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Dogfish Head and the World Science Festival

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Last week we were asked to contribute 5 gallons of fermenting wort to Cheers to Science! Nordic Grog: Brewing on the Wild side, as part of the World Science Festival. The presenters for this event were University of Pennsylvania bio-molecular archaeologist Patrick E. McGovern, known as the Indiana Jones of ancient ales, wines, and extreme beverages and Sam Calagione, the founder and owner of Dogfish Head Brewery. Sam asked the producers of the event if he could have some actively fermenting wort as part of the program so he could have on stage during the presentation. The WSF contacted us and we were happy to oblige. The wort ended up on the bar they set up and was happily bubbling away, there wasn't enough lighting for it up on the stage! I met Sam right before the presentation and he was just the nicest, friendliest, most sincere guy you can imagine. He thanked me for supplying the wort and got my information for a shout out to the store during the talk. That was just over and beyond, I really appreciated it. John L and Sam Calagione The talk itself was fascinating. Sam and Patrick had been traveling the world to different archeological sites getting data from ancient drinking vessels. Through gas chromatography and mass spectrography they would analyze the ingredients of what ancient people were drinking. During the presentation they poured three examples of beers they made from the data they collected. The first one was from a 9,000 year old discovery in China called Chateau Jiahu. Made with rice, barley honey, grapes and hawthorn fruit, it was sweet yet a little tart. It reminded me of a melomel (a mead with fruit added to it). The food they used to pair with it was spicy popcorn, kind of strange. The next beer they poured was a Nordic Grog called Kvasir. Sam and Patrick teamed up with Swedish brewery Nynashamna Ångbryggeri, to develop this recipe. The source was a 3,500 year old Danish drinking vessel that was buried with a women who was either an upper class dancer or priestess. This brew is made from wheat, lingonberries, cranberries, myrica gale, yarrow, honey and birch syrup. Myrica gale and yarrow root are components in Gruit, the spices that were used in European beer until hops started to be used (around the 1400's). This beer was drier, a little tart with a unique flavor from the fruit spices and was paired with oatmeal cookies (again, a weird pairing). It was my favorite beer of the three. The last one Sam made exclusively for the event. Only one keg was made! This one was a wild yeast ale. By this point everyone was a little tipsy and they were running out of time so I didn't get to catch the ingredients. Before pouring it Sam said this beer was very sour but for me, it wasn't sour enough. They served chocolate covered pretzels with it. I guess to balance the sour but it didn't work for me. Although I do love chocolate covered pretzels so I was happy. Sam Calagione Time MachineDuring the talk, Sam pointed out that humans have been brewing for 10,000 years and it wasn't until the Reinheitsgebot (the German purity law) of 1487 that beer was defined as water, malt and hops (yeast was added later when it was discovered). Until then there was no definition. Sam called the Reinheitsgebot Art Censorship. I have always been interested in anthropology and archaeology and I think the work these two are doing is amazing. Afterward I got to speak with Sam again. I invited him to the store and he said next time he's in Brooklyn he'll stop by. Awesome! When I got home a few hours later I got a call from one of the producers of the event, the wort was bubbling out all over the bar! Keep brewing uncensored! John


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