Now, Calagione has taken the first step toward national distribution of a new line of what the brewery terms “beer-centric” foods. Already available via www.dogfish.com are Dogfish Head Hop-Pickles and Dogfish Head Hard-Tack Clam Chowder, both spiced with 60 Minute IPA. Four ale-infused bratwursts debuted last month at Bunyan’s Lunchbox, a food truck in the shape of a gigantic lunch box parked outside Dogfish’s Milton, Del., brewery. It’s Calagione’s test kitchen for new recipes and ground zero for his latest venture, which he calls Project Bunyan. Look for the wursts to hit this area early this month and to pop up in specialty food marts throughout the Northeast by late summer.
The sausages are the result of more than a year of R&D, as the brewery teamed with the Original Brat Hans, a specialty division of Purdue in Salisbury, Md., to sample small-batch spice-and-meat combos. The four that made the grade are: classic bratwurst, made with pork, coriander, white pepper, mace, mustard and Sam’s dark Belgian-style ale Raison d’Etre; the Heirloom Italian Brat, with pork, fennel, red pepper and the honey-accented Midas Touch; the Greek Feta Brat, with chicken, feta cheese, spinach, mint, cumin, lemon and Midas Touch; and the Spicy Espresso Brat, combining chicken, espresso powder, cumin, habanero pepper and the mocha notes of Chicory Stout. The sausage factory, Calagione says, makes a beer reduction that is added before the meat is stuffed into the casings. Boiling down the beers chases away the alcohol but intensifies the beers’ flavors. For that reason, Calagione opted to use three of his sweeter, more malt-forward brews; concentrating the hop bitterness in a pale ale or IPA might result in a severe case of bitter beer face.
Joe Hospital, a partner in the area’s three Dogfish Head Alehouses, said the restaurants might start serving a sampler of three of the beer brats as early as this week. (The Greek Feta Brat will show up later.) In Milton, the sausages are served on buns baked from brewer’s barley. But the alehouses, says Hospital, will offer “a lighter, fluffier” version of their pretzel roll to fit around the wursts’ thicker girth.
Like the brats, the Hard-Tack Chowder is a partnership with a Delmarva-based business: Sea Watch International, a family-owned clam harvester in Easton. “It’s probably the most distinctive chowder we’ve formulated,” says Guy Simmons, Sea Watch’s vice president of marketing and product development. The addition of the hoppy 60 Minute IPA to a broth containing clams, potatoes, onions and salt pork “takes it to the next level.”