What The Hell Is Hawthorn Fruit Anyway?

Getting to the root of Dogfish Head’s Exotic Brews

I realize the title is a bit  harsh, but seriously, do you really know what some of these exotic ingredients we find in Dogfish Head’s off centered brews are?  Most Dogfish Headophiles simply say, “Whatever it it is, I like it.”  I consider myself a foodie but sometimes I find myself looking up a few ingredients on Wikipedia. So lets take a few of DFH’s exotic brews and define some not so common ingredients and jump inside the brewer’s head and guess what purpose they had for using these not so mainstream ingredients.

Gesho Root

Gesho Root is a bittering plant used in the Imperial Stout known as Bitches Brew, the first music inspired beer that commemorates the famous jazz album from the Hall of Fame artist Miles Davis.  Gesho, as it is referred to as in Ethiopia, is a small shrub or tree that produces shiny berry like fruits.  The stems are used the same way hops would be used to flavor a mead like drink called tej.  I am not sure if Sam added his own honey beer and tossed in  the gesho himself or whether he added a previously prepared gehso infused tej.  I vote for the former.

Hawthorn Fruit

The second of the Ancient Ales, Chateau Jiahu, as you probably know, was inspired from preserved pottery jars found in the Neolithic village of Jiahu.  Hawthorn fruit, sake rice, barley and honey make this 9000 year old Asian inspired brew.  So like I said before, “What the hell is hawthorn fruit?”

 Hawthorns are tart, bright red fruits that resemble crab apples. They are used in China to make many snacks, juices, jams and of course alcoholic beverages.


 Visiting yet another ancient beer, Sah’tea which was inspired from a 9th Century Finish Ale uses the third most expensive spice in the world, cardamom.  What is the most expensive spice you ask?  Well, you would find it in the first of the ancient ales, Midas Touch.  FYI,  saffron.

Believe it or not, I actually have a small amount of ground cardamom in my spice drawer. Cardamom can be found in East Indian, Scandinavian, Arabic and Central African cuisines.  You probably have already tried it in curries, chai tea and Arabic coffee.  Cardamom is a pretty pungent and aromatic spice.  It is best to purchase the spice in the pod form and ground your own.

Noble Rot

 For those beer only drinkers, the name noble rot might concern you a bit but the winos know this is a good thing.  Noble rot comes from a fungus called Botrytis cinera.  This good fungus, during specific conditions, reduces the water content and therefore causes the sugar content to intensify.  Dogfish Head uses the infected must from Viognier grapes from Alexandria Nicole Cellars in Prosser, Washington.

Noble Rot is the name of the off-centered saison that also uses malted red winter wheat which comes from Sam Calagione’s  home state, Massachusetts.


Annatto, chiles, honey and cocoa infuse this ancient Honduras inspired beverage called Theobroma which translates into “Food of the Gods.”

 Annatto is referred to as “the poor man’s saffron”  because it can add a similar bright yellow color without the high price tag.  Annatto can be found in Latin American dishes and is also used for coloring in margarine, microwave popcorn and cosmetics.
Well I hope I demystified some of Dogfish Head’s exotic brews.
Share some of your exotic experiences and visit us on Facebook and Twitter.

3 comments on “What The Hell Is Hawthorn Fruit Anyway?

  1. Woah….you know your stuff. You have certainly demystified with all them facts. I am certain that the Annatto is something I would like to use in spicing up my food and it is simply because of the price tag…..okay that was a joke!

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