Portland has its share of off-centered people, and quite a number of them were gathered at Novare Res at 4 Canal Plaza last Sunday for what has become the annual visit of Sam Calagione, founder and president of Dogfish Head Craft Brewed Ales in Delaware.

“From Grains to Glass: Gnarly Meets Barley” was a party on the patio with employees and boards from Grain surfboards, more than 23 beers from Dogfish Head on display, and a crew from Discovery Channel filming a show that is expected to be shown sometime in spring 2011.

And there was one beer that had never been served to the public before.

Eric Michaud, who with wife Julie owns Novare Res, is friends with Calagione from time spent in Amherst, Mass. He said Sunday’s event was the third time he had Calagione and his Dogfish Head staff on hand for an event, even though Novare Res has been open for only a little more than two years. (For more, go to www. novareresbiercafe.com.)

“I like to have events like this, where we have all or most of our 25 taps dedicated to one brewery,” Michaud said, adding that it gives his customers a chance to enjoy beer that they might not otherwise get to taste.

His next event will be on Aug. 20, a night dedicated to Rogue ales, whose the most popular brand is probably Rogue Dead Guy Ale.

Calagione enjoys meeting his customers, and a good crowd enjoys meeting him — and not just because he started the event by walking through the crowd with a tray of free beers.

Asked his philosophy of brewing, he gave a long quote from Emerson which I didn’t get down, and then said, “That is a long way to say ‘Off-centered stuff for off-centered people,’” which is a company motto and is featured on the company’s website, www.dogfish.com.

A lot of the beers are out there, with unusual ingredients and high alcohol. Of the 23 beers on tap Sunday, only eight were low enough in alcohol content to be sold in pint glasses. The other 15 came in 8-ounce glasses and had up to 18 percent alcohol by volume.

About an hour into the party, Calagione opened a cask of beer that had among its ingredients pieces of cedar left from the making of Grain surfboards. The aroma had tinges of a cedar blanket chest, with wheat and maybe rye and not a lot of hops. The customers found it quite drinkable.

I also sampled six other beers during my visit — I was sitting at a table with quite a few people, and we shared — and I liked them all. (As an aside: I am not a huge fan of the 60-minute or 90-minute IPA, and actively dislike the company’s Midas Touch, based on an ancient Turkish recipe, so I was surprised to be so perfectly pleased.)

Chicory Stout at 7 percent alcohol had chicory, coffee, St. John’s wort and licorice, and was excellent — with great body and a well-balanced sweetness.

Sah’tea, at 9 percent alcohol, had rye, juniper, ginger, cloves and tea, and was a rich beer with ginger being the strongest flavor — but not as strongly gingered as some other beers I have had.

Festina Peche, a Berliner-Weisse brewed with peaches, at 4.5 percent was excellent and sweet at the front with a sour (or tart) aftertaste. A typical Berliner-Weisse is served with a fruit syrup, but this has the peach added in the brewing instead.

Palo Santo Maron, a 12 percent unfiltered brown ale aged in Palo Santo wood from Paraguay, was as dark as a stout, quite sweet, very heavy on the malt and my personal favorite of the day.

My Antonia is an imperial pilsner that is dangerously easy to drink. It tastes like it is an excellent traditional pilsner, but it has 7.5 percent alcohol and could sneak up on you fast.

Olde School Barleywine, at 15 percent, was brewed with figs and dates, and was strongly flavored, big and enjoyable. It was the last beer I tasted, and my palate was shot.

 

Tom Atwell can be contacted at 791-6362 or at: [email protected]