Dogfish Head beer memorializes women’s suffrage

REHOBOTH BEACH — At Dogfish Head Brewery, the right to vote is best served with a craft beer.

The Milton-based brewery, in collaboration with the Delaware League of Women Voters, is releasing a limited-edition brew celebrating the 100-year anniversary of the 19th amendment’s ratification, which granted women the right to vote.

“Through our collaboration with the League of Women Voters of Delaware, we are not only helping bring awareness to this remarkable milestone, but acknowledging the courageous individuals who fought for women’s suffrage,” said Sam Calagione, Dogfish Head founder and brewer. “This is also an opportunity for us to highlight the awesome women within our own operations whose work has propelled Dogfish Head to where we are today, shining the spotlight on their incredible abilities and creativity.”

The League of Women Voters of Delaware reached out to the brewing company several months ago about creating a festive beer for the 100-year anniversary. When approached with the idea, Brew Ambassador Bryan Selders said the company’s female brewers took the lead on the beer’s creation.

“I said, ‘Heck, yeah, we’re totally going to do this. Let’s engage as many women co-workers as we possibly can to really make this beer and its celebration as authentic as it deserves to be,’” Mr. Selders said. “We had two women play a vital role in the creation of the recipe, and they joined me on the brewing day in Rehoboth Beach. In addition to that, the design of the can labels was completed by the women who work in our graphic design department.”

Chelsea Sternberg, Dogfish Head brewer, was part of the team involved. “As a woman in a male-dominated industry, I am always looking for ways to act as an advocate for women in craft brewing. Brewing a beer to honor the women that helped give me – and so many others – a voice is something I will never forget,” she said. “I am beyond proud of this project and beer.”

First Vice President to the Delaware League of Women Voters Sandy Spence said she thought of the idea to work with Dogfish Head for the anniversary because of the company’s positive reputation in the region.

“I was thinking, they’re local, and they’re well known,” Ms. Spence said. “I thought of them, and I thought it would be a cool idea because they’re cool.”

Ms. Spence also spoke on the struggles women suffragettes faced to get the right to vote 100 years ago.

“Women fought for many, many years, for decades. Some people actually died working on this project to get women the right to vote. The most dramatic was when they were demonstrating in front of the White House when Woodrow Wilson was president. He had them put in jail and they were treated terribly,” she said. “It’s really important for people today to understand how hard it was to get the right to vote, both for women and then also for African Americans.”

She noted that even in 2020, there are still struggles to protect the right to vote.

“It’s just so important for people to recognize what has gone into getting the right to vote for everybody. And therefore, it’s so important that we all respect that history and go out to vote this year,” Ms. Spence said. “Here we are, fighting again for the right to vote. Through vote by mail or what have you, it’s so important this year.”

Dogfish Head produced 310 gallons of the anniversary beer at its brewery in Rehoboth Beach, and the company anticipates selling out quickly.

The brew, titled “Centennial Suds,” will be sold at Dogfish Head’s Off-Centered Empourium in Rehoboth Beach starting on Aug. 22 for $17 per four pack of the 16-ounce cans. The 4.5% ABV American Lager is brewed with toasted rice, pomegranate, honey, hibiscus and rosehips to create a sweet, floral flavor that triumphantly compliments the 100-year anniversary, according to Mr. Selders.

“So what you have in the beer is a nice, light, crisp lager that you would expect from an American-style lager, very clean and easy on the palate. And with, that you get the nice, fruity tartness of the pomegranate, the rose hips also add another tart dimension to it, and the hibiscus brings in this really cool floral and herbal character that they carry through really nicely,” he said.

The suffrage-inspired brew is certainly not the first time Dogfish Head has released a politically motivated product. Earlier this month, the brewery quickly sold out of its limited edition “Black is Beautiful” brew celebrating the Black Lives Matter movement. The beer was part of a national collaboration in which any brewing company could brew the”‘Black is Beautiful” recipe made by Weathered Souls Brewing Company in San Antonio, Texas, under the condition that they donate the proceeds to an organization promoting equity and racial justice.

Dogfish Head donated all proceeds to the Southern Delaware Alliance for Racial Justice, a local group focused on achieving racial justice through education.

Several other coastal Sussex breweries joined the “Black is Beautiful” campaign.

“In our area, we participated, Dewey Beer Company participated, and Crooked Hammock participated,” Mr. Selders said. “It was great to have such a strong local participation in that project, as well as the amazing participation of breweries around the world.”

Mr. Selders said Dogfish Head put its own spin on the “Black is Beautiful” recipe by adjusting the portions of roasted grain in the brew to give it the brewery’s imperial signature.

“Black is Beautiful is rich, complex, characterful imperial stout that has very beautiful aromas of dark cocoa, dark roast coffee, a little bit of smoke, and really rich caramel flavors and aromas. At 10% ABV it is warming, wicked smooth, and quite satisfying.”

Although the “Black is Beautiful” brew sold out just two days after its release, Mr. Selders said bringing back old brews in the future is always a possibility.

The brewing company closed its restaurants and stores to in-person dining and shopping in early July after seeing COVID-19 cases rising in the beach town as well as in surrounding states, according to Mr. Selders. However, the restaurants and empourium are still open for curbside pick-up orders.

“We made the decision to close for dining in, and just to offer curbside contactless takeout and takeout from our store, just to make a responsible choice for the health of our coworkers, to limit the risk we’re putting them in as well as to keep our guests safe. We value them as well,” Mr. Selders said.

The League of Women voters will host a digital happy hour event over Zoom at 5 p.m. on Aug. 26, featuring female politicians such as state Rep. Valerie Longhurst. Those interested in attending can RSVP for the event on the Sussex County League of Women Voters’ Facebook page.