From a 12-gallon brewing system in Delaware’s first brewpub to the 250K gallon per week craft powerhouse we know today, Dogfish Head has seen incredible success and growth in their 25-year history. And what better way to celebrate that growth – and their silver anniversary – than with a book that takes Dogfish Head fans and beer historians alike behind the scenes of the delightfully off-centered brewery?
Though The Dogfish Head Book: 25 Years of Off-Centered Adventures isn’t scheduled for release until after this issue goes to press, the brewery was kind enough to offer Heady Times a sneak peek. We’re happy to report that, judging from the sample we received, this lovingly compiled page-turner will be a fantastic addition to any beer lover’s collection.
Written by Dogfish Head founder and brewer Sam Calagione, Dogfish Head co-founder and communitarian Mariah Calagione and longtime co-worker & Dogfish Inn INNkeeper Andrew C. Greeley, The Dogfish Head Book is a lot like the brewery itself: passionate, artfully designed and just a little bit goofy. A complete chronicle of the brewery’s 25-year history, the book features never-before-seen photos and documents, co-worker profiles and design notes that encapsulate success, failure, buckets of hard work and, sometimes, plain old luck.
No one can communicate that history quite like Dogfish’s gregarious founder. Sam Calagione’s natural storytelling ability is on full display from the very first chapter, as he describes youthful escapades that reveal his entrepreneurial spirit but also resulted in expulsion from his college prep school just before graduation. His trademark energy leaps off the page as he takes readers along on a brewing and culinary adventure. Calagione takes us from his first homebrewed beer – a pale ale brewed with overripe cherries from a bodega that he later shared with actors Ken Marino, Joe Lo Truglio and Ricki Lake at a party in his fourth-floor walkup – to the reasoning behind Raison D’Etre – the Dogfish favorite that Calagione reverse-engineered to be the beer world’s Bordeaux that pairs perfectly with steak.
But Calagione is quick to note that he’s made some missteps in his career too. The story of his fateful trip across Delaware Bay to deliver the first six-pack of Dogfish Head beer to New Jersey will have readers wincing in sympathy, but it also serves as a reminder that hard work (eventually) pays off. Following the initial disappointment of a miniscule crowd on the Cape May shore, Calagione was approached by Levi’s to participate in an ad campaign featuring young entrepreneurs across the country, boosting Dogfish Head’s message early on.
The true pièce de resistance in the early pages Heady Times received, however, is the car crash/U-Haul/ bloody finger incident. No spoilers, but if you didn’t already respect Calagione for his brewing chops, MacGyver-like innovations and entrepreneurial pluck, you’ll have to give him props for perseverance after reading this edge-of-your-seat white-knuckler where the hits just keep coming.
But luckily for us, after a quarter century of victories, setbacks and several brushes with death, the Calagiones and their co-workers at Dogfish Head are still going strong and aren’t about to wrap up their off-centered adventures any time soon. We can’t wait to see where they’ll end up next. Cheers to 25 years, and many more.