Posted by: marcmwm | December 5, 2008

Beer O’ Clock



I’m sure you guys read that New Yorker story on the Dogfish Head founder Sam Calagione. I loved the angle on the debate between traditional and extreme brewing techniques. When does beer stop being a beer? When did this blog become philosophy 101? These are good questions.

Anyway, the New Yorker story (it’s a monster but well worth it got me curious about Dogfish Head. Not a lot of DH’s beers are available in Iowa because they come with a hyper ABV. You can get a lot of the IPAs, but the specialties are hard to find.

My in-laws and family wanted to hit Costco in Madison, Wis., on Thanksgiving weekend. I was spacing off when we came up on Mineral Point Rd., a place I knew where a Steve’s Liquors was located. And there was Steve’s, so I went in and went a little crazy.

I bought three different DH brands, Midas Touch Golden Elixir, 90-minute IPA and Raison D’Etre. So far, I’ve tried Midas and RD’E.

The Midas is well-balanced. It has hints of honey, grapes and maybe hops. It’s not Schlitz. Saffron seems to be the most powerful element. It pours a pure gold. If you’ve read the New Yorker story, this is the beer based loosely on the ancient beer recipe found in an Egyptian tomb or something like that. It’s different. Definitely worth a try. I liked it, but it’s not going to be a regular in the ‘fridge.

I liked the Raison D’Etre (I think the name is a pun because the RDE has green raisins) a little better. It’s a stronger taste, with a little trappist to it with it falling into the Belgian strong ale category. (I popped open the Chimay Grand Reserve, to . . . die . . . for.) This beer is malty with new flavors coming out with each layer. The raisins and the beet sugar make it a borderline Belgian strong. If you’re looking to try a Belgian strong, by all means, may I direct you to the Chimay blue.  

I haven’t tried the 90-minute IPA, but I can’t wait. I’ve had the 60 and really enjoyed it. Even Hlas, a Miller Lite dude to the bone, gave it a thumbs up.

Dogfish Head and the guys from BeerAdvocate, Jason and Todd Alström, are going to brew a beer for the sixth annual Extreme Beer Fest in Boston, Massachusetts on Feb. 20-21 (featuring Night of the Barrels on Friday –all wood-aged beers — and Sessions One & Two (over 100 extreme beers) on Saturday). (Honey, about that trip for our 20th anniversary . . .)

From BeerAdvocate: “The beer’s creation and progress will be tracked and discussed online, named by members via a competition, served exclusively at the Extreme Beer Fest, and discussed during an education seminar.”

Here are the ingredients:

– Maple Syrup (Grade A, Massachusetts)
– Chestnuts
– Green Peppercorns
– Korean Corn Tea “Oksusu-cha”
– Fawcett’s Maris Otter Base Malt
– Dash of MFB Kiln Coffee Malt
– Liberty & Vanguard hops
– Dogfish Head’s Raison D’Etre House Yeast Strain
– Aiming for 8% ABV

In addition to the straight-up version, a version aged on walnut wood chips will also debut on Night of the Barrels.

Wow, just wow.

I really admire Dogfish’s chutzpah. Go for it.


The trip to Steve’s was productive. The stop at Van’s in EDBQ was also productive.

I picked up a 22 oz. of Stone’s Vertical Epic Ale, the ’08 version. Here’s what the Stone website says, “We wanted to brew a beer that demonstrated some of the same flavor characteristics: dry, crisp, intense Belgian tropical fruit and clove yeast character, and citrus-derived complexity provided by American hops used at a fairly high rate (not unusual for us, by any means!). And despite the hop shortages we are struggling through, we said “damn the torpedoes” and brewed 12 batches of this strong Belgian Golden Ale that comes in at 65 IBU’s, and is dry hopped with a blend of Simcoe and Amarillo hops.”

Hmm, might have to break that one open tonight.

I also bought 12 of Sierra Nevada’s Bigfoot barleywine style ale, maybe the last two sixers in the area. Love this stuff.

Here’s what BWH3 on BeerAdvocate says, “The tasting begins with a mild creamy caramel sweetness to set the palate up for the bitterness to follow. The bitterness begins as a earthy and mineral dull bitterness that slowly sharpens and mutates into the citrus and resin flavors so prominent in the nose. The alcohol warms the belly. The flavors are not as big as the aroma, nor do they have a complexity deserving the highest rankings. None the less very good.”


Recently, I listened to my beer drinking pal and cubicle neighbor, Jeff Dahn, wax poetically about his days in Ames as a young student going down the wrong path with a beer called Stroh’s. He thought Stroh’s had long gone under. He thought wrong.

I picked up a 15 pack. Yes, 15 pack for a grand total of $7.50. I’ll bet they have 30 packs, too.

We haven’t sipped this golden elixir yet, but I have something to look forward to this holiday season.

Clayrock81 on BeerAdvocate maybe put it best, “I can’t believe they still make this stuff. Well, I can actually. As long as people drink like my departed grandfather and my uncle, there will be a market for this “upper end” cheap macro.”

There is something to be said for that and it probably explains my weakness for Old Style Light.



  1. weakness for Old Style … AHHHHHHH … music to my ears. Oh, to walk in to the Dog House for one about now.

  2. Good lord, we’ve created a monster! The 90 Minute IPA is really good. Dangerously good. My first experience with Dogfish Head beers was the Worldwide Stout. At the time, it was claimed to be the highest gravity beer commercially produced in the country. It crossed that line and had ceased to become beer. I didn’t really care for it. It reminded me of the Sam Adams Triple Bock that came out 10 years ago or so in those little blue bottles. Way too much malt/sweetness for my liking.

    Another brewery to keep your eye out for is Ommegang. It’s in Cooperstown, NY and brewing some amazing belgians.

    I drank a lot of Stroh’s living in Michigan. It was my go to cheap beer. However, I can’t find it around here. I did get my hands on a 30 pack over the holidays though. I haven’t opened it yet though, choosing to plow though the Yuengling, a beer I’m really sad I can’t get around here.

  3. Oh, and I tried to get my wife to let me use this as a Christmas tree this year but I was denied. I guess she doesn’t like Grolsch.

  4. Steve’s. Great store. A must stop on any trip to Madison

    Whatever happened to Stroh’s? I assume it’s still made under the Pabst umbrella. It was really popular with my fellow students in Minnesota in the mid-80’s (probably because Stroh operated a brewery in St. Paul).

    Ah, yes, Old Style. The sure way to tell a true Cubs fan from a poser. The posers drink Bud Light, but everyone knows that Old Style is the only beer to drink when at Wrigley (unless you’re near the Goose Island beer stand, then have one of those). Too bad it’s no longer “fully krausened.”

    Marc, did you happen to see the Beer Advocate debate about the New Yorker article? Garrett Oliver chimed in to clarify his quotes from the article (he thought it made him sound more anti-extreme beer than he is).

    Ommegang: another great little spot. Anyone who’s going to Cooperstown for the Baseball Hall of Fame should pay a visit to Ommegang, as it’s just a few miles south of town. Very interesting to see some of the Belgian brewing techniques.

    Make sure you hide some of that Bigfoot from yourself. Stash it away for a couple years and see how it tastes then (hint: really, really good).

  5. Stroh’s was purchased by Pabst and is still brewed by Pabst (which contracts its brewing to Miller). I don’t believe it’s “fire brewed” in Detroit anymore (where it started) but rather in the Milwaukee area.

    Actually, Pabst owns many of the “cheap” labels that I find drinkable, namely PBR, Old Milwaukee, Stroh’s and Old Style.

    According to Wikipedia, City Brewing in LaCrosse brews a beer called LaCrosse Lager that it claims to be the original Old Style recipe and is krausened. I’ve not tried it but it’s on Wikipedia so it must be true.

  6. I didn’t see Oliver’s comments, but I thought he aready did a little backtracking in the New Yorker when he presented a hop monster at the beer festival mentioned at the end of the story. It had some sort of extreme-ish name.

    I will do that with a six of the Bigfoot, Tim.

    Monster? I’m guilty.

    MF, I had that Stone’s Smoked Porter last night. It’s excellent.

    Tonight after the wrestling meet, the Boulevard Saison or the Hennepin goes down.

  7. I’ve got a great spot under my basement steps that’s perfect for stashing big beers like Bigfoot, Gonzo Porter, Thomas Hardy, etc. Half the time I even forget they’re there. Always a pleasant surprise when I realize I’ve got a nicely aged barleywine or strong ale to consume.

    MF, yes, City Brewing is the former Heileman HQ in La Crosse. La Crosse Lager and La Crosse Light are their two pseudo-Old Style flagship brands, although they dabble a bit in more complex styles, some of which aren’t too bad (their Oktoberfest usually is pretty good). Of course, there are a lot of good breweries in Wisconsin that do the classic styles well. City Brewing does fill that niche of “I need a 15-pack to take to the tailgate” nicely, though.

  8. Marc and co.: it is great to see that we beer geeks cross the great USA.

    I’m spoiled because I live in Dogfish territory in the Washington DC area. I can get 60, 90, and 120 (when available) pretty easily at several local establishments. They make great brew. I am enjoying a 90-minute right now.

    We are right in the middle of holiday beer season, so I would recommend Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale. If you can get ahold of Rogue’s Santa’s Private Reserve, you will be very happy.

  9. I hate you, Jeff. 😉

    Last night I hit the Sanctuary, the best beer bar in Iowa City. Started with the Rogue Shakespeare Stout (draught). Holy crap is that stuff good. I’m not usually a stout fan beyond Guinness but this was really an amazing beer. Subtle flavors of coffee and chocolate without that overt “roasted” flavor a lot of darker beers give.

    While trying to chose the next round, I sampled Ace Pear Cider and Rogue Collaborator. The Pear Cider was surprisingly good. It was more wine-like than beer but a really nice, light, refreshing flavor. Very floral nose and not overly carbonated. The Collaborator was pretty non-descript. It was an amber ale with hints of orange peal and coriander on the finish. I can’t find any info online about ith.

    Others beers sampled or drank on the night were Fullers ESB, Boddington’s Pub Ale, Anchor Steam and Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA. The Dogfish was the only bottled beer we drank.

    The one beer on tap I did not get to was the Grain Belt. That will be saved for another time.

  10. Ah, Sanctuary has Ace Pear on tap? I’ll hae to get there, although Ace is more of a summer beverage. I first encountered Ace in Idaho a couple years ago. After a long drive out from Iowa, and in the hot dry high desert, Ace Pear really hit the spot.

  11. Yeah. I could see it being the perfect beverage in the summer. It reminded me of a nice crisp pinot grigio. Yeah, it’s a chick drink but I liked it, dammit.

  12. Darn, I saw the Santa Private Reserve in East Dubuque and passed. Maybe I’ll get it for the stocking.

    I hit Benz for my dad’s XMas gift. I could spend hours in there.

    Tonight, I’m trying the 90 IPA, after all this bowl stuff. Can’t wait.

  13. The 90 Minute IP is at least 50% better than the 60 Minute IPA.

    Sounds like I need to find an excuse to go to DBQ.

  14. Yes, MF. Hit Van’s and Family, the two big liquor stores in East Dubuque. I haven’t been to Family in a couple years, but Vans has everything.

  15. Been to Van’s…great spot.

    Recently had Moose Drool brewed by the Big Sky Brewing Co., Missoula, Montana….don’t know what is in it , it but it is full flavored.

    All this Old Style talk reminds me of the Stone House (UNI 1st & 2nd floor Bender) sponsored trips to Lacrosse, Wi in charter buses around ’85-’87. I’ll never forget the big blown up Old Style Can sitting on top of the factory as we approached town….and then we were treated to 103 bars in 4 square blocks (something like that) in downtown Lacrosse for about 5-6 hours.


    G. Heileman Brewing Co., Lacrosse, Wisconsin

  16. The Big Sky beers are pretty widely available around eastern Iowa now. I know Fleck Distributing (the Miller distributor) picked them up this fall. Hell, even Fareway was them now.

    I’ve only tried the IPA but it was quite good.

  17. I’ve had the Trout Slayer. It was good.

    Dave, did you live on 11th Dancer. If you did, I think I know you. From Dubuque?

  18. No…I was in Bender. I run into past Panthers often in business. When I do, it’s always like, “Can’t remember your name, but weren’t you at UNI? Towers?”

    Good school and good people at UNI. I’m hopeful one/some of my kids decide to go there so I can get out my blue plastic Stein mug and go to the Stein on Wednesday nights. Ooops, may the Stein RIP…wishful thinking I guess.

  19. If you’re interested in mad brewing, check out Isthmus paper(online) from Madison. Brewers from Capitol and Great Dane have brewed up a really unique, true to the purity law beverage. Interested article. Also, if you’re in the madtown area, visit Great Dane and Ale Asylum. Also recently made a stop at neat little bar on eastside, The Malt Shop. Lot’s of really good beers.

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