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Dogfish Head to battle Troegs on ice at the Linc

Dubbed the Winter Craft Classic, the event is free to attend, and is scheduled to begin at 8 p.m.

The ice at the Linc on the eve of the 2019 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series game featuring the Philadelphia Flyers vs. Pittsburgh Penguins. Dogfish Head will battle Troegs on the same ice Tuesday.
The ice at the Linc on the eve of the 2019 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series game featuring the Philadelphia Flyers vs. Pittsburgh Penguins. Dogfish Head will battle Troegs on the same ice Tuesday.Read moreELIZABETH ROBERTSON / Staff Photographer

The Flyers successfully took their rivalry with the Pittsburgh Penguins outside with Saturday’s NHL Stadium Series game at Lincoln Financial Field, but on Tuesday, an even more bitter (and hoppy) hockey rivalry will be settled on the very same ice.

“We’re coming in hot,” says Dogfish Head founder Sam Calagione, whose Delaware-based brewery will hit Pennsylvania on Tuesday to play Hershey’s own Tröegs Independent Brewing in a friendly game of hockey with colleagues at Linc. Dubbed the Winter Craft Classic, the event is free to attend, and is scheduled to begin at 8 p.m.

Fans, a release notes, should enter through the Linc’s Verizon gate, as there will also be a Flyers game taking place at that time. Beer, of course, will be available, specifically with a focus on Dogfish’s SeaQuench Ale and 60 Minute IPA, as well as Tröegs’ Perpetual IPA and Sunshine Pils.

2019 marks the second year running for the event, which was first held at Hersheypark Arena, just a few miles from Tröegs’ Hershey headquarters. Hometown advantage, however, didn’t help Tröegs’ Hershey Tröegenators, who ultimately lost to the Dogfish Head Hockey Club, 6-4. But as Calagione says, the upcoming Philly rematch may be a tough one.

“Dogfish will be defending our title,” he says. “But I know Tröegs will be coming at us like a bunch of spider monkeys trying to steal it away.”

Philadelphians can thank a fellow Pennsylvanian, Dogfish’s logistics manager Justin Brunda, for the Winter Craft Classic’s move to Philadelphia this year. A West Chester resident who was raised in the Allentown and Bethlehem area, Brunda regularly coaches kids hockey classes at Oaks Center Ice, where he learned the sport several years ago. After connecting with Tröegs’ Philadelphia regional sales manager Nick Johnson last year, the pair decided to launch the Winter Craft Classic as a form of team building at the two breweries.

This year’s Stadium Series game at the Linc opened up the opportunity for the two breweries to play a game of hockey under the stars in Philly, and Brunda leaped at the chance, he says. After making some calls, he secured some ice time, and asked Johnson if Tröegs wanted a rematch, which they did. It was also kismet, Calagione says, that Dogfish’s annual sales retreat was scheduled to bring 75 company employees to town ahead of the game.

“We are ready for them,” Tröegs’ Johnson says. “The team has been training hard for this game, studying hockey films,” like Slapshot and The Mighty Ducks, and playing “late-night games at Center Ice.”

Whoever wins, Calagione says, the hockey event ties into the building active lifestyle beer trend, which places a focus on low-calorie, low-carb beers like the popular Michelob Ultra, as perceived “healthier” options. Additionally, beer drinkers, Nielsen data indicates, are increasingly health-conscious about what goes into the alcoholic beverages they imbibe, and about 32 percent of drinkers said they drank less beer in 2018 primarily as a result of health-oriented efforts.

Dogfish Head, however, has been on the healthy lifestyle beer trend for more than a decade now, Calagione says, thanks to its Namaste beer, a Belgian white brewed with lemongrass and orange flesh that also features lower calorie and carb counts. After its release in the mid-2000s, Dogfish Head began noticing yoga fans touting the beer on social media, which opened the company up to pursuing lower calorie and carb brews ahead of the current lifestyle trend.

Most recently, the company kept that active lifestyle focus up with the release of SeaQuench Ale, a 5-percent-ABV sour that is billed as Dogfish’s most “thirst-quenching” brew ever. Dogfish highlighted the beer online during its JanuQuenchy campaign, which encouraged fans to remain active and quench their thirst with SeaQuench following physical activity, as well as avoid foods like cheesesteaks and french fries (two of Calagione’s favorites).

»READ MORE: SeaQuench wins top honor for best canned beer in Craig LaBan’s 2018 Brewvitational

However, as dietitian Tara Condell told Inverse in 2017, the claim that a beer can be “hydrating” is “misleading” because “anything containing alcohol will do the opposite.” In an interview, Calagione noted that Dogfish Head “can’t say [the beer] will hydrate you.”

Dogfish Head plans on keep the low-cal, low-carb beer run up this year with Slightly Mighty, a low-cal IPA set for national release in April. The beer, Calagione says, may be the first brewed with monk fruit as a sweetener, which gives Slightly Mighty a full flavor while keeping carbs and calories down, thanks to monk fruit being sweeter than table sugar without as many of the extras.

“It took us months and months and over $10,000 just to get the recipe approved by the federal government,” Calagione says.

Despite the active lifestyle beer trend, Dogfish won’t be backing off from its usual big, off-centered brews, like 90 Minute IPA or Punkin Ale. As Calagione says, that is the company’s heritage, and he loves all his beers “equally, like my children.”

One thing Calagione will back off from, though, is #JanuQuenchy’s “eat fewer cheesesteaks” directive. After all, he is coming to the cheesesteak capital of the world, and everyone needs a little indulgence once in a while. For Calagione, that indulgence comes from John’s Roast Pork.

“Oh yeah,” he says of getting a steak. “I’m going to the roast pork place.”

More information about the upcoming Winter Craft Classic is available on the event’s official Facebook page.