Let me preface this post by saying that I know this is the guys at Dogfish Head (DFH) doing a goofy, spoofy video, and if it was a fictional product, it would be a good laugh, but this is for a real product, and I think Sam Calagione, in his quest to sell “Slightly Off-Center Products”, has gone too far and actually become possessed by the ghost of the late, slightly off-center infomercial king, Billy Mays.
The genesis of this post was G-LO emailing me the YouTube video posted below to provoke a response, because he knows that I have a Hate/Love relationship with Dogfish Head. In fact, it would be better to characterize it as a Hate/Respect relationship. I respect DFH, because it’s hard to argue that they’re not an important brewery in the growth of the craft brewing marketplace, and that their core beer offerings are some of the best out there. The hate comes from my suspicion that many of the big bottle brews they make are just a gimmicky attempt to part me from my money for an odd product, rather than a superior quality product that I would gladly pay more for.
The Randall Jr. is the latest product offering that confirms my suspicion that DFH is just try to sell me junk, be it brew infused with blueberries and monkey ass, or this portable “flavor infuser”. The Randall Jr. is a “mini” version of the Randall the Enamel Animal hops infuser that DFH started offering back in 2002 so that drinkers could “over hop” draft brew by running though a hop packed filter. The Jr. is nothing more than a DFH branded tea infuser that allows you to pour your bottled or draft beer over an infusion of hops, berries, peaches, beef jerky, or anything else that you can think of to ruin a perfectly good beer.
Check out the video:
At this point you’re probably thinking, “Hey! That was funny. You need to lighten up Wookie!”. I’ll agree it was funny, and I love a little goofiness, but that $20 brew infuser looks a lot like the $6 tea infuser that my wife has, and I am pretty certain my $10 French press coffeemaker would do the same job just as well, if not better. The price and DFH money grab is not my only objection. I question the need to “infuse” (read: fix) any well crafted beer!
I judge brewers against the standard set by one of my favorite chefs, Chef Franco Lombardo of Sapori in Collingswood, NJ. Years ago, at one of early dinners in his restaurant, I asked him for some grated cheese to add to my dish. The Chef politely responded that he would be happy to bring me some, but that I should try the dish first, because if it needed cheese, he would have added it in the kitchen. The dish was perfect and needed nothing. I have never had to add cheese, or even salt and pepper, to any of his dishes because they are always what they need to be when they leave the kitchen.
Brewers should think the same way. If a beer needs more hops or coffee or berries, add them during the brewing process. Drinkers should expect nothing less than this attention to detail from the brewers as the highest standard. If you drink a brew and think, “This could use more hops.”, then the brewer either made a bad beer, or you are drinking the wrong beer for the occasion.
It’s not that I have a personal objection to wanting to add flavor to what you drink. I love a good spiced rum, limy margarita, or an infused Bourbon cocktail, but spirits are intended to be melded with other ingredients to make something new. Beer, and wine for that matter, is intended to be a completely crafted drink when it hits the bottle.
So what do you think? Is the Randall Jr. something for you? Let us know in the comments below.
Categories: Brew and Booze News