It is no secret among lovers of craft beer that Delaware’s Dogfish Head brewing, in addition to their wildly popular lineup of IPAs (60-, 90-, and 120-Minute), are more than willing to get a little experimental. They’ve used everything from licorice root to birch syrup, gesho root to brown rice syrup. But all of that seems positively quaint in light of the beer they announced today: On November 7, Dogfish Head will start shipping Beer For Breakfast, a 7.4 percent ABV stout brewed with… scrapple.
For those of you who've managed to live your whole life without encountering scrapple, it is a pork product that puts to use more parts of the pig than you ever knew existed — all of them mashed together with a bunch of spices into a troubling-looking loaf-type mold, and then cut into big thick slices and pan-fried. It's eaten primarily in Pennsylvania, and generally treated like any other breakfast meat.
As you may have suspected, scrapple is not the only adjunct in Beer for Breakfast, and it's also not the main one. The beer also features Guatemalan Antigua cold-press coffee, brown sugars, maple syrup, applewood smoked barley, milk sugars, and roasted chicory.
Dogfish founder Sam Calagione was kind enough to answer a few questions about Beer for Breakfast, scrapple, and morning drinking. I forgot to ask him if the name of the beer is a reference to the best Replacements song, but… let's just go ahead and say that it is.
So, scrapple! What element of it most shines through in the beer?
In descending order of flavor/aroma impact for the beer as a whole: roasted coffee, maple syrup, applewood smoked barley, and fourth would be scrapple. The scrapple adds a subtle earthy, smokey note.
What effect does cold-brew coffee have on the beer that’s different than using whole or ground beans?
It makes the coffee less bitter and acidic when added late in the brewing process, and by adding it after the vigorous fermentation it allows the toasty, aromatic notes to stay present and pleasant in the beer.
If you’re in Philly 10 days throughout the course of a year, how many of those days are you eating scrapple?
Pretty much exactly every other one of those days. You need to rotate it in religiously between the cheesesteak days.
What would you say to a person who hasn’t had scrapple and is maybe a bit scared off by its appearance and its, as you put it, “everything but the kitchen sink” makeup?
Remember the first time you made out with someone… new, exciting, perhaps the experience induced a certain sort of bodily tingle? I'm not a doctor but I believe that's essentially identical to the experience of trying Beer for Breakfast from Dogfish Head. The roasted coffee and maple notes pull you in for the big payoff. The scrapple is subtly flirty and adds complexity in the background.
The internet loves to joke about drinking beer for breakfast — but you seem like a fit and sensible man. Under what circumstances will you actually partake in a morning beer?
Circumstantially speaking, like, this morning? But maybe that's because I am in Cleveland doing beer events and celebrating the game one win of the World Series with our local Ohio Dogfish distributor. Or maybe because it was morning a few hours ago and I am an adult and can decide for myself when the best time is to have a beer… Plus, if you do a half an hour of yoga to start the day, it helps right the ship and free up space in your insides for Beer for Breakfast. And downward dog rules as a hangover aide.