Thursday, March 15, 2012

WOCAAWN Round Two!

What a weekend. This year the Haymans and Kelemens headed to their second annual Weekend of Compelling Ales and Whatnot. We were also lucky enough to have Josh Hoke (head brewer of Liquid Hero) join us. You can read last years write up here.

Where to begin...we arrived in Milton, DE at the Dogfish Head Brewery around 11AM on Saturday. Our first order of business was to head to the tasting room and stock up on beverages before diving head first into the tastings. There was a good selection available this year, I was able to pick up some Pangea, Namaste, Chicory Stout, Ta Henket, and a lovely 4pack of 120 Minute IPA. Usually when I head to a brewery I like to get something other than beer to remember my trip, but after spending about 20 minutes wandering around the DFH store, I realized, I have just about everything, glassware, shirts, a sticker for the Jeep, coasters, and even a Sam Calgione singed DFH sign. Bummer. Then while standing at the register to pay I did see the new DFH sign with a picture of the treehouse and the slogan "Analog beer for the digital age", ya, we'll take one of those.

So Lauren and I were loaded up and we headed back to the Jeep to stow the goods. Let me paint the scene..Ryan carrying one of those large 750ml case boxes, and Lauren carrying a large brown bag with two four packs in it - new sign under her arm....walking to car:

Ryan: (inside head) "Oh, there's a curb here, let me step down"
Lauren: (inside head) "This chicory stout inside this bag is going to taste so good"

Yes ladies and gentlemen, my lovely wife took a fall scuffing both knees and twisting an ankle. The first thing out of her mouth? "It's ok, I saved the beer". Gotta love her! So that was the first contestant for "Most Memorable Moment"...there are others.

After we made sure we got all of the beer safely to the car (and made sure Lauren was ok...of course) we headed into the tent to start the festivities. Upon entering and showing our tickets we got a special 2012 sampling glass, a special 2012 WOCAAWN tile coaster, and our sampling card. I have to give credit to DFH, they really had their act together this year. The tastings (15 of them) were spread out over a large tent on the lawn, and there were a few inside the tasting room and a few by the bocce ball courts. The flow was great, practically no lines, and the crowd of 400 people was spread out so there was plenty of room just about everywhere.

The tastings were, Aprihop (with cheese pairing), 120 Minute IPA, Immort Ale (cheese pairing), Midas Mojitos, Red & White, Black & Blue, My Atonia (pretzel from spent grains pairing), Namaste (cheese pairing), Sah'tea, Ta Henket, Chateau Jiahu, Palo Santo Maroon, Burton Baton, Dirty Fermentini, Diablo Verde.

When stamped correctly it read "Off Centered Ales".

Most Memorable Moment Contestant #2 - Josh got to talk shop with Sam of DFH! Most Memorable Moment Contestant #2.5 - Sam mentioned Josh and Liquid Hero Brewery in his presentation to the entire tent! Ladies and gentlemen...instant celebrity = Josh Hoke. So Sam mentioned LHB / Josh, out of nowhere pops the paparazzi and cameras, Ken and I supplied security and quickly rushed Josh away from the crowds and to safety. OK, it didn't happen exactly like that, but plenty of people did make their way over to our high top table to meet Josh and ask about Liquid Hero. Did I mention Josh brought growlers of Liquid Hero beer to share with Sam, and did I mention that while Josh and Sam were talking they set a time to meet in the tasting room to swap beer? Well I have now, so after a few more samples we headed back to the Jeep to get said growlers and head in to meet Sam.

At this time I'm proud to present the Most Memorable Moment Contestant #3 and WINNER! - the moment Josh opened up the cooler to find 4 growlers, 4...empty growlers. We forgot the beer, this misfortune was a total team effort, a mixture of oversight, and bad communication. Lesson learned, but poor Hoke. This brewers dream, to meet Sam Calgione, owner of Dogfish Head, and the opportunity to share his wares with him, shattered, right there at the tailgate of my Jeep in a parking lot in Milton Deleware. I'll never forget his face the moment we all realized we forgot to get the Liquid Hero growlers out of the fridge that morning.

At the end of the day it was ok, Sam thought it was pretty hilarious, and Josh had some LH tshirts and glassware for Sam that we did remember to bring with us. I'm happy to report that as of writing this, communications between LHB and DFH were made, and there is some Liquid Hero traveling through our lovely postal system on it's way to Dogfish Head right now.

The rest of the day included more tastings (Hoke was very thirsty by this point) a private tour (thanks Steve!), a stop at the nacho bar, and the opportunity to watch some DFH employees brew a small batch on what I think was the origianl 10bbl Sabco system Sam started on.

With our sample cards full, we headed to the brew pub in Rehoboth Beach DE for some grub. The food highlights for me were the antelope sliders and the fish 'n chips (made with dogfish of course). Our evening concluded with a walk on the beach, some late night wings and brews (butter beer!) at the Rehoboth Ale House, and a short stroll back to the hotel where we shacked up for the evening.

We were lucky enough to even make the official Dogfish video! Look for Kenny rocking the orange and black and all of us walking down the sidewalk at the :30 mark.

A huge thanks to all the great people at DFH, to Sam Calgione, Steve for the awesome tour, and the great firends we met there. If after reading this you're thinking - that sounds awesome I want to go next year - keep an eye one the Dogfish website, tickets are limited, and sell out fast. If you're lucky enough to get a ticket, we'll see you down there next year!

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