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Dogfish Head Alehouse, A Delaware Brewery with Three DC Area Locations

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#51 ICD

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Posted 26 August 2009 - 06:29 PM

The Dogfish Head menu always looked to me to be quite similar to the Applebee's menu. I agree that the food is mediocre not just in the selection but in the execution, which is a shame because the beer is quite good.

I disagree, I've always found their food, for what they're trying to be, pretty good. For some odd reason, I really enjoy their fried seafood platter, maybe the beach connection.

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#52 theakston

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Posted 27 August 2009 - 09:01 AM

There is now an Alehouse in Fairfax @ 13041 Lee Jackson Memorial Hwy. Same menu and same beer selection as the others but it made for a good lunch stop on the way to the airport last weekend. I usually get the burger or the grouper sandwich, but the beer is the real reason for visiting.

#53 Rovers2000

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Posted 27 August 2009 - 09:08 AM

I've eaten at the Seven Corners location a few times (I generally get the Chesapeake pizza which has crab and asparagus over a pesto). I think the food is good and the service, especially in the bar area, has always been extremely friendly.

Do I go in here expecting a culinary epiphany? Absolutely not. I go in expecting decent food and some great beers with friendly service(the bartenders are always up for creating interesting black and tans using the various levels of IPAs and always offer tastes of new items, etc) and I have to say up to this point, they have yet to miss the mark.

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#54 cigarnv

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Posted 09 September 2009 - 05:28 AM

6 of us went to the new Fairfax location this past week for dinner and were not impressed. Beer was good as always but the food was poor to average at best. We also got slugged for an automatic 18% gratuity for a party of 6 which I did not notice and over tipped another 20%. I should have paid closer attention to the bill so I accept full responsibility for the error but was surprised to see the add on for 6 folks. Possibly I am just out of touch....

#55 dcs

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Posted 09 September 2009 - 06:53 AM

Chicha. Amusing story.

#56 pras

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Posted 26 November 2009 - 03:40 PM

Although I find no fault with the food at DFH, the reason to go there is to drink, imo, the best brews in the country. I love heading here to see what DFH rarities they have on tap.

#57 DonRocks

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Posted 02 November 2012 - 04:30 PM

Actually, I doubt growlers will be available since this will not be a brewpub. None of the beers will be brewed on site, so they can't sell growlers of beer to go per VA law. The DFH franchises are basically what are called "tied houses" in the UK: a place that only serves one brewery's beer. DFH does not own these places, but licenses their name and logo to the franchise owners in exchange for them serving their beer. They also have some say over decor and the type of food offered.


I had a couple hours to kill the other evening, so I pointed my car in the direction of Fair Lakes or Chantilly thinking in the back of my mind that I'd be updating one or both of those threads (if anyone has any current information on Dining in Fair Lakes or Chantilly, please, have at it).

I turned off I-66 onto Fairfax County Parkway, drove past the places of my nightmares (Joe's Crab Shack, Logan's Roadhouse), sticking out from the trees like scary monsters.

Hitting Route 50 without seeing anything that made me bite, I headed west, toward Chantilly, and came up upon the Greenbriar Town Center (home to the original Total Wine & More (formerly called Total Beverage) in the DC area). I turned in, and traced the periphery looking for an ethnic mom-n-pop.

Then I saw Dogfish Head Alehouse, and thought to myself: 'well, why not?' It was a Friday evening, and the place was jumping, with the patio full (with an accordionist playing), and the inside packed to the gills - I considered myself lucky to get a seat at the bar.

Fully 18 beers were offered on draft, ranging from the 5% ABV Shelter Pale Ale to the fearsome 12% Palo Santo. It was right before Halloween, and the Punkin' Ale ($6, 7% ABV) caught my eye because of a big, bold sign dangling with a quote from Ale Street News which said this was "the best pumpkin beer we tasted." I really enjoyed it, with its overtones of clove and nutmeg, and it fit right in with the whole Oktoberfest atmosphere.

There was also a special Oktoberfest menu, and I noticed that they were featuring Lothar's Sausages (which I had first seen in a restaurant only a few weeks before, at Magnolias at the Mill). From the regular menu, I ordered the Alehouse Bratwurst ($10), two wood-grilled bratwursts (presumably from Lothar's) on pretzel rolls (baked "just down the road by Bakery de France") with beer-seasoned banana-pepper sauerkraut. It came with a little bowl of very good chili, and some tortilla chips for dipping.

If I'm making these bratwursts sound good, then I'm writing correctly because they met, then surpassed any possible expectations I could have had coming from the kitchen of such a slammed alehouse. "Because our wood grill imparts a unique, savory quality to the food, the need to garnish it with an over-abundance of sauces and what-nots does not exist," the menu teased. And sure enough, it was right - I highly recommend ordering anything here that has been simply grilled, especially these sausages.

Dogfish Head's beer is unpasteurized, and "uncluttered with additives," a sign says. I asked my friendly bartender, who had introduced himself by name earlier, for something malty, and he gave me a little taste of the Indian Brown Ale ($6, 7.2% ABV), and it was good enough to order a pint. I thoroughly enjoyed both of these beers, and combined with the brats, this meal was better than it had any right to be.

This alehouse takes great pride in being a member of the community. "If your community organization needs help," write to us, it says on the menu. How many places actually go out of their way to issue calls for charitable help like this? The whole scene was heartening - here was an ultra-high-volume operation, that had just served me a great plate of food, and beers that make Sweetwater Tavern's look just plain pathetic. Dogfish Head has a huge cult following, and I've never been part of the cult, but this evening was giving me pause.

One of the managers came up to a gentleman sitting next to me at the bar, and said, "We're having a kick-assed night here - there was a 2-hour wait at 5:30!" And I believe it.

I was so impressed with the night that I didn't want it to end, and wanted to share it with others. So I bought my son the exact same Alehouse Bratwurst as a carryout order (and when I picked him up at 9 PM from his football game, he positively devoured it, and raved about it just as much as I am). And I went ahead and bought a growler of the Punkin' Ale so I could enjoy another beer in the safety of my home - these growlers are prominently advertised at the bar. "How much are the growlers?" I asked another bartender. She said, "They're $8 for ones with screwtops, and $25 for the ones with ceramic tops." Sounded good to me - I live pretty close to the Falls Church Dogfish Head Alehouse, and I'd be going back often to get it filled. The screwtop would be all I needed since the contents wouldn't survive longer than a couple of days in my possession.

So it was around the time where I had to leave and pick up Matt. I asked for the check, and when it came, everything was fine except one thing: the cost to fill the growler with the Punkin' Ale was $22. I wasn't quite processing what I was seeing, but the bartender was standing in front of me, about to take my credit card. The growler was filled, and sitting right next to my carryout order. It was that "awkward moment" when you felt rushed, and felt like something wasn't quite right, but you didn't really have a whole lot of time to think. As I handed her my card, I said, "I have a question." She looked at me and smiled (she had been perfectly friendly the entire evening). "Why is this growler so expensive?"

At that moment, her glance shifted away from my eyes, her smile vanished, and she said, without any hesitation at all, "I don't know, I'm not the one who sets pricing."

Okay, so I figured that I was just "missing" something, that the growler was maybe bigger than it looked, or that the Punkin' Ale was some sort of super-expensive seasonal beer that I had just paid a huge premium for. So I paid the check, left a decent tip (although not 20% for the growler), and walked out to my car.

I looked at the growler, and it was 1.89 liters, or about 64 ounces. That's a little over 5 bottles of beer. So that meant I paid about $4 per 12-ounce bottle.

Then I thought to myself, 'My goodness this beer is expensive,' but when I looked at my check, it was only $6 for a 16-ounce draft, so something wasn't adding up. Was there a mistake? Did I underpay for the draft?

At that moment, I felt somewhat ripped off, but I wasn't quite sure what had just happened.

And then the days passed by, and I forgot about it.

Two nights ago, I was in Baltimore, and went to a downright scary liquor store in a run-down strip mall. They had the 90-Minute IPA in 4-packs for $9.99. I bought one, and enjoyed the beer immensely - I really like the 90-Minute much more than the 60-Minute. But that got me thinking about the Alehouse again, and so I did some research.

I called all three area Dogfish Head Alehouses, and asked them about growlers. The Gaithersburg location doesn't sell them, but both the Falls Church and Fairfax locations do. They are, indeed, $8 for the one with the screwtop, and $25 for the one with the ceramic top. Then I asked about how much it cost to fill it with both the Punkin' Ale and the 90-Minute IPA. And sure enough, the Punkin' Ale was $22, but the 90-Minute IPA, at both locations, was $38.

At that moment, I thought back to her glance shifting away from my eyes, her smile vanishing, and her saying, without any hesitation at all, "I don't know, I'm not the one who sets pricing."

I didn't realize it that night, but my bartender had completely disavowed any association with the growlers, and I don't blame her one bit. Paying $38 for 64 ounces of Dogfish Head 90-Minute IPA is the equivalent of paying SEVEN DOLLARS AND TWELVE CENTS PER BOTTLE. That's $7.12 per bottle, purchased in bulk, in a growler that you paid separate money for, and are going to consume at home.

In comparison, the 90-Minute IPA I bought in the Baltimore liquor store was $2.50 a bottle.

My next call was to Total Wine & More in Chantilly, about a 50-yard walk from the front door of Dogfish Head Alehouse. A gentleman answered the phone, and I won't say his name.

I asked to speak with someone who knew about the beer selection, and he assured me he did. I asked him if he had either the Punkin' Ale or the 90-Minute IPA in stock. He remembered they had just sold out of the Punkin' Ale, and said they had the 90-Minute IPA. I asked him how much the 90-Minute IPA was, he put me on hold for a minute, then came back and said it was $9.99 for a 4-pack - the exact same price I had just paid in Baltimore.

"I have a question for you," I said. How is it that Dogfish Head Alehouse is able to sell growlers of the 90-Minute IPA for $38?

He started laughing. "Because they're insane," he chortled. I pressed him further, and he responded candidly: "One of the ongoing jokes here is that all of their employees come here to buy their Dogfish Head." I asked him how they could get away with selling these for so much money. A growler of beer should cost absolutely no more than you'd pay at retail, and the hugely vast majority of the world would think it would cost a great deal less. This is bulk purchasing. It's shopping at Sam's Club.

"People go there and have a good time," he said. "They drink a few beers, and they want to keep the night going, so they buy a growler to take home." Then he added, "And they have no idea how much they're getting ripped off."

The figures speak for themselves: $2.50 a bottle at full retail; $7.12 a bottle if you buy a growler.

They don't brew the beer in the alehouses; they brew it at Delaware, so you can hardly make "freshness" as the argument for the almost triple-retail pricing.

In the meantime, I have a Dogfish Head growler to give away to anyone who wants it. If I don't hear from anyone within a week or so, I'm going to recycle it because there's no other use for it that I can see, and I want it out of my house.

These alehouses are supposedly franchised, so I'm going to give the brewery the benefit of any doubt and absolve them of any responsibility for this blatant consumer rip-off. But hopefully they will at least be made aware of the situation. The night I made full discovery, I got really ticked off and mentioned them in a tweet, but I'm going to delete it because, just as my bartender completely divorced herself from the predatory pricing of these growlers, I'm hoping that the brewery has as well.

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#58 mtureck

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Posted 02 November 2012 - 04:55 PM

Ouch.

I wouldn't mind not getting a bulk discount...even if it's not brewed there, kegged beer is probably better than bottled...but a mark-up like that is just crazy.

#59 stupidusername

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Posted 02 November 2012 - 04:58 PM

In my experience, growlers in bars are usually way overpriced and similar to what you experienced. Rarely makes financial sense to buy a growler of a beer that comes in a bottle although it can be kind of fun just to have your own container for whatever reason. They are nice to have for brewpubs or other small operations where bottles can't be had. I think they view it as a slight discount from ordering 5 beers in the bar/restaurant. So if you bought 5 beers in the bar, they would be about $8 or $9 each for a 90 minute IPA for about $45 so you got a deal at $38.

#60 JimRice

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Posted 02 November 2012 - 05:13 PM

I'm a fan of the Dogfish alehouses, and yeah, the growler fills at Dogfish are a ripoff. It's like they're pricing it insanely high so that it costs the same whether you're drinking it at the bar or at home. However, the prices of the bottled beer at Total Wine makes it hard to swallow.

OTOH, I think a growler of beer at Port City Brewing is $11. And they also make fine beers.

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#61 Pat

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Posted 02 November 2012 - 05:41 PM

The night I made full discovery, I got really ticked off and mentioned them in a tweet, but I'm going to delete it because, just as my bartender completely divorced herself from the predatory pricing of these growlers, I'm hoping that the brewery has as well.


It's still archived by the Library of Congress, whether you delete it or not. FYI.

#62 DonRocks

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Posted 02 November 2012 - 05:44 PM

It's still archived by the Library of Congress, whether you delete it or not. FYI.


Oh, it's already been retweeted, too. I'm not trying to annihilate its existence; merely to remove myself from the equation going forward. Everything I have to say has been said in the post above.

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#63 Kev29

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Posted 03 November 2012 - 09:48 AM

Hold on to the growler and bring it to Port City, Mad Fox, DC Brau, etc - I think they all fill other growlers (for around $10-$15). It still keeps its $8 value as a recepticle for getting re-fill prices at other breweries. And at DC Brau you can often get styles at the brewery not available in can or bottle, so it's more than just a price/value thing + you definitely get that brewery freshness. I'm sure other breweries would be happy to put their sticker on top of the DFH logo if you don't want to look at it. :P

#64 DonRocks

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Posted 03 November 2012 - 10:03 AM

Hold on to the growler and bring it to Port City, Mad Fox, DC Brau, etc - I think they all fill other growlers (for around $10-$15). It still keeps its $8 value as a recepticle for getting re-fill prices at other breweries. And at DC Brau you can often get styles at the brewery not available in can or bottle, so it's more than just a price/value thing + you definitely get that brewery freshness. I'm sure other breweries would be happy to put their sticker on top of the DFH logo if you don't want to look at it. :P


You do know that because of your post, I'm going to do this, right? I've never been to DC Brau, and I think it's high-time for a visit.

Nothing against Dogfish Head the brewery - that 4-pack of 90-Minute IPA was really good.

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#65 SeanMike

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Posted 03 November 2012 - 10:59 AM

Honestly, I'm surprised that a) it took you so long to realize that and b ) that you had that much of a reaction to it.

The first time I went to the DFH Alehouse in 7 Corners I noted the prices and made it a point not to buy anything there but what I was consuming there. The prices are to catch folks who are like "OMG this is so good!" and don't know, hey, I can walk next door to SFW and buy the same thing much cheaper.

(Then again, I've never understood the appeal of growlers to begin with. They're bulky, they impose a time limit on how long to drink the whole thing once you've opened it, they're a pain in the butt to clean...but whatevs.)

Speaking of the 90 Minute IPA - Bailey's, in Ballston mall, has been selling their 22 ounce mugs of it for $5. Well, at least if you have their specials card (which I do from years ago). $5!!!!! I can't drink two in a row because they're so rich, but alternating them with some Angry Orchard cider and BOY HOWDY is it hard to walk home afterwards!

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#66 B.A.R.

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Posted 03 November 2012 - 11:17 AM

Honestly, I'm surprised that a) it took you so long to realize that and b ) that you had that much of a reaction to it.


Ditto.

It seems to me that the growlers are priced, by volume, at a slight discount over the same beer served in the restaurant. Is the price extreme, especially relative to retail? You betcha. But is this really different than if you were in a restaurant and decided you wanted to purchase a bottle of wine from the wine list "to go" for $30, then realizing you bought the same wine at Arrowine for $12?

But this does remind me that I have three empty Growlers at home, and need to get 'em filled somewhere other than Dogfish Ale House

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#67 DonRocks

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Posted 03 November 2012 - 11:20 AM

The prices are to catch folks who are like "OMG this is so good!" and don't know, hey, I can walk next door to SFW and buy the same thing much cheaper.


I've been thinking a fair amount about why this situation made me so angry to begin with, and why I kept getting more and more angry as time passed.

There have only been a handful of times in my life (and I mean less than five) where I've really, really hated and/or gone after someone. In each instance, there was a common theme: abuse of power. I entrusted a person, or a business, who, as a result of my blind trust, was put in a position of power over me, and my trust was completely betrayed.

Something about *that* particular human violation - abuse of trust - galls me more than anything. It generates the same type of gut-level bile that would happen if you were short-changed by a cab driver in Rome, or got your cell-phone grabbed-and-snatched by a guy jumping off the Metro. The financial loss is negligible; you nevertheless expend enormous amounts of mental energy summoning every Haitian voodoo curse you can think of, wishing death and misery on him and all his descendants (and the guy's probably just trying to help feed his grandmother).

Unless there's some explanation that I'm unaware of, Dogfish Head Alehouses are guilty of this very same moral crime. This pricing shows nothing but contempt for innocent consumers, and is perhaps a fatal flaw - if they'll do this, what wouldn't they do? I couldn't care less that I paid ten bucks too much for the contents of my growler; it's the other hundreds, perhaps thousands, of innocents that are being ripped off in the same fashion.

Honestly, I'm surprised that a) it took you so long to realize that and b ) that you had that much of a reaction to it.

Ditto.


Simple answer: I'd never been.

It seems to me that the growlers are priced, by volume, at a slight discount over the same beer served in the restaurant. Is the price extreme, especially relative to retail? You betcha. But is this really different than if you were in a restaurant and decided you wanted to purchase a bottle of wine from the wine list "to go" for $30, then realizing you bought the same wine at Arrowine for $12?


And I *knew* someone would bring up the wine analogy, and am thus prepared to address it. Early last decade, when prices of Bordeaux started going crazy, Zachy's in New York would run double-page ads with prices that were so high (way, way over current retail) that everyone who knew anything at all would just laugh at them. But you know what happened? The market eventually adjusted upward, and met those prices. It's the same thing Starbucks did with coffee, two dollars now being the norm for something that was previously 59 cents (although a legitimate argument can be made that Starbucks upped the quality vis-a-vis Dunkin' Donuts). I think Dogfish Head Alehouse is doing a similar thing with growlers, setting an artificially high price as if they were some type of "rare item for the privileged." At the end of the day, there's nothing I can do because nobody was holding a gun to my head, and they're not doing anything illegal.

But listen to you guys justifying things!

You know, it would be another story if the cost of the growlers had been posted, but they weren't, or at least not that I could see. This is not unlike the situation with the specials at Al Tiramisu. In both cases, you have businesses who know their prices are way higher than the norm, and customers who order without asking the prices because they have reasonable expectations as to what the norm should be. And while I'm at it, I'll add that this situation is a cousin to DC putting speed cameras in places where it's easy to speed.

If I shine the spotlight on this very dubious pricing scheme, and either cost them some business, or force them to lower their prices via social pressure, then I've done my good deed for the day.

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#68 jasonc

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Posted 03 November 2012 - 05:21 PM

Don, when I read your account, which was a good read, I got angry and upset for you as you built up to the realization that you paid a great deal more than you should for the growler of beer.

However, and this draws a great deal on what seanmike said, I think it can be reframed.

In particular, this is a restaurant/bar that seems to provide excellent food and beer at a pretty good value. In order to do that, they sell growlers of beer at a premium for those who wish to maybe have something they can't get at stores, or that will serve as a keepsake. Maybe they think it's fresher than beer bottled and shipped to wherever they normally buy beer. Either way, the prices are available if one asks, and they don't seem to make the representation that this is a better deal than buying it at stores.

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#69 DonRocks

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Posted 03 November 2012 - 06:07 PM

Don, when I read your account, which was a good read, I got angry and upset for you as you built up to the realization that you paid a great deal more than you should for the growler of beer.

However, and this draws a great deal on what seanmike said, I think it can be reframed.

In particular, this is a restaurant/bar that seems to provide excellent food and beer at a pretty good value. In order to do that, they sell growlers of beer at a premium for those who wish to maybe have something they can't get at stores, or that will serve as a keepsake. Maybe they think it's fresher than beer bottled and shipped to wherever they normally buy beer. Either way, the prices are available if one asks, and they don't seem to make the representation that this is a better deal than buying it at stores.


You frame this well, and I do acknowledge that I'm overreacting. And I'm really not *so* upset about this that I have some type of bloodlust vendetta going on.

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#70 B.A.R.

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Posted 03 November 2012 - 06:57 PM

because they have reasonable expectations as to what the norm should be.


But the norm in the restaurant is a high quality, reasonably priced, fairly hefty draft, yes?

I assume the sell 5x?10x? 20x? more pints than growlers. If the growlers were priced slightly above retail, per volume, the entire bar would say "Why am I paying $6 for 16oz of Punkin Ale when you'll also sell me 64oz for $15?"

I'm guessing they price the growlers artificially high in order to maintain the $5, $6, and $7 price of the drafts in the restaurant - not merely to gouge*.

*but I WAS ready to boycott!

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#71 DonRocks

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Posted 03 November 2012 - 07:06 PM

But the norm in the restaurant is a high quality, reasonably priced, fairly hefty draft, yes?

I assume the sell 5x?10x? 20x? more pints than growlers. If the growlers were priced slightly above retail, per volume, the entire bar would say "Why am I paying $6 for 16oz of Punkin Ale when you'll also sell me 64oz for $15?"

I'm guessing they price the growlers artificially high in order to maintain the $5, $6, and $7 price of the drafts in the restaurant - not merely to gouge*.

*but I WAS ready to boycott!


This makes about as much sense as anything I've thought of or heard, but, it doesn't explain the lack of forewarning. That having been said, it's very possible the prices were printed on a large and prominent sign, right in front of my eyes, and I just didn't see it because I wasn't even thinking to look. If that's the case, then I don't think they're doing anything wrong - their pricing is, literally, their business and not for me to question. But, if that's the case, why would they have the growlers at all? I'm pretty sure that my bartender's retort, "I don't know, I'm not the one who sets pricing," has been said many times - it just came out too quickly and naturally for it not to have been. She was a perfectly pleasant person before that moment; at high levels of stress, humans revert to basic training. Mark Slater once told me that when he was at Citronelle, and a customer ordered an unusually expensive wine, he would walk over with the wine list, stand next to the customer, and put his finger right on the price, saying "is this the one you want, ma'am?" (*) It's a discrete and effective method that avoids potentially costly and embarrassing mistakes, and also protects the restaurant from last-second protests. If these prices are to remain in effect, it would be nice for the customer to have an active warning. Again, maybe it's there and I just didn't see it - it just doesn't make sense for a restaurant doing this much volume to have an institutional rip-off scheme in place for such relatively small-volume things, but if they sell only 5 of these a day, then the overcharge alone seems to add an extra $100 daily, or about $35,000 annually, in pure profit.

Not five minutes ago, I was down in my kitchen pouring myself another glass of 1999 Willi Schaefer Wehlener Sonnenuhr Kabinett :) While I was there, I picked up the growler, and visualized spending $38, plus a 10% tip, plus 9% tax (the city of Falls Church tacks 4% onto the Virginia 5% restaurant tax), to fill this little thing with 90 Minute IPA. That would be $45.42, or almost NINE DOLLARS per 12-ounce bottle, and again, that doesn't include the money spent on the growler itself (which, of course, averages down each time you refill it).

(*) Ha ha, I caught you, reader, engaging in gender discrimination.

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#72 JBag57

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Posted 03 November 2012 - 09:42 PM

This makes about as much sense as anything I've thought of or heard, but, it doesn't explain the lack of forewarning. That having been said, it's very possible the prices were printed on a large and prominent sign, right in front of my eyes, and I just didn't see it because I wasn't even thinking to look. If that's the case, then I don't think they're doing anything wrong - their pricing is, literally, their business and not for me to question. But, if that's the case, why would they have the growlers at all? I'm pretty sure that my bartender's retort, "I don't know, I'm not the one who sets pricing," has been said many times - it just came out too quickly and naturally for it not to have been. She was a perfectly pleasant person before that moment; at high levels of stress, humans revert to basic training. Mark Slater once told me that when he was at Citronelle, and a customer ordered an unusually expensive wine, he would walk over with the wine list, stand next to the customer, and put his finger right on the price, saying "is this the one you want, ma'am?" (*) It's a discrete and effective method that avoids potentially costly and embarrassing mistakes, and also protects the restaurant from last-second protests. If these prices are to remain in effect, it would be nice for the customer to have an active warning. Again, maybe it's there and I just didn't see it - it just doesn't make sense for a restaurant doing this much volume to have an institutional rip-off scheme in place for such relatively small-volume things, but if they sell only 5 of these a day, then the overcharge alone seems to add an extra $100 daily, or about $35,000 annually, in pure profit.

Not five minutes ago, I was down in my kitchen pouring myself another glass of 1999 Willi Schaefer Wehlener Sonnenuhr Kabinett :) While I was there, I picked up the growler, and visualized spending $38, plus a 10% tip, plus 9% tax (the city of Falls Church tacks 4% onto the Virginia 5% restaurant tax), to fill this little thing with 90 Minute IPA. That would be $45.42, or almost NINE DOLLARS per 12-ounce bottle, and again, that doesn't include the money spent on the growler itself (which, of course, averages down each time you refill it).

(*) Ha ha, I caught you, reader, engaging in gender discrimination.


Don,

I hope I don't sound too much like Yogi Berra, but for someone who gets out a lot, you don't seem to get out much! (at least not in the beer world) So I am putting part of this "shock" on your apparent inexperience.

Even the prices that Port City charges at their brewery are at least slightly above the "per ounce" cost of buying their product in bottles at retail,. and they might possibly even have the benefit of no distributor (middle man) adding "value"/cost. You should take your growler to your nearest Whole Foods (maybe Idylwood for you--but I am not sure they have growler fills--take a trek out to the one at Fair Lakes) and start pricing fills. They might not hit the $38 dollar mark for something like 90 Minute, but there are plenty in the range that you paid for the pumpkin ale, and there will be some up in that $38 range. While most of the Whole Foods also sell beer by the pint for on-site consumption, they don't really have the same excuse that B.A.R. mentioned above, along the lines of, "we have to charge a premium, otherwise you will start complaining about what we are charging you to drink in house as a patron".

Bottom line, you should expect to pay a significant premium to retail for anything you might buy in a growler. For me, growlers have a useful purpose for obtaining beers that I generally cannot get in the retail market. Example: Port City Revival Stout, which was not bottled this time around--I paid 9.00 for a half growler (32 oz.) a couple of times at Whole Foods (probably cheaper at the brewery, but there is a convenience factor), whereas a six-pack, had it been bottled, would have probably been $11 or $12 bucks, for over twice as much beer (72 oz.).

I haven't bought a growler from Sweetwater Tavern in quite a while (and their beers are not pathetic compared to Dogfish Head--you sound like you might be part of the "cult" that you claim not to be), but they, and the old "Old Dominion Brewpub" are the only places I can think of, other than the breweries themselves, that somewhat fairly price(d) their growlers relative to real or hypothetical retail prices. But still not below retail.

#73 DonRocks

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Posted 03 November 2012 - 11:33 PM

Don,
I hope I don't sound too much like Yogi Berra, but for someone who gets out a lot, you don't seem to get out much! (at least not in the beer world) So I am putting part of this "shock" on your apparent inexperience.
...
Bottom line, you should expect to pay a significant premium to retail for anything you might buy in a growler. For me, growlers have a useful purpose for obtaining beers that I generally cannot get in the retail market. Example: Port City Revival Stout, which was not bottled this time around--I paid 9.00 for a half growler (32 oz.) a couple of times at Whole Foods (probably cheaper at the brewery, but there is a convenience factor), whereas a six-pack, had it been bottled, would have probably been $11 or $12 bucks, for over twice as much beer (72 oz.).
...
I haven't bought a growler from Sweetwater Tavern in quite a while (and their beers are not pathetic compared to Dogfish Head--you sound like you might be part of the "cult" that you claim not to be), but they, and the old "Old Dominion Brewpub" are the only places I can think of, other than the breweries themselves, that somewhat fairly price(d) their growlers relative to real or hypothetical retail prices. But still not below retail.


JBag, thank you for this response. You're right, I really don't "get out much" in terms of the beer world, and most of my consumption these days is a random six-pack purchased at retail, or singles purchased at dinner. Every time I see Thor Cheston or Greg Engert in a restaurant, and turn myself over to their expertise and wisdom, I'm invariably left with the bottom half of my jaw firmly planted against the bar, dropped in awe over what they selected for me.

The only thing you wrote that I'd ruffle up against is about Sweetwater Tavern: I think their beers are just plain lousy - flavorless, and mono palatial.

Also, I received a private note in response to this thread which (with the author's permission) I reproduce in its entirety (anonymously, at his request). It's insightful, insider-y, and worth reading:

I've typically found the price of growlers at brewpubs to be not much lower than the price of the beers on tap by volume. Sometimes there are pleasant exceptions.

But when you ask why they even sell growlers, I believe there's a simple answer. And it's not about the profit. Growlers are usually sold at brewpubs, and Dogfish would very much like patrons to perceive their "alehouses" as brewpubs. It reinforces the idea of craft brewing and local product in a way that comes across very differently than being a franchised operation that only serves one brand of beer. Just seeing "growlers available!" makes the patron think the product is fresher and better than what they could get at a store or the bar down the street that also serves Dogfish Head beers, whether or not they're buying a growler.

I don't *know* this is the case, but that's my read on it.


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#74 B.A.R.

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Posted 04 November 2012 - 08:13 AM

Completely agree with anonymous as to the "why?' they even sell growlers.

Completely agree with Rocks about Sweetwater. There was a time when I would go to Sweetwater just for the beer- and I would always fill up on growlers.I stopped drinking their beer about 5 years ago because the quality just plummeted. I still order a beer every once and a while at a GAR restaurant, and it generally reaffirms my opinion that the beers are dreck. Your mileage may vary.

Now, I think I will head to Baying Hounds Aleworks today to fill my growlers, as they said I could bring my dogs (Coonhound & Bloodhound)! Woof !

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#75 JBag57

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Posted 04 November 2012 - 08:49 AM

Completely agree with anonymous as to the "why?' they even sell growlers.

Completely agree with Rocks about Sweetwater. There was a time when I would go to Sweetwater just for the beer- and I would always fill up on growlers.I stopped drinking their beer about 5 years ago because the quality just plummeted. I still order a beer every once and a while at a GAR restaurant, and it generally reaffirms my opinion that the beers are dreck. Your mileage may vary.

Now, I think I will head to Baying Hounds Aleworks today to fill my growlers, as they said I could bring my dogs (Coonhound & Bloodhound)! Woof !


So, now it is me who does not get out much, at least not to Sweetwater Tavern! :blink: Interesting that you say the quality plummeted starting about 5 years ago, as I have probably only been into the Merrifield and Sterling locations once or twice since 5 or so years ago, before which I was a more regular customer. While on those visits, I did enjoy what I drank, as I recall, I was ordering dark, roasty beers like stouts or porters (I don't remember exactly which ones I had). As my buddy who is a former homebrewer has always told me, it is a lot easier to hide mistakes in those styles of beer...

Baying Hound Aleworks sounds like a great idea for a road trip for today, BTW!

#76 SeanMike

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Posted 04 November 2012 - 12:52 PM

A friend of mine, who is a homebrewer, has been thinking a lot about what it'd take if he wanted to make some money off his beer. I brought up what you mentioned on growlers. He's bought a number of them from various places, and his take was: "If I had to charge what Sweetwater charges, I couldn't make money. If I could charge what Whole Foods or DFH does, I would."

(As a side note: he mentioned that he talked to the "brewer" at Sweetwater, and the guy basically told him, "I come in once a week, I put in the ingredients they tell me to, and I go home." Which explains a lot about their beers versus, say, some other joints locally...)

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#77 thistle

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Posted 04 November 2012 - 05:29 PM

Well, you were totally ripped off w/ your growler-last time I picked up a growler was memorable-NYE '97, Glenwood Springs, CO -I had a young child, we were staying at the Denver hotel, opposite the Amtrak station, ate at a good Mexican restaurant, spent either that night or the next one at the hot springs, w/ the snow falling (amazing), & Michael Kennedy crashed into a tree, a few miles south of us, at Aspen (disturbing to wake up to). The beer was very good... You should definitely try to fill up the growler somewhere else...

#78 saf

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Posted 04 November 2012 - 10:45 PM

Hold on to the growler and bring it to


Or to Three Stars. They are doing some really good stuff and don't bottle any of it yet.

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#79 Bart

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Posted 09 November 2012 - 11:16 AM

Don -

I'm very late to the party, but I don't understand your response to the "wine" example above.

Wine by the bottle is 2 or 3 or 4 times as much in a restaurant as it is in a regular store. When all is said and done the restaurant probably charges 4, 5, or 6 times the price they pay for a bottle. Wines by the glass have even larger markups percentage wise.

The other day I ordered 1 glass of a Virginia in a downtown restaurant. The price was 15 dollars for the GLASS and I was happy to pay it because I don’t get out often and I wanted to support VA wines. But I just checked the price on the winery’s web site and it’s 25 bucks for the entire BOTTLE. (the numbers in the first paragraph may be off, but this example is accurate)

How is that any different than what Dogfish is doing? I'm not happy about it, but doesn't everyone do it?


#80 genericeric

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Posted 09 November 2012 - 04:02 PM

Don -

I'm very late to the party, but I don't understand your response to the "wine" example above.

Wine by the bottle is 2 or 3 or 4 times as much in a restaurant as it is in a regular store. When all is said and done the restaurant probably charges 4, 5, or 6 times the price they pay for a bottle. Wines by the glass have even larger markups percentage wise.

The other day I ordered 1 glass of a Virginia in a downtown restaurant. The price was 15 dollars for the GLASS and I was happy to pay it because I don’t get out often and I wanted to support VA wines. But I just checked the price on the winery’s web site and it’s 25 bucks for the entire BOTTLE. (the numbers in the first paragraph may be off, but this example is accurate)

How is that any different than what Dogfish is doing? I'm not happy about it, but doesn't everyone do it?


It's an interesting comparison, but having purchased growlers of the in-house brewed beer from probably a dozen or so microbreweries (many with restaurants, a few without), they are almost always cheaper than buying individual pints or, where available, bottles at retail.

For wine - most of the time, the restaurant is selling wine produced by a third party. This is similar to JBag57's example above of a growler of Port City being more expensive at Whole Foods - also a case of the product being sold by the 3rd party.

Why does that matter? Not sure to be honest, but it does seem to. For many smaller breweries, their outposts are their primary source of distribution - it is in their best benefit to sell as much from the source as they can. If Dogfish is going to continue to claim microbrewery status, being compared to others seems fair.

*Full disclosure I am an avid fan of Dogfish and not really an unbiased third party.

#81 Koozebanian Fazoob

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Posted 09 November 2012 - 04:25 PM

To get technical, Dogfish isn't a Microbrewery, they're a Craft Brewery. To classify as a Microbrewery, you need to produce less than 15k Barrels/year, and Dogfish is well over 75k at this point.

#82 DonRocks

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Posted 09 November 2012 - 04:50 PM

I've read all these intelligent comments, and wish I had something to add, but I've pretty much said everything I have to say. Yes, the growler prices are rip-offs, and I'm miffed at the arrogance behind the pricing - I think it shows contempt for the consumer. But I'm not so upset that I'm boycotting the place or anything. Maybe the fact that it's not an actual brewery justifies a higher price for the growlers; but try as I might, I just cannot fathom double or triple retail.

This is not like buying a bottle of wine to take home - restaurants that sell wine "to go" don't go to any extra trouble, or possess any special equipment - they just grab the bottle, stick it in the bag, and slap it on the bill (sometimes at a discount) - there's no good reason for them *not* to offer this as an option.

However, the very raison d'être (bad pun, fully intended) of these growlers is home consumption, and home consumption only. Some macho neuron in the back of my brain also feels that the name "growler" adds about five dollars to the cost (picture some guy in a cowboy hat and beer belly (or better yet, some yuppie riding a Harley) saying, "Yup, gonna go git' me a growler of Blue Ribbon and watch the god damn demolition derby."); if the vessels were called "blaupönten," or some such thing, the appeal wouldn't be quite the same.

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#83 ol_ironstomach

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Posted 10 November 2012 - 01:01 AM

However, the very raison d'être (bad pun, fully intended) of these growlers is home consumption, and home consumption only. Some macho neuron in the back of my brain also feels that the name "growler" adds about five dollars to the cost (picture some guy in a cowboy hat and beer belly (or better yet, some yuppie riding a Harley) saying, "Yup, gonna go git' me a growler of Blue Ribbon and watch the god damn demolition derby."); if the vessels were called "blaupönten," or some such thing, the appeal wouldn't be quite the same.


Maybe not, but what will you care once you've achieved unglaublich Trunkenheit?

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#84 TedE

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 09:42 AM

Not to defend them here, but isn't the situation in the VA "brewpub" a little more complicated than this? DFH actually licenses their name to another operator, they don't own or run the restaurant. And that operator doesn't even get their kegs directly from DFH; they are sold to a distributor and then the "brewpub" buys them just like any other establishment. At the risk of running on too long, read this.

My guess is that the owner is establishing growler prices based on what the individual drafts contained within said growler would go for. Which defeats the purpose and is stupid. It reminds me of the time I paid $24 for a six pack of Miller Lite at a hotel bar (it was last call and that's all they had left in bottles; we didn't want to stop the party :wacko: )

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#85 ad.mich

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 04:24 PM

It reminds me of the time I paid $24 for a six pack of Miller Lite at a hotel bar (it was last call and that's all they had left in bottles; we didn't want to stop the party :wacko: )


Ever bought a 6-pack in one of the Verizon Center suites? That makes the hotel price sound like a bargain.

I've never been to any of the DHA locations in the area - do they really not have anything on tap that is not already available in bottles?

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#86 TedE

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Posted 13 November 2012 - 09:44 AM

I've never been to any of the DHA locations in the area - do they really not have anything on tap that is not already available in bottles?


They may have tap options that aren't available in bottles, but those options are whatever is available through the distributor. In that sense I don't believe they have access to any exclusives from the brewery. DFH bottles a pretty staggering range of their product; aside from a couple one-offs at ChurchKey or something I can't recall much that makes it out of DE in kegs only.

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#87 cjsadler

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Posted 13 November 2012 - 12:44 PM

They may have tap options that aren't available in bottles, but those options are whatever is available through the distributor. In that sense I don't believe they have access to any exclusives from the brewery. DFH bottles a pretty staggering range of their product; aside from a couple one-offs at ChurchKey or something I can't recall much that makes it out of DE in kegs only.


The Rehoboth brewpub serves some one-off beers that aren't available in bottles (I just took a look out of curiosity and they have 5 exclusive brews on tap right now, including a chocolate-lobster stout :wacko: ), but I've never seen anything at the DC area places that wasn't also available in bottles except for the "mixed" beers: 75-Minute (half 90 and half 60 Min) and Black and Tan (half Chicory Stout and half 90-Minute).

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#88 TedE

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Posted 13 November 2012 - 01:03 PM

The Rehoboth brewpub serves some one-off beers that aren't available in bottles (I just took a look out of curiosity and they have 5 exclusive brews on tap right now, including a chocolate-lobster stout :wacko: ), but I've never seen anything at the DC area places that wasn't also available in bottles except for the "mixed" beers: 75-Minute (half 90 and half 60 Min) and Black and Tan (half Chicory Stout and half 90-Minute).


Exactly, Chris. They do serve some special brews on tap in the Rehoboth brewpub, but at that location only. Rehoboth actually has a small on-site brew facility that they use for this purpose. Anything going out commercially comes from Milton.

The chocolate-lobster stout was actually pretty good!

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#89 Kev29

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Posted 13 November 2012 - 02:37 PM

I've never seen anything at the DC area places that wasn't also available in bottles except for the "mixed" beers: 75-Minute (half 90 and half 60 Min) and Black and Tan (half Chicory Stout and half 90-Minute).


I think that 75-Minute bottles are available in the DC area now - but releases are very limited. http://www.dogfish.c...-minute-ipa.htm --- oh look there's some at Gilly's right now --- https://twitter.com/...361026796392448

For me, the huge difference between Rehoboth pub selection and the ones in the DC area is that you cannot get the 75-Minute on (Johnny) Cask in VA/MD. My go-to pint when down at the beach.

#90 dcs

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Posted 11 June 2014 - 09:27 AM

Sitting at the bar at the charming Mitre pub in Bayswater near Hyde Park in London, I noticed the familiar Dogfish Head logo on one of the taps. It turns out to be a collaboration between Dogfish Head and the Wells & Youngs brewery called DNA New World IPA.  They took the Dogfish Head "DNA," which appears to be a reduction from the 60 Minute IPA, and integrated it into the Wells & Youngs own brewing process and ingredients.  The version I had was from a keg, but there also appears to be a cask version as well.  I wish I had a US 60 Minute on hand to compare, but it was decidedly a good beer and not too bitter.  After a refreshing taste of back home, however, I switched back to the cask ales which are ever so hard to resist.


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