America's Next Hop Model
Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head Brewery politely asks that you "make love to your beer with all five senses."
Touch the bottle to make sure the beer's at its optimum temperature (neither too warm or freezing cold). Listen to the sound of the bottle opening. Look at the beer as it's poured and the head it makes. Smell before you sip. And finally, of course, taste.
It sounds a bit more complicated (and sensual) than just popping open a brewski, but there's reason to trust Calagione on the subject: The man makes some of the most interesting and delicious craft brews on the market.
"We used to take shit when we'd go to festivals," says Calagione, who founded Dogfish Head in 1995. "Other brewers would say, 'You can't put raisins in your beer. You can't put chicory in your beer. That's screwing with tradition.'"
Calagione, unfazed, worked with biomolecular archaeologists to analyze the world's ancient brews.
His Kvasir, released late last year, is based on a 3,500-year-old Scandinavian beer made of lingonberries, honey and birch syrup. Or try one of Calagione's favorites, Sixty-One, a hybrid of his continuously hopped (and justly famous) 60 Minute IPA, combined with Syrah grape must from California. The fruity Syrah in this wine-beer hybrid mellows the brew's intense hoppiness.
"There are now hundreds of craft brewers in America coloring outside the lines and following their own creative whims on what defines good beer," says Calagione. "It's about looking at the entire culinary landscape. That's really the longest tradition in brewing."
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