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Olde School

Sat, 08/25/2012 - 4:47pm

We just wrapped up our first ever Olde School Retreat and it was a real good time. 


This event is basically a hang out and thank you to a bunch of publicans who have been champions and cheerleaders of Dogfish specifically and craft beer since way back in the day. We played a speed bocce tournament (5 seconds to throw each ball) and the top three teams took home four cases of vintage strong ales going back nearly a decade.  We hung on the beach and swam off our hangovers.  It was not as pretty a picture as, say, 'Blue Lagoon.'  And we caught up and talked shop and beers we are digging one these days during some wonderful meals together.  The finale was a beer dinner at our pub overlooking our distillery prepared by Dogfish's own Chef Dennis and San Fran-based Chef Adam of Monk's Kettle and Abbot's Cellars.  Each course was paired with a cocktail from our distillery , a small batch beer from our pub and a batch of something special from our Milton brewery. 


We also snuck up still fermenting wort to sample off, a beer our pub brewer Ben made this week with Chef Adam and I .  We brewed this one for a beer dinner we are hosting at James Beard House in NYC   It's called Beard De Gaurde and it's an homage to that olde school culinary luminary  brewed with a few of his favorite things including fresh off the vine green peppercorns, smoked whiskey malt and local apples. 


We are looking forward to hosting a new group of olde school beer publicans at next years second annual Olde School Retreat.  Here are some brief reninnesences of magical moments I have had enjoyed over the years with the fine folks who joined us this year:


Some time in 1997 I did my second beer tasting event ever in NYC at The Gate. Bobby and I sat at the end of his mostly empty very new bar.  We both trades stories of our anxieties about failing and shutting down our businesses in between giving samples of Dogfish beer to the few people who wandered in.  Of course The Gate is now packed and recognized as one of the grandaddys of the Brooklyn beer scene.  


Max’s in Baltimore: Casey hosted me and my old pal Bryan Selders on our world tour of beer dinners as our alter egos of rapping brewers in our beer-geek-hip-hop band The Pain Relievaz.  Casey ran an event downstairs and our event upstairs simultaneously.  Our event started with people looking at us funny when set up in the corner with our boom box and mic stands. .  Three hours later they were still looking at us funny but digging our beers and tapping their toes every so slightly to our punishing beats and rhymes. 


The day after that show we headed to Barcade in Brooklyn for the next stop on our world tour. Bryan threw up in our tour van (actually a Honda Element) as we approached the George Washington bridge.  That moment made me feel like I finally made it as a white beer geek rapper. That is until we reprirised out rhymes to about 200 people and a hundred video games at Barcade.  The beer bard himself Michael Jackson was in the house that night and we got to sing our song 'Go Olde School' right at him that night with the line " we wouldn't be here without Michael Jackson."  Paul from Barcade also directed our first music video to that hit single.


I rememeber returning to where I grew up in western Mass right around 2000 to do a dinner a pretty new place in amherst called Moan and Dove which was the number one 90 Minute IPA account in New England.  It was a Christmas themed beer dinner and my mom blushed when Daniel recited Allen Ginsberg poems heavy with four letter words from atop a milk crate behind the bar.   


I remember Dave and Diane hosting me and a bunch of other brewers for my first beer event anywhere ever outside our brewpub at the famous Brickskeller in Washington DC. This was is in early 1996 and I served a keg from our original batch of Aprihop.  The brewer who got on stage after me started off by saying fruit belongs in a salad not in a beer. That guys' brewery now makes two beers with fruit in them annually.  When I got home from the Brickskeller the day after that first beer event I ever went to I walked into our pub in Rehoboth and saw that all go our brewing grains were ruined because a pipe froze over the pallet of grains and burst and soaked them all in the middle of the night. 


I remember when I was still the only sales man and delivery guy at Dogfish Head   I drove our delivery truck and two pallets of beer up to Pittsburgh.  Dino was showing off their expanded beer store and D's Six Packs and Dawgs was one of the earliest supporters of Dogfish's big 750 ml bottled beers. Today manager Hootie was telling me they stock over 1300 different beers.  But way back then Dogfish Head was still struggling to survive and I slept on the mattress in the back of the box truck a couole blocks away.


I remember when Greg was the Manager at Rustico in DC before he opened Churchkey and Birch and Barley   I arrived late for a beer dinner and he helped me unload the kegs from buckets of ice in my truck just before the dinner started   It was a great dinner and by the end I was sitting with a snifter of 1999 world wide stout and a cigar.  I remeber Greg asked me to put out the cigar out but asked if he could get another keg if the stout. 


I remember hosting our annual night before Night Before The Night Before Christmas beer dinner at The Sierra Grill with O'Brian and Megan many years ago. O'Brian had recently banged up his shoulder and was wearing a sling but ran a flawless beer dinner once handed on a cocktail of cask ale and Advils.


I remember Scoats and I dressed in freakishly frilly and colorful outfits serving beer together in his Grey Lodge Pub in Philly to celebrate the Mummers parade and the opening of his upstairs dining room.   He brought great beer to a part of that city where it didn't exist.


I remember my first time ever doing sales in Philly sometime around 1997. Tom Peters had yet to open Monk's Cafe and his other establishments and was then the manager at a place called Copa Too. I walked up to him with three samples of beers in a plastic bucket.  He tried them and immediately ordered kegs of Chicory Stout and Immort Ale.  I walked out of there thinking "this whole selling beer in the cities thing is going to be easy."  None of the other six places I stopped into that day ordered any of our beer. 


I remember Patrick & Roz telling me on the phone they were going to come down and visit our brewery with a few of their regulars at the bar they ran in NYC called Rattle N Hum.  They showed up with a bus and 52 of their regulars.  We showed them a good time. They are now running Alewife Queens with Daniel and Brian runs Alewife Baltimore with Daniel. 


I remember making an unannounced pitstop on a toad trip with my family at an account in Worcester, MA called Armsby Abby that was selling a lot of our beer and local sourced food.  Alec and Sherri were up all night with their new born and were down the street working on the bakery they were opening. They still made time to drop what they we're doing to drive to see us and have a beer with Mariah and I and our kids on their front patio. We chatted about how hard, but how rewarding it is to run a company with your spouse. They are making it work...


And so are all of these guys are who joined us at the first Olde School Retreat; for Dogfish and for so many other craft breweries. For that we are very thankful.