This is Dogfish Head, a beer brewed out of Rehobeth Beach, Delaware - the least famous of all 50 states, including South Dakota. Dogfish Head is probably best known for their IPA - specifically, their 60-Minute and 90-Minute IPA's, both of which will set the wallet back a pretty penny but make up for it and more on the palate. And for those of you who don't know (including me, until just now when I looked it up on Wikipedia), the 60-Minute and 90-Minute monikers are based on the length of time during which the wort is boiled, and as the time is extended, the hops being added to the wort lend more flavor to the final product. Makes sense.
This batch is one I'd never seen before the other day, when I sauntered into A. Piermani & Sons (my friendly local beer distributor) and saw this delicious, unique box sitting unassumingly on the shelf. It had no price tag, but shit, this is September - and to my knowledge, just about as early as you can hope to find a case of Pumpkin or Octoberfest beer on the shelves. Granted, I had enjoyed a case of delicious Sam Adams Octoberfest the weekend prior. But Sam Adams and a small craft brewery like Dogfish Head are two very different things. After all, Sam Adams is the largest American-owned brewery in the country (with Yuengling a close second).
This was not a cheap case, as I should have guessed by the absence of a price tag on the side. That is not a point that I allow to play into my decision-making process, however, when I shop at Piermani's. I live a fairly frugal life, rarely tossing any money away on buying new electronics, expensive clothes, etc. I have more t-shirts than I'll ever need, most of which are relics from college. But I love beer. And thus far, I've never balked at a beer purchase unless it's unreasonably expensive - as in over $50 or so.
This case came to $46.75. That's almost two dollars a bottle. And handing over my debit card, I remembered the only other time I'd paid that much for beer: about two months ago, when I bought a case of Weyerbacher Merry Monk's, a 9% ABV belgian wheat beer that took me more than three weeks to finish.
This one won't take so long. It's 7% ABV, a deep amber color with a fresh, roasty malt flavor, a reminder of Autumn on the way. It's stronger (smarter) than your average beer, but very well balanced - unlike the far-too-overwhelming flavor of the Merry Monk. It bears a strong resemblance to the Sam Adams Octoberfest, but with a richer flavor and obviously more alcohol.
Only problem is, you're gonna have to be within spitting distance of this small Delaware brewery in order to get your hands on it. If you can, and you've got nearly fifty dollars to spare, don't hesitate for a second.
UPDATE: Just stumbled across a good mainstream guide to the Philly beer scene. Check it out here.