Cooking with Dogfish Head beer

August 11, 2014

Last week we had friends coming to visit from Oregon and Cambridge (England, not Maryland), so we stocked up at Lloyd’s Market. Fresh chicken, local peaches, juicy cantaloupe and a few items from the Dogfish Head collection. Those of you familiar with the brewery’s extended product line won’t be surprised to hear we bought hop pickles, beery bratwurst and clam chowder.

As we unpacked our grocery sacks around lunchtime, the soup was too tempting to store in the cupboard, and I started following the directions on the label: empty the contents into a saucepan and stir in a cup of half and half. Not only was Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA one of the ingredients already in the soup, the final step was to pour in three ounces of a roasty brown ale (the helpful comments suggested Dogfish Head Palo Santo).

Once the mixture simmered to serving temperature we ladled out bowlfuls of the creamy, chunky chowder. The only step we didn’t follow was to pair the recommended food-centric beer with this delicious beer-centric food. Hints of salty pork, bits of potato and lots of clams delivered velvety texture and rich flavor in every mouthful.

According to the brewery website, their recipe was inspired by a description of chowder found in Herman Melville’s novel "Moby Dick": It was made of small juicy clams, scarcely bigger than hazel nuts, mixed with pounded ship biscuit, and salted pork cut up into little flakes; the whole enriched with butter, and plentifully seasoned with pepper and salt. Based on the results, beer was the perfect addition to Melville’s original recipe.

That evening, I was unable to resist reaching for the package of Dogfish Head bratwurst. There were very few ingredients listed on the label: pork, beer, salt, vinegar and natural flavor. The pigs’ pedigree was impressive: raised on a vegetarian diet without any hormones, antibiotics or animal by-products. We discovered another difference with the first bite: they weren’t as salty as conventional sausages because these were made without nitrates, nitrites or MSG.

Instead of grilling the bratwurst whole, I sliced them and incorporated them into the pot of jambalaya seen in the photo. Their texture was deliciously dense, with a subtle hint of beer from the infusion of Dogfish Head Midas Touch. According to the graphics on the label, the recipe for these Heirloom Italian brats came from founder Sam Calagione’s family. The combination of spices worked well with the peppery flavors stirred into the rice and onion mixture. Next time, I’m going to try the brat they make with Raison D’Etre, their Belgian dark ale.

By the time our friends arrived, all that was left of our beer-based food supply was an already opened jar of Hop Pickles. These are the tastiest pickles we’ve ever eaten. Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA (India Pale Ale) is the backbone flavor here. Sharp, tangy hop flavors in the beer are supplemented by the addition of Cascade hops, dill weed, habanero pepper and caramelized onion. The thick pickle slices are bottled by Brooklyn Brine, an artisanal pickling operation in New York. These are crisp and spicy, with just the right heat - perfect for making an unforgettable tartar sauce.

If you’re planning to buy any of these, you can taste test them at Bunyan’s Lunchbox, a food truck parked at the Dogfish Head brewery in Milton from 11 a.m. until 6:30 p.m. every day but Sunday. Or you can try one of the recipes below.


2 T butter
2 C diced onions
2/3 C diced bell pepper
1/3 C sliced green onion
1 T minced garlic
2 T parsley
1 C diced ham
2 lbs sliced sausage*
2 t salt
1/2 t pepper
1/8 t cayenne
1 t chili powder
1 t basil
2 crushed bay leaves
1/2 t thyme
1/4 t cloves
1 1/2 C rice
3 C beef stock

Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven. Stir in vegetables, parsley and ham. Stir over low heat until vegetables are softened and meat is slightly browned, about 10 minutes. Add the sausage and seasonings and cook for about 8 minutes, stirring often. Add the rice and stir to completely coat it. Pour in the beef stock, increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to very low and simmer until the rice is tender, about 45 minutes.

*Note - select a Dogfish Head bratwurst or andouille sausage.

Tartar Sauce

1 C mayonaise
2 T minced pickles*
1 T minced parsley
1 T fresh lemon juice
1 t grated onion
1/4 t lemon zest

Whisk ingredients together in a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.

*Note - choose a flavorful pickle, such as Dogfish Head Hop Pickles.

Clam Chowder

1/4 lb bacon
2 T water*
1 T butter
1/2 C minced onion
1 celery stalk, minced
1/2 C clam juice*
1 1/2 lbs live clams
3/4 lb yukon gold potatoes
2 C milk
bay leaf
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 C cream

Cut bacon into half-inch pieces and combine with water in a heavy soup pot over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until water has evaporated and bacon has begun to crisp, about 8 minutes. Stir in butter, onion, and celery; continue to cook until onions are softened, about 4 minutes. Add clam juice and clams and increase heat to high. Cover the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until clams start opening, about 3 minutes. Remove opened clams to a bowl, leaving as much juice in the pot as possible. After 7 minutes, discard any unopened clams. Peel the potatoes and chop into a fine dice. Add potatoes to pot along with milk; bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, remove cooked clam meat from shells and roughly chop. Place clam meat and any juices into a strainer over a bowl; reserve liquid and transfer clams to a separate bowl. When potatoes are cooked, pour them through the strainer over the same bowl holding the clam juices. Return the strained solids and clams to the soup pot. Pour the liquid into a blender and process on high until smooth. Pour into pot with clams, stir in cream and heat to a bare simmer. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

*Note - these liquids may be replaced with the Dogfish Head beer of your choice.