I am an unabashed fan of Dogfish Head's brews. While I am enthusiastic about seeking out and trying different beers from any (and all, eventually) microbreweries, DFH continues to maintain a particular hold on my refrigerator. Their variety of offerings is amazing in terms of style and flavor, and their degree of quality is consistantly excellent. I have honestly only ever been disappointed in two of their beers - the Chicory Stout and the Festina Peche - and in both case, because I found them to be merely "good." A list of my preferred beverages would be solidly dominated by DFH selections, and topped with my all-time favorite, the ridiculously extreme 120 Minute IPA.
So, it is with great enthusiasm that I peruse the 2008 schedule. As usual, there is a core selection of Year-Round Beers, as well as Seasonal Releases. I am greatly pleased that the Midas Touch Golden Elixir (another personal favorite, and the beverage singlehandedly responsible for my last name being a vengeful cry in some circles: "Cmaaarrr!" - a story for another time) has been reinstated this year in a more year-round capacity.
Of greater note is the extensive list of Limited Releases, which are some the most creative, excellent, and downright bizarre brews in existence anywhere. These include the previously revered 120 Minute IPA, the awesome World Wide Stout, and the brilliant Burton Baton... the last of which I need to keep an eye out for next month, because it was quite teh skarce in 2007. That said, there are two all-new beverages on the list, and I am seriously excited.
The first of these is the Palo Santo Marron, or "Holy Tree Brown," which is new to bottled distribution. It was previously available once before, at the end of 2006, on-tap only in their Rehoboth Beach brewpub location. This one sounds quite interesting - from the website:
An unfiltered, unfettered, unprecedented brown ale aged in handmade wooden brewing vessels. The caramel and vanilla complexity unique to this beer comes from the exotic Paraguayan Palo Santo wood from which these tanks were crafted. Palo Santo means "holy tree" and it's wood has been used in South American wine-making communities.
This beer is a 12% abv, highly roasty, and malty brown ale aged on the Palo Santo wood. It was a huge hit at our Rehoboth Beach brewpub when first released in November of 2006, so it's coming back... into full production.
At 10,000 gallons each, these are the largest wooden brewing vessels built in America since before Prohibition. It's all very exciting. We have wood. Now you do too.
That said, the one I'm incredibly stoked for is the Theobroma - "Food of the Gods." Tee and I heard a vague bit about this a few weeks back at the Gaithersburg brewpub, and its great to have some more details. By way of background, DFH has a working relationship with the University of Pennsylvania archeology department. If drinking vessels are found at a dig site, they are subjected to molecular archaeological techniques to analyze the residue of the evaporated contents. If the findings seem to be of an unusual fermented beverage, then DFH has been able to get access to the deduced components of the drinks, and "resurrect" libations that may not have been brewed for thousands of years. Products thus far include the previously venerated Midas Touch (discovered in the tomb of a Phrygian ruler in ~700 B.C. who is believed to have inspired the tales of King Midas), the wonderful Chateau Jiahu (found in the 9,000 year-old Neolithic village of Jiahu in Hinan province, Northern China), and now... Theobroma. From the website:
This beer is based on chemical analysis of pottery fragments found in Honduras which revealed the earliest known alcoholic chocolate drink used by early civilizations to toast special occasions. The discovery of this beverage pushed back the earliest use of cocoa for human consumption more than 500 years to 1200 BC. As per the analysis, Dogfish Head’s Theobroma (food of the gods) is brewed with Aztec cocoa powder and cocoa nibs, honey, chilies, and annatto (fragrant tree seeds). Theobroma is 10% abv and will be available in Champagne bottles for an August 2008 release. Special kegs from our test batches may be available earlier in the year at Dogfish events around the country!
Yes, 2008 is shaping up to be an excellent year for libation enthusiasm!