Last week three of us – Andrea, David and Conor – travelled to the US to visit our friends at Dogfish Head. Here you can find a short account about those intense and exciting days written by Conor, our cellarman here at Birra del Borgo.
Some days ago we went to visit our brothers in brewing arms on the other side of the Atlantic – the kind folks at Sam Calagione’s famous Dog Fish Head Brewery in Delaware. We were accompanied on this arduous excursion by our native brewing friends of Baladin.
It is futile to say that it was an amazing experience… how could it not have been? Travelling so far to visit one of the most important and “off-centred” breweries in America, possibly in this side of the Galaxy, for the second time in two years… well I don’t have the words to describe what a wonderful trip it was. The people we met, their kindness and willingness to share their experiences and passion for one of the oldest and most imbibed beverages of this world reflected the same goals we have at Birra del Borgo: to create and share liquid euphoria.
The trip was designed to share our like-minded attitudes towards beer making and the different paths available to get to that final, beautiful, awe-inspiring pint of beer. We had intensive sessions on aging beer in wooden barrels that we headed by presenting a Birra del Borgo pilot experiment carried out using oak-aged Enkir, Reale Extra & 33 Bruna.
We also had important discussions on quality control that were headed by Rebecca Newman(DFH’s quality manager) – a wonderful person, full of knowledge and experience and ready to share both, either in front of a blackboard or over an informal pint. We also had a tasting panel of spiked beers demonstrating the importance of fine-tuning one’s senses in order to control and perfect the brewing process.
What we couldn’t miss was a game of “bocce” just outside the brewery but, even more exciting (because at least we won this one), was playing soccer on the beach at Rehoboth close to the Brewpub while a school of dolphins decided to give us a remarkable show by jumping in and out of the water only 15meters away from the shore! We also had a very nice dinner with the DFH staff and local craft beer supporters where Sam chose some of our beers and paired them with local cheeses and cured meats. Lastly, we were introduced to many people who gave us the great satisfaction of sharing their thoughts on our beers.
Back to work where we split into groups with the heads of each department: David, our quality technician, spent most of his time harassing Dog Fish Head’s team of scientists! Andrea, along with Palli (or Paolo, head brewer at Baladin), followed Tim (head brewer at DFH) and his team of brewers around the brew plant where the magic happens. I followed Jeff & Jesse (Packaging & Brewing supervisors) around the cellar, which was more like a never ending labyrinth of fermenters and tubes.
Despite the fact that DFH’s main brewery is huge, we saw there the same spirit and enthusiasm that we encountered in their relatively small, 5 hl brewpub: a spirit you smell, breathe, hear and drink! What I am trying to say is, like Birra del Borgo and Baladin, Dog Fish Head are emozionando la birra in the same way they used to in the beginning. They are just sharing these emotions with more people.
We at Birra del Borgo thank Sam and his experienced team at Dog Fish Head for sharing.