minute IPA was my favourite - I loved the boozy sweetness. After savouring the samples we spent the next 45 minutes making detailed plans on how we were spending our duty/tax free alcohol limit and whether it would fit comfortably in my Sunfire.
After much agony, I decided to spend my limit on Tweason'ale, World Wide Stout, Chicory Stout, 90 Minute IPA and 120 Minute IPA in bottles - no keg this trip. As for Chicha, it's only available at Dogfish Head's brewpub where they test recipies and do limited runs. Sadly it wasn't available when we visited for dinner, guess I'll have to plan a return trip.