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Oct 3, 2013 04:55 AM

Dogfish Creates Beer From Meteorites / What should Craft Brewing be?

Dogfish Head, a craft brewery headquartered in Lewes, Delaware, has concocted “Celest-jewel-ale,” made with lunar meteorites.

It has a complex "earthiness".

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  1. How fitting that it's an Oktoberfest; considering it was the German rocket program that got us to the moon.

    1. Am I the only one who thinks this flies in the face of what craft brewing is supposed to be? Could there be a less local ingredient?

      22 Replies
      1. re: Shaggy

        I think their whole style of brewing flies in the face of craft. But I am aware that my opinon flies in the face of plethora of beer geeks and craft newbies who buy into their experiments.

        1. re: LStaff

          I think they make some good beers, and that's ultimately what it's all about. But meterorites? Putting meteorites in beer is like putting edible gold on food. It's not adding anything to the beer, it's just doing something because it's incredibly extravagant.

          1. re: Shaggy

            It has given me an idea, though. I have a 7 ounce meteorite, very dense, that I may put in my freezer and use it to keep a mug of cold beer cold on a warm day in my hammock.

            1. re: Shaggy

              According to the brewery, it affects the beer's flavor.

              1. re: Jim Dorsch

                Highly unlikely, but birth to a clever myth.

                1. re: Veggo

                  I'm guessing by your comment that you haven't tried the beer. If that's the case, then I would think you would want to withhold judgment until you have tried it.

                  1. re: Jim Dorsch

                    I have tried their beer, somewhat pricey but good. There is nothing that remains in a meteorite that reached planet earth that is water soluble, but I admire the spawning of a clever myth. A slender few of retrievable meteorites are from earth's moon, and I doubt many end up in beer vats.

                    1. re: Veggo

                      so you are saying none of the irons or nickels commonly found in meteorites would have any effect at all on taste or interact in a chemical way at ANY way along the brewing process? Seems unlikely to me. What about the iron sulfides or silicate minerals? Both have very distinctive tastes (sulfur obviously). Are you saying because they are locked up in a rock there can be zero effect on the beer itself?

                      As to the beer, this does seem extravagant and over the top a little bit. Even for Dogfish Head. Maybe if I was a meteorite collector and a beer head I would be delighted though. I know when they came out with their Robert Johnson beer I was beside myself because Im as much a blues aficionado as I am a beer head. But I give Sam a pass on most of these things and I actually like the concept of zymurgic archaeology if you will so beers like Midas Touch and Jiahu and the others from the Ancient Ales collection are fascinating and I love that they give us a chance to taste pretty much what ancient Mesopotamians or ancient Egyptians might actually have been drinking based on archaeological evidence. Some of them may go too far (the Peruvian beer made with human saliva comes to mind...) but thats ok. The effort is important. Not everyone has to be a classic lager and ale brewery after all.

                      I see DFH as the brewing equivalent of John Coltrane. Avant Garde and out there but definitely talented (and almost religious for some). Old school jazz heads didnt really get him or know what to do with him but many in the industry found him incredibly inspirational and highly influential. And they arent just hacks looking for a gimmick. They are willing to put in the time and research necessary to make these interesting brews. Others may disagree though. And frankly their 60 Minute and their Chickory Stout are good solid straight ahead beers I could drink every day. So I dont label them as strictly a platform for wacky beers and thats it.

                      1. re: Insidious Rex

                        I acknowledge it is good, unique beer, but I question how much of its flavor can be ascribed to a moon rock. I doubt my meteorite would shed a molecule if it were immersed in a tank of beer for 1000 years.

                        1. re: Insidious Rex

                          >They are willing to put in the time and research necessary to make these interesting brews.

                          They do? Didn't come off that way to me while watching their Brew Masters tv shows. They did a little research - adding whatever "inspired" ingredients they wanted to an already made beer, making one pilot batch, then tweaking it for the full production batch -which was usually only two weeks (which is rushing the process for ~9% abv beers imo) before the beer was being served to the public - whether it was good or not, or hit the desired profile or not, or if it was ready to serve or not.

                          This is where the term "craft" breaks down for me in the craftbeer world - not enough r&d, trial and error to get the exact profile desired by the brewer. Add in that I feel alot of these collaborations and weird ingredient beers are driven by marketing first and taste/desired profile is secondary and it quickly becomes crafty to me. Easy to be successful doing this when many of your customers value a new experience more than a desired experience though.

                          1. re: LStaff

                            I guess I was referring to Sam jetting all over the world to do his research for beers inspired by archaeological finds or ancient cultures. And also the fact that as far as I know Dogfish Head is the only brewery with a culinary archaeologist on staff. But I hear you with the gimmicks. The meteor thing seems unnecessary. Why not add diamond dust too? Ancient mexican chocolate beer? Yes Id like to try that please. So to me theres a difference.

                            1. re: LStaff

                              Interesting comments. One implication is that the large brewers practice more "craft" than craft brewers, at least as regards the time and effort put into developing new products.

                        2. re: Jim Dorsch

                          Have you tried it? If not, then your comment is based solely on their claim, isn't it?

                          Frankly, this whole idea seems a desparate grab for attention. I guess that's easier than making good beer.

                          1. re: ThomasvanDale

                            Dorsch doesn't need my defense here but he made no judgment he just stated the brewer's claim about the moon rocks effecting flavor. He didn't give an opinion.

                            1. re: Chinon00

                              I don't think my comment came in the correct place. What he wrote was: "I'm guessing by your comment that you haven't tried the beer. If that's the case, then I would think you would want to withhold judgment until you have tried it."

                              My point was that before you tell someone to wait until you've actually tasted the beer, he should practice the same thing (rather than quoting a promotional blurb). Reading the description leaves me with no desire to try the beer and I will not comment on the taste, but on what I take is either a joke or an attempt to grab some publicity. In either case, hardly worth a serious discussion.

                2. re: Shaggy

                  What should craft brewing be? Why doesn't this beer qualify?

                  1. re: Jim Dorsch

                    Brewing with a meteorite is doing something because you can. It sounds like it tastes good, and like I said, I suppose that's the point, and I also like Dogfish and what they do for craft brewing in general. But adding a meteorite, like my original analogy, is like adding gold to desserts. It's over the top and does very little. No one has ever said "You know what this beer needs? Meteorites.", for good reason. At a time when the craft beer industry is exploding in a wonderful way, and so many brewers are putting together whatever money they can scrape together to make seasonal beer, to focus on local ingredients and to be involved in the local beer community, brewing with a rock from space is not in keeping with what I see as differentiating craft brewing from becoming something closer to the wine industry.

                    1. re: Shaggy

                      Actually, I think Dogfish Head beers need more cowbell. Some of them already go beyond 11 though.

                      1. re: Tripeler

                        Ha ha! I think Bell actually made a beer called This One Goes To 11... No word if it was brewed with discarded Nigel Tufnel guitar pics though.

                      2. re: Shaggy

                        Craft-brewing has been all over the map (no, pun not intended) over the years as regards "local". I recall thinking many years ago that exporting beer, and perhaps even shipping it across the US, didn't fit my conception of craft-brewing. Today the industry is very much involved in exporting product, and the Brewers Association is interested in ways to export more craft beer. So, for all the talk about "local", the object in the end is to sell more beer, including to people in countries that are really far away.

                        I understand your point about the meteorite, but I also see it as very much in the brewery's tradition of brewing beers with input from archaeologists, anthropologists, etc. So, it makes sense from that standpoint. This beer also fits in Sam's wheelhouse quite well. I refer, of course, to his knack for garnering publicity.

                        Getting back to a point I made to another poster, I hope you've tried this beer. Because if you haven't, then you really can't say that its unique ingredient makes no difference to the flavor of the beer.

                        And returning to the "local" issue, I don't see our industry ever becoming really local because it's pretty much impossible to grow all beer's ingredients in sufficient quantity near each brewery. Grain and hops require specific climatic conditions to grow, and those conditions don't exist around every brewery.

                        1. re: Jim Dorsch

                          I think I can probably say that the meteorite is added to the beer as a gimmick, even if it adds flavor, without having tasted it. I understand what you're saying, but I don't agree that someone has try a beer to form an opinion what goes into it, how it is marketed or sold. I've never tried the most expensive beer in the world, but I think it's not worth the money. That doesn't make me automatically wrong for not having tried it. Also, anyone posting to this board probably has had the best beers in the world, and is probably also a home brewer, so we are arguing among experts, and in my opinion, adding rocks to a beer will not have a significant or positive impact on flavor. If it did, then why didn't Dogfish add rocks from their backyards? They didn't add common rocks because those rocks wouldn't be "wacky". I agree with your points about local though, perhaps that isn't the best way to describe craft brewing. Like I said, I respect Dogfish, and they are good craft brewers, but in my opinion, this is just trying stuff to do it.

                          1. re: Shaggy

                            I agree that you don't have to try a beer to judge how it's marketed, etc.

                            You (or someone, I'm lazy tonight and not checking) commented that the meteorite couldn't change the flavor (or something along those lines). I maintain that one would need to taste the beer to really know if that was the case.

                            I agree that with that exception, one wouldn't be off base to say all sorts of things about the beer, having not tasted it.

                  2. Bosco? Didn't Bosco from Nashville use heated rocks in the brewing process?

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: MOREKASHA

                      Boscos did a steinbier. Heated rocks were added to the wort, inducing a boil and caramelization. The rocks were then removed. Brimstone in Baltimore also made a stone beer; they are long gone.

                      1. re: Jim Dorsch

                        Steinbier is nothing new. It is an old German practice that certainly adds a caramelized edge to the beer.

                        1. re: Jim Dorsch

                          Still have some Brimstone, I was aging long before it was the norm, then again, maybe I forgot about them in my closet.

                          1. re: MOREKASHA

                            Nice. Should be a great treat when you finally pop that thing. Does that have a wax seal?

                            1. re: Jim Dorsch

                              Yes it has the seal. Come to NYC Jim and I'll share.

                      2. What should craft brewing be? Authentic and the real deal made with love. May it not degenerate as the vodka industry did, into stratospheric prices for fancy bottles containing a simple flavorless liquid.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: Veggo

                          Craft aka micro brewing has always had it's air share of hucksters and market driven product. During the first wave, how many animal brands were there? Now, it's imperial this, safron lava pork infused this or that. Now, some of these brews might be good, but in the long run, if a brewery is chasing after the next big thing will they have the legs to stand the test of time? Ed's cave creek chilli beer.....

                          1. re: MOREKASHA

                            Much of this activity is being driven by demand this time, as expensive beers are selling briskly, and obviously generating lots of margin dollars for sellers.

                            You can find plenty of ill-thought beers in the mix, but I don't think they're being made by clueless business types, as was often the case in the '90s.

                            Your question about what will stand the test of time is a good one.

                            1. re: MOREKASHA

                              Do you have examples of craft breweries that you feel are chasing after the next big thing?

                              1. re: RB Hound

                                Just remember the great Wit scare and the great weiss beer scare. Black Wit anyone?

                          2. The term craft beer for me suggests a smaller batch, seasonal, hands on approach to the beer making process. Normally for a niche market.

                            So you can have smoked, stoned, pumpkin, blueberry, meteorite, or even edelweiss flavored and I am fine with that. The market will decide on the success or failure of the brand.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                              The term "craft" for me simply means well made beer, irrespective of batch size, brewery size, and marketing hype.

                              And, as is becoming more and more apparent, "smaller/ artisanal" does not always equal "better", and "bigger/industrial" doesn't always mean "worse".

                              As to Dogfish and their gimmicky shtick...more power to them. They make some decent beers, and some pretty bad ones. The hype (along with a few decent products) has rewarded them with a loyal following. And whether I'm a fan of theirs or not, my hat's off to them for making such a go of it in the retail jungle.
                              Sam knows his core audience and he caters to them quite well, that's for sure.

                              1. re: The Professor

                                Isn't his core audience really 60min drinkers?

                                1. re: LStaff

                                  Noooo, DFH = "off-centered ale for off-centered people".