Dogfish Head’s experiments with beer cuisine include bread pudding with Chicory Stout, mushrooms soaked in 90 Minute IPA and doggie treats fashioned from the spent grain shoveled out of the brew kettle.
Just hitting the market is Sam Calagione’s latest brainstorm: the Hop-Pickle.
The Dogfish Head founder recalls that last fall he was drinking his 60 Minute IPA and snacking on pickles from Brooklyn Brine, a New York retailer that offers 14 types of pickles and assorted other fermented vegetables. “I thought, ‘Omigosh!’ ” he says, amazed at how consuming the two together accentuated the “earthy bitterness” shared by both. He suggested a collaboration to Shamus Jones, owner of Brooklyn Brine. Jones, already a Dogfish fan, agreed: “60 Minute is undeniably excellent.”
The Hop-Pickle debuted at the Fancy Food Show held June 17-19 at Washington’s Walter E. Washington Convention Center. The Huffington Post named it one of the top 15 “best bites” of the show, alongside delicacies such as beef jerky chocolate, rose-flavored lemonade and creamed honey made by the Trappist monks of Holy Cross Abbey in Berryville, Va.
The pickles are sliced into chunky cross-sections then packed in 16-ounce jars. Jones uses an apple cider vinegar as the base for his brine. For the Hop-Pickle, Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA is added, along with sweet caramelized onions (to balance the bitterness), peppercorns and habanero peppers. The brine is finished off with a little Cascade hop oil, which adds floral and resiny notes that will be familiar to drinkers of West Coast ales.
Because the brine is heated to about 200 degrees, the alcohol boils away, assures Jones. You won’t have to card anyone before treating them to a Hop-Pickle. Pair with an IPA or saison.
If you can locate a bottle of Saison du Buff (a collaboration beer made by Dogfish, Victory Brewing and Stone Brewing), beer and pickles will match up superbly, with the herbs in the beer (parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme) magnifying the spices in the pickles. It’s delicious, but perhaps not for sensitive palates. Hop-Pickles are available at Brooklyn Brine's store (574A President St. in Brooklyn), Murray’s Cheese Shop in New York; locally, at Whole Foods Markets and via Washington's Green Grocer.
Can we expect to see pickles brined in other Dogfish brands?
“This is the beginning of a long relationship,” Jones says. Calagione raised the possibility of brewing a beer with pickled brine, “maybe with our friends at Birreria,” his New York rooftop brewpub.