Memories of Dogfish Head

Delaware, Essay, travel

This travel essay was part of Charlotte magazine’s July issue about breweries worth a road-trip. I’m originally from Delaware so it was really special to write about the most prominent brewery from the state, Dogfish Head.

Courtesy of Dogfish Head Brewery

THE FIRST THING I NOTICE as I pull up to Delaware’s Dogfish Head Brewery isn’t the scent of malt or hops filling the air of small-town Milton, or the giant stainless steel fermentation silos outside. It’s the steampunk treehouse with wiry, rusty branches and a spiral staircase that leads to a hexagonal house planted on the lawn.

The treehouse was first built as an art installation for Burning Man, the massive desert alt-festival, then found its way to Coachella, the massive desert mainstream festival. With no permanent home, Dogfish Head took in the 40-foot-tall steel sculpture, and it’s remained on site since 2010. The eight-ton treehouse isn’t open for guests, but boy, is it fun to look at.

I’m from Delaware, so for me, Dogfish Head is as synonymous with beer as National Bohemian is in Maryland or Bud Light is everywhere. It’s what NoDa Brewing or Olde Mecklenburg Brewery are to Charlotte—but in Delaware, for a long time, we had only one choice. Now we have Mispillion River, Big Oyster, Fordham & Dominion, and about 20 others—remarkable for a state with a population of less than a million.

In my early 20s, I liked Dogfish’s Namaste White so much, I bought Namaste-flavored lip balm from the gift shop. Today, for every birthday and Christmas, my dad still gives me a six-pack of whatever Dogfish has in season. In Charlotte, I scour bottle shops to find the lime green cap with a shark-shaped exclamation point, which signals the ABV is more than 15 percent. The brewery calls it the “Dogfish danger cap.”

I was a year old in 1995, when Sam and Mariah Calagione opened Dogfish Head. As a young kid, I remember my dad drinking their flagship 90 Minute IPA as he cheered for the Redskins—a good beer helped curb the disappointment of Redskins fanhood ever since their 1992 Super Bowl win. Once I was old enough to drink, it was the first beer I tried (beat that, nameless-keg beer).


Editor’s Note: Please & Thank You

Essay, music

My editor’s note from Charlotte magazine’s March issue. Cover image by Jonathan Cooper.

IS THERE anything promptu about seeing a show at Snug Harbor? For every band I’ve seen at the Plaza Midwood venue, it’s always been a last-minute decision: If the set starts at 10:30 p.m., I’m calling the Uber at 10:28.

Spontaneity is also why I love Snug. The bartender asks, “What beer do you want?” I shrug and say, “Just give me whatever is cheapest.” The friend I drag along asks, “What band is even playing?” I say, “Does it even matter? You’ll love them.”


Editor’s Note: Coming a Long Way


My editor’s note from Charlotte magazine’s February issue.

CLUMPS OF HAIR fall to the floor as Deborah Triplett buzzes off her brown locks with an electric shaver. Bright red lipstick frames her wide smile. “It feels so liberating,” she shouts over the sounds of Janet Jackson’s “What Have You Done For Me Lately.” Triplett holds up a clump, takes a look at it, and says, “What have you done for me lately?” She shrugs and drops the hair to the ground as if tossing a piece of garbage into the bin.

On October 12, Triplett was diagnosed with lung cancer—one tumor the size of a lemon in her right lung, one mast in the center of her chest the size of a child’s hand. The doctors showed her the X-ray—the mast’s veins stretch like extended fingers—and gave her a 35 percent chance of survival.


Editor’s Note: The Sunset After the Storm


My editor’s note from Charlotte magazine’s January issue. Cover image by Peter Taylor.

DAVE CRANDALL can tell you anything about the cocktails from The Summit Room. Want something fruity but not too sweet? Try the Kilimanjaro, one of its seven cocktails named after the tallest peaks on each continent. “I’ve been in the business forever,” says Dave, a server at the Dilworth restaurant. He glides across the dining room floor with a Cheshire Cat smile, explaining the must-order drinks—and dishes—to every customer. The thing is, though, he’s never had a sip of any of them.

For our Best New Restaurants list, I wanted to talk to a server who has seen the changes in Charlotte’s food scene—someone with a different perspective from chefs and food writers. When I sat down with Dave at Mama Ricotta’s in November, I figured I could still write that story. But I didn’t want to. There was more to Dave than the food industry.


Editor’s Note: Stress Dreams and Gift Giving


My editor’s note from Charlotte magazine’s December issue. Cover image by Logan Cyrus.

I HAVE ONE VIVID, recurring nightmare. It’s the night before Christmas, and I’ve completely forgotten about the holiday. I haven’t gotten gifts for anyone; I haven’t spent hours making sure the bows are tied symmetrically. Cookie dough is still just a bag of flour, uncracked eggs, and a container of sugar. I’m stuck in Charlotte eight hours away from home in Delaware.

I panic and drive to the mall to grab last-minute gifts, but the stalls are all shuttered. CVS for gift cards? Closed. I think I could re-gift something from home, but my closet is suddenly empty.


Editor’s Note: Party of One


My editor’s note from Charlotte magazine’s November issue. Cover image by Peter Taylor.

ON MOST SUMMER DAYS at my neighborhood pool, there’s a never-ending loop of bass playing from a small portable speaker. It’s music made for glow sticks and kegstand handstands as a horde of spring breakers cheer. At this small pool in Plaza Midwood though, the club soundtrack often jolts me awake from naps or forces me to dog-ear whatever I’m too distracted to read.