Sierra Nevada/Dogfish Head Life and Limb

October 12, 2011

My grandmother, also a newspaper columnist in her time, got into genealogy somewhere in the 60s, I believe. She found out we had an ancestor that came across on the Mayflower. The distinction turned dubious as he turned out to be the first — ahem — murderer among the English settlers. Please don’t look at my family funny after you read this… that was a long time ago and none of my family has ever gone to jail that I’ve ever heard about.

My mom also dabbles in family trees but her interests remain in seeing how far back our many lineages go… how deep into history can one family trace their own path. She also contacts distant relatives just to be neighborly and say “hello” even though that neighbor could be as far away as Czestochowa, Poland or Bangor, Maine.

Truth be told, the case could be made that everything has a tree to be traced. When one stops to consider the domino effect, of sorts, that begins when people come together to collaborate on creating something new it is really quite amazing. The simplest of ideas, the smallest of projects, the grandest efforts… so many lives touching and beginning a family, albeit in the untraditional sense.

Sierra Nevada Brewery began when Ken Grossman partnered up with Paul Camusi in the late 70s out in California. The two have grown their brewery into one of the most respected craft beer companies in America employing hundreds and can now boast a brewery and restaurant seating 350 guests and has live music.

On the opposite coast, Dogfish Head founder Sam Calagione drives his company in strange directions. Not content with the “usual” styles, he and his brewers utilize uncommon ingredients and take bold chances with type. He, too, has his brewery, restaurant, is collaborating with celebrity chef Mario Batali and had his own TV show demonstrating his company’s love of beer.

Both breweries are no stranger to collaboration beer making and recently re-released the Life and Limb strong ale. The beer’s first run in 2009 sold out nationwide in 2 weeks. It’s symbolic of the families who work for their companies, the lives they touch along the way, the many avid beer enthusiasts who love their product and the twisting, branching paths craft brewing has taken in recent years. Pour yourself a glass and you’ll find a monster of a beer (10.2% abv) that’s mahogany-dark and sporting a rocky head. The scents are super malty and super fruity with dates, raisins, caramel, dark bread and cocoa with a faint, almost herbal hop note. Flavors of molasses, fig, coffee and spiced fruits dominate the palate backed up by a rich mouthfeel and slick finish.