As summer gives way to fall, Dogfish Head brewery has good news and bad news.
The bad news is the COVID-19 pandemic has forced the cancellation of the annual I Pedal Alot, or I.P.A. bike ride. The good news is the company has released two new beers, including a new seasonal saison to pair with Dogfish’s annual fall favorite, Punkin’ Ale.
On Sept. 18, Dogfish unveiled Costumes and Karaoke, a golden tea-inspired imperial oat cream ale which uses a variety of spices including vanilla beans, ginger, cinnamon and turmeric. Dogfish Head founder Sam Calagione said the drink was inspired by one of his personal favorites, the golden milk latte. The beer, which has a golden hue and goes down smoothly with a creamy flavor, is 8 percent alcohol by volume and is sold in six-packs for around $12.
Calagione said the name was inspired by how Dogfish co-workers like to celebrate: by dressing up in costumes and singing karaoke. The beer had been kicking around Dogfish’s research and development division and it was well-liked enough that Dogfish decided to bottle it, he said.
On Sept. 19, Dogfish released a second beer, only available at its Rehoboth Beach brewpub, called Re-Gen-Ale. It is Dogfish’s first beer brewed in such a way as to offset the climate impacts of its making.
Calagione said the genesis of Re-Gen-Ale started about a decade ago, when the company began seeking ways to reduce its carbon footprint, such as using ingredients brewed by local farmers. One of Dogfish’s most popular beers, its low-calorie Slightly Mighty India Pale Ale, was brewed entirely using grains sourced from local farmers, he said.
For Re-Gen-Ale, Calagione said Dogfish teamed up with Indigo Carbon, a program that provides financial incentives to encourage farmers to regenerate carbon in their soils and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Re-Gen-Ale uses house-grown yeast and wheat grown by farmers in the Indigo Carbon program. Dogfish is also planning to purchase carbon credits to offset the cost of the production and packaging of Re-Gen-Ale.
Calagione said Re-Gen-Ale is a Belgian farmhouse saison, which is noted for its pillowy, malt character. The beer itself has spicy, peppery aromatic notes, but not a lot of bitterness. He said a characteristic of saison-style beers is that they are more malt-forward than hop-forward. Re-Gen-Ale is available until supplies run out.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has forced Dogfish to make changes to how it operates – employees are tested daily and sales at the Milton brewery are by curbside pickup only – Calagione said July was the biggest month of sales in the company’s 25 years, even though Dogfish has lost 30 percent of its service capacity since the closing of dine-in/bar service at the brewery, Rehoboth brewpub, and Chesapeake and Maine restaurant.
To that end, Calagione has made requests to Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control to increase Dogfish Head’s production capacity from 350,000 barrels per year to 400,000 barrels per year and increase its barley malt capability from 14,000 tons per year to 14,857 tons per year.
Calagione said the increase will help Dogfish continue to grow, although the expansion in production capabilities does not include an expansion of facilities at this time.
The decision to cancel the annual I.P.A. or I Pedal Alot bike ride, originally set for Oct. 17, due to the pandemic followed cancellation of the Sept. 27 Dogfish Dash, said Mark Carter, who heads Dogfish’s Beer and Benevolence initiative.
“We felt the responsible thing was to not hold another event with 1,000 people,” Carter said. “It’s a bit easier to do with cyclists than runners, but we wanted to protect the safety of our co-workers and the participants, and erred on the side of caution.”
Carter said Dogfish had discussions about scheduling the ride later in the year, but with schools coming back and the possibility of a second wave of the virus, the company felt the best course was to wait until 2021.
Dogfish is exploring ways to have the ride virtually if the pandemic is still a threat in 2021. Carter said one idea would be to suggest courses that go past Dogfish properties, with riders encouraged to take pictures with a hashtag for the event. At the end of the ride, riders would be able to receive entry prizes via curbside pickup.
With the I.P.A. ride and the Dogfish Dash canceled, the last major event on the Dogfish calendar is Analog A-Go-Go, typically held in November. As of now, the company has not issued a decision on whether the event is still taking place.