Beer Wednesday – Dogfish Head

Happy Beer Wednesday! While in Delaware recently, the Blonde and I went to visit the Dogfish Head Brewery, in Milton. Before heading up, I checked the website, only to find that they were booked. The tours were full… I was crushed… I called, and asked what the chances were that we all four of us (me, the Blonde, and her parents) could sneak in. The response I got was to come by and worst case scenario, we could get some free beer for our trip.

I was sold right there.

The brewery was under construction, being expanded to more than triple the output of the 16th largest craft brewery in the country.

While I was standing at the bar, sampling the four free beers that were available for tasting, I made it a point to ask the bartender if he was aware of any beers that use any animal products. As it turns out, other than honey, there are no beers produced by Dogfish Head that use any animal products. No isinglass, no bacon, no weird lizard parts. Period.

I don’t love the fact that they use honey, mostly because I remain torn about vegans eating honey, but I do try to avoid it whenever possible. I mean, the vast majority of honey isn’t really honey anyway. It’s mostly re-digested high fructose corn syrup, so it isn’t really what we think of as honey anyway.

The tanks that are used to make the beer are sterilized weekly, using mostly just boiling water, and the mash, or grain that is used in making the beer, is processed into a few products, among them, cattle feed.

I’m not sure how I feel about that. The mash is used to feed cattle on a local farm, which then supplies Dogfish Head with locally raised beef for their restaurant. Do they have other options? sure, but not too many. According to the Beer Activist, there are a handful, like compost, animal feed, mushroom soil, and bioplastics. Will all of these be enough, well, maybe, and maybe not.

So, does every bottle of their beer go to supporting the beef industry?  I don’t think so, but I’m torn. I mean, I’m sort of supporting them, in so far as I’m taking part in keeping their costs down, but at the same time, everything we buy is supporting so much other than the immediate mission of the company we buy it from.

Ugh. . . When did everything get so complicated?

I’m going to make an executive decision, and say that Dogfish Head beers are vegan, but are not always vegan-friendly. Drink them, as they’re way better than a beer that uses animal-derived filtering ingredients, but be aware that some of the karma you get, you’re feeding to omnivores.



The Bottling Room, where cases of delicious, delicious beer are filled with happy bottles!


Are these bottles empty, or just waiting to be filled?


Samples of every beer are kept for years, so they can be sampled later for, ummm, awesomeness. . .


A pallet of grain seems like a lot, but really, it’s barely a drop in the bucket.


Now, imagine two of those four filled with lovely 90-minute IPA.


The day’s samples. I can’t recommend the Burton Baton enough.


The first real continuously hopping machine. The new one is called the “Sofa King hopper.”






~ by VegansHusband on May 8, 2013.

4 Responses to “Beer Wednesday – Dogfish Head”

  1. I love brewery tours. Doesn’t really matter that the process changes. It’s hard when you start getting into the grey areas of animal compassion. I’d really be looking to see how those animals that get the by-products are treated.

  2. Jealous! I would love to visit their brewery. Mostly to drink beer but also to play in the kick ass tree house. We’re you allowed in it?
    I had no idea they gave their spent grain to feedlots in exchange for meat. That makes me sad, it’s too bad they don’t have an alternative, like give it to an animal sanctuary or something. I view it similar to buying vegan products at a non-vegan store, you can’t win em all since the world is not 100% vegan friendly. It’s kind of a tricky area that everyone has to figure out for themselves.

    • There was a gate for the treehouse, and I figure I’m too afraid of heights to go up, so…

      The alternatives for their spent grain saddens me too, and you’re right. As soon as the world is vegan, I’ll only buy beer from vegan breweries at vegan stores.

  3. […] happy to be sharing a beer that I bought at Dogfish Head’s brewery when I went on their brewery tour. First, a little back story […]

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