Twenty-two years ago, Dogfish Head Craft Brewery was the smallest brewery in America—but now, it is one of the top 20 largest breweries in the nation and according to the 3rd annual USA Today 10Best Readers’ Choice awards it is the second best brewery tour in the nation.
This free first-come, first-served tour is given all year long and Dogfish Head Off-Centered Experience Ambassador Lars Ryan teaches and helps thousands of guests experience the behind-the-scenes of the brewery.
“We bring personality to the equipment, it’s not just a tour of the physical mechanical workings of the brewery,” said Ryan. “There are a lot of interesting stories behind the beer, so we dig deeper into that rather than giving just the clinical sanitized process.”
First stop on the tour is where the four basic ingredients of any beer are introduced, which is water, a source of carbohydrate or sugar—usually barely—hops, and yeast. Learn how the breaking up of all these ingredients turns into the delicious beer they sell, all while watching it be made. The brewing system is run through 200 barrels, about 10 times a day, and three of those batches are used to fill each fermenter, which carries up to 600 barrels.
“There are still breweries out there that focus on German styles or English styles our portfolio is a wide range,” said Ryan. “So we have beers made with wine, roots, vegetables.”
Anything guests can buy at a grocery store is what Dogfish Head adds to its beer. For example, their newest beer Unencumbered Antelope, is brewed with hundreds of freshly bought, cut, and skinned cantaloupe and cucumbers, and that is only one of the 26 beers on tap made with similar fresh ingredients-- Using no artificial coloring or flavors.
“We also take people into our distillery… where we talk about scratch-made gins, whiskey, vodka and rums,” said Ryan
Dogfish Head hospitality lead Ken Farrall has been working at Dogfish Head for the last three years and said that giving these tours is one of his favorite things to do.
“You don’t even have to be a beer lover to come and enjoy our tours,” said Farrall. “The history and learning how this company got started with a small 10-gallon system and moved up to a 200-barrel system is pretty fascinating.”
Back in the 1990’s, Dogfish Head’s original bottling line was hand produced by three guys who worked for about 10 hours a day to produce about 100 cases. Currently, they fill 650 bottles a minute, and label 715 bottles a minute, producing 1,800 cases an hour. They are on course to produce about 300,000 barrels for 2018.
“We do a really good job at telling the history talking about the brewing process having fun with our guests. The tours are fantastic.”
On the first Thursday of every month, Dogfish Head Craft Brewery breaks into cases of aged beer for its Vintage & Vinyl nights. The next one is on Thursday, May 3rd at 4:30 p.m. Dogfish Head Craft Brewery is located at 6 Village Center Boulevard in Milton.