Dogfish Head Brewery and classic American clothing company Woolrich recently joined forces to create a limited batch of custom beer. The 4.5% ABV rye pale ale, called Pennsylvania Tuxedo, is brewed with spruce tips and named after the “red-and-black checked hunting jacket with red-and-black checked pants” that woodsmen wear in New England, according to Dogfish founder Sam Calagione. Dogfish will serve the beer at five beer dinners happening along the Eastern Seaboard this summer.
But the two American-made companies didn’t stop the collabo at beer—Dogfish and Woolrich have also created a nautical-inspired capsule collection, featuring a chambray men’s button-down with red and green anchor buttons, a women’s beach cover up, a 100 percent-wool throw blanket (which can be found in all 16 rooms at the recently-opened Dogfish Inn in Delaware), a beach hat, and a beer koozie.
We spoke with Calagione and Woolrich executive vice president Josh Rich about creating the spruce beer and the clothing line, and what brought the two companies together in the first place.
How did the Woolrich-Dogfish collaboration come about?
Calagione: I reached out to the Rich family after we started using their famous checked fabric as the wallpaper in our tasting room [at Dogfish Head Brewery]. I read the [Woolrich] founder’s journals, and in it he talked about farming for wheat and rye, and that he almost died falling off the rafter drinking his homemade spruce beer. So I was like, “Hmm, let’s see if we can do something to bring that beer back to life.” So that’s what led to the recipe—we’re using wheat and rye in the beer the same way the Rich family has for many centuries.
We went up with the Rich family and clipped the fresh spruce tips as they were coming off the trees, then quickly brought them down to the brewery, and the next day—using those tips—we brewed this beer called Pennsylvania Tuxedo.
What is the story behind the name of the beer?
Calagione: “Pennslvania Tuxedo” is what they call it when you wear a red-and-black checked hunting jacket with red-and-black checked pants, which I think is going to be a new popular fashion.
At what point in the brewing process do you incorporate the spruce tips?
Calagione: When you’re brewing a beer, the earlier in the process that you add an ingredient, the more it contributes to taste; the later in the process you add an ingredient, the more it contributes to aroma. So we added the fresh spruce tips at the end of the boil, which is about halfway through the meaningful part of the brewing process, so you get some spruce in the taste and some in the aroma.
How can our readers get a taste of Pennsylvania Tuxedo?
Calagione: This year we’re just serving five kegs of it at events that we’re doing as we travel up the East Coast [Calagione and his son, Sammy, are making an ocean journey up the East Coast to raise funds for charity. The trip’s final stop is in Dogfish Head, Maine]. We will be promoting the line of nautical-themed clothing we did in collaboration with Woolrich, as well as the spruce beer. But next year at this time, we hope that Pennsylvania Tuxedo will be out in bottles.
Josh, how was it working with Sam?
Rich: He’s amazing. To be honest with you, he’s got a great team to work with. Sam has so many ideas, so many projects in the hopper. He’ll call us up and say, “We need this, this, and this,” and it’s like, okay, how do we make this happen…by yesterday? At this point, he’s become a good friend and I look forward to more collaborations with him. Dogfish is a small, family-owned business, just like Woolrich is a family-owned business, so I feel like we share small-town values. But both Woolrich and Dogfish have a much more global and national appeal in terms of what our product stands for and who we sell to.
What was your relationship to Dogfish and beer prior to the collaboration?
Rich: I had been a huge fan of Dogfish—just as a consumer—for years. When the opportunity came about, it was something entirely new for our company. Woolrich has done collaborations with many different kinds of companies, but this is the first time that we got into the food and beverage arena, so it was something interesting and new for us to get involved with. And what better partner to have than Sam?
So you guys were just sitting around and drinking Dogfish beers, wishing for a collaboration?
Rich: Yeah, exactly.