A sneak peek inside Dogfish Head Miami, opening May 21
If you're a hardcore Dogfish Head Brewery completist, pack your bags.
The Delaware-based brewery is expanding in May, opening a new facility outside the state for the first time.
And if you're thinking it will be in New England, given its 2019 merger with Boston Beer Co., you'd be wrong.
Instead of skis, Dogfish fans will be packing bathing suits when Dogfish Head Miami opens in the city's Wynwood neighborhood, three blocks from Biscayne Bay.
The new South Florida location at 325 NW 24th St. is set to open Friday, May 21 as work continues in the former Concrete Beach Brewery, which closed last summer. While the kitchen is currently being constructed, the brewing equipment has been up and running for a while now.
Expect a Dogfish experience with 1,300-miles-away SoFlo twist, pairing Dogfish Head's "off-centered" beers, music and fonts with a more tropical vibe, complete with a DJ booth with two turntables and a microphone.
Sam Calagione, the brewer who founded Dogfish Head with his wife Mariah in Rehoboth Beach nearly 26 years ago, said the decision to plant the Dogfish flag in the Magic City was driven by one of Dogfish's oldest traditions: brewing with unique recipes.
With year-round farms pumping out the majority of America's citrus fruit in Florida, Calagione teamed with a local tropical fruit expert to plot new brews with Paul Frederickson, Dogfish Head Miami's head brewer.
"We're really getting experimental with fruits and crops to use in our fruited sours and beers," Calagione said from his Lewes home following a recent trip to Miami.
Calagione, Frederickson and University of Florida Tropical Fruit Crop Specialist Jonathan H. Crane's first creation involves carambola, or starfruit, which is grown an hour's drive from the brewery. The beer is called Star Pucker Florida-Fruited IPA, a 6.2 percent ABV beer brewed with Florida-grown starfruit.
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Miami-Dade County is the seventh most populous county in the country, giving Dogfish plenty of potential new customers. Throw in the Miami art, music and culinary scenes, and Calagione was easily sold on Florida for the spinoff.
He makes it clear that it's coincidence that Dogfish Miami's arrival comes amid his daughter's freshman year at the University of Miami.
"We announced just after she was like, 'I'm asserting my independence and moving far away,'" he said, laughing at the memory. "She's probably less happy about it, but she's acclimating."
Miami-only beers, cocktails and menu
Just like at Dogfish Head's Delaware breweries, fans can expect exclusive access to experimental beers and one-offs.
But unlike the cans produced in Dogfish Head's Milton brewery, which are shipped around the country, Miami's canned beers will remain in the local market as an exclusive. That means you'll have to head south if you want to crack open a cold Star Pucker or any of their other brews.
In addition to Star Pucker, Dogfish Head Miami has a trio of new beers slated for its opening:
►Robot Mutiny, 7.1 percent ABV, a dry-hopped hazy IPA with a "fruity, citrusy hop aroma."
►Madam Roselle, 5.2 percent ABV, a rose-hued sour wheat ale made with Florida-grown passion fruit. Tropical fruit notes include mango, strawberry and lychee.
►Immortal Palms, 5.5 percent ABV, an experimental lager incorporating
all of the major ingredients of Florida palm trees: açai, hearts of palm, coconut
water and palm sugar.
When it comes to cocktails, Dogfish will unveil its house-made MojitAle, which previously had a debut run at Milton's Dogfish Head Tasting Room & Kitchen. Its take on the traditional Cuban cocktail blends fermented barley, wheat and cane sugar infused with lime juice. It's muddled with mint leaves and fresh lime and poured over ice.
Beer slushies made with Dogfish Head sours, which have also been served in summer months in Milton, will also be on the Miami menu.
Said Calagione: "We're going to have a lot of fun breaking down barriers between beer and spirits and cocktails."
The kitchen will also reflect the brewery's hip, new locale with small bites of Southern Florida cuisine, leaning on tapas using local ingredients over larger entrees. Expect to find barbacoa bao buns, grilled street corn, seared tuna tacos and Florida lobster gazpacho among the offerings.
New toys and a familiar design with a twist
The front of the Miami brewery features a white Dogfish Head sign in its trademark font against a familiar Dogfish dark green that covers the building. In the same green, "Miami" is written in script beneath the sign, setting this Dogfish apart.
While traditional green dominates the outside, the new beer cans from Miami offer dazzling neon colors of pink, purple, red and yellow drenching both the can design and the Dogfish Head Miami logo.
If you're getting a "Miami Vice" vibe off of it all, that's probably the point. Dogfish Head Creative Director Paul Thens helped bridge traditional Dogfish with the new Miami vision, complete with murals and graffiti art.
"The colors are a lot more vibrant than the more rustic, colonial color palette of our Rehoboth location," Calagione said.
The brewery will partner with nearby Sweat Records to host live acts on a stage that will also host DJs spinning indie rock and other Dogfish favorites.
Dogfish Head Miami has a few new toys, too.
First up is the SeaQuenching Engine, named after the brewery's SeaQuench Ale, a citrusy-tart session sour that debuted five years ago and quickly became a top-seller.
The machine, developed specifically for Dogfish Head Miami, uses a house-grown strain of lactobacillus bacteria to continually produce wort for their sour beers.
Many more sours made with Florida fruits like Madam Roselle are expected in the coming months through Miami's "tArt Series." Next month will include the release of Fresa Menta, a sour wit ale brewed with strawberries and spearmint.
The other new eye-catcher is also a tongue-twister: the Randall the Enamel Animal. (Got that?)
Building off Calagione's 2002 invention of the Randall – a device that infuses beer with flavor-enhancing ingredients – Randall the Enamel Animal allows you to infuse ales with anything from fruits and spices to hops and candies.
With a glass chamber, customers can watch the action as the filter makes its magic.
Boston Beer muscle helped in Miami
While Dogfish Head is a well-known brand outside of Delaware, its breweries have always lived in the First State.
Sure, they have licensing agreements with a trio of Dogfish Alehouses in Virginia and Maryland and have had partnerships with spots such as Eataly's New York rooftop brewpub Birreria, but the beer-making always happened here.
Expanding in such a large way into a new region takes backing. And for Dogfish, the timing of its $300 million merger with Boston Beer helped add muscle to Calagione's team working to make Miami happen.
In 2019, he said he was in talks with other cities "a little closer to home," but the Miami location was "kismet" when discovered, combining the beach with a new agricultural playground.
"It's the biggest, most expensive project we've undergone in the past two years," Calagione said, pointing to another recent large-scale project, the building of a seven-barrel research and development brew system in Milton, which is an exact replica of its 200-barrel brewhouse.
If you're a Delaware Dogfish diehard wondering what's next for Dogfish Head, the Miami location proves that you probably have to start looking beyond our borders. After more than 25 years under our roof, Dogfish is now officially bigger than our small state can contain.
As Calagione jokes, "Road trip! Road trip! It's another good thing about lining up for your vaccine."