Since relocating to Milton in 2002, Dogfish Head's brewery has offered guests just about everything – tours, merchandise, beer – but until recently folks had to drive down to Rehoboth Beach to get a bite to eat at the brewpub.
That all changed with the addition of Bunyan's Lunchbox, the latest off-centered idea from the off-centered brewery. Located outside the brewery's tasting room, the new food truck offers beer-infused bratwurst sandwiches, clam chowder and Dogfish's already popular hop pickles.
Chowder is available at:
Bin 66, Rehoboth Beach
Dogfish Head founder Sam Calagione said the food truck is an extension of his long-term focus of pairing food with beer.
“When we opened Dogfish Head in 1995, we intentionally opened a brewery inside a restaurant because we wanted to make food-centric beers,” he said. “We used culinary ingredients for the recipes in the beer, and we wanted to be more complex and flavorful than the average light lager that dominates commercial beer landscapes.”
The goal was to make his beer more wine-like in food compatibility.
Kelly Sharp, the off-centered tour manager, said each item offered at the lunchbox uses Dogfish beer as an ingredient, with 60 Minute IPA included in the recipe for the clam chowder and pickles, Raison D'Etre in the classic bratwurst, Chicory Stout in the Spicy Espresso Brat and Midas Touch in the Greek Feta Brat and Heirloom Italian Brat. Brewpub Chef Dennis Marcoux helped develop the homemade condiments.
“We're really hoping we can add to the lunch options in Milton because there's only a handful,” Sharp said. “We'd like to give people some more variety, plus it's very nice for all our coworkers.”
Shaped like a giant lunchbox the truck goes along with Bunyan's Forest across the street – more than 200 trees planted last year to create natural green area across from the brewery. Calagione said he's grown fond of the the legend of Paul Bunyan and even created a painting in the late 90s of Bunyan holding a giant Dogfish logo.
When it comes to the Dogfish facility, Calagione has developed his own Bunyan tale.
“It's basically Paul came back from his westward expansion, came through Bunyan's Forest here in Milton, plopped down his lunchbox, grabbed a brat and a pint of beer, went up in the treehouse and looked out at what he built here,” he said. “What me and my coworkers built here over the last 18 years is what that represents.”
As with most of Dogfish's projects, the brewery collaborated with Cape Region businesses for the food truck. The brewer's barley buns are made at Touch of Italy, while the Hard Tack Chowder is made at Sea Watch International in Milford.
The Hop Pickles are made in conjunction with Brooklyn Brine in New York and are already available many liquor stores nationally. In the next month, Calagione said, the brats will be sold in four packs at supermarkets and select restaurants from New York to Florida. The chowder will remain a local release, with only a handful of liquors stores carrying the product. A few chowder and beer tastings are upcoming for folks to try it out, including Outlet Liquors in Rehoboth from 1 to 3 p.m., Saturday, June 15, Bin 66 in Rehoboth from 1 to 3 p.m., Friday, June 28 and R&L Liquors in Lewes from 4 to 7 p.m., Thursday, July 4.
The goal is to expand the beer-centric food line. In the coming weeks, Calagione expects to offer a vegetarian brat at Bunyan's, and other options are currently in development.
“We'll be using Bunyan's Lunchbox to test out new brat flavors or new condiment ideas and, in the future, I envision additional beer-centric food products going out into broad distribution,” he said. “We'll use this as a test kitchen the way we use the brew system at the brewpub in Rehoboth as a test brewery.”
Bunyan's is open 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. Access to the lunchbox is not limited to Dogfish tour guests, and patrons do not have to be 21 to order food. Calagione expects the truck to be in place 99 percent of the time, but he is planning to tow it out to special events throughout the year, such as the Firefly Festival.
Dogfish Head is located at 6 Cannery Village Center in Milton. For more information, call the brewery at 302-684-1000.