Sam Calagione and Dogfish Head Keep Brewing the Greatest Innovations You’ll Ever Taste

October 4, 2018
As the holiday season approaches, it’s time to reacquaint your customers with this portfolio of beers that are both approachable and groundbreaking.
 
A common beer industry term goes something like this: when imports are up, crafts are down. With Mexican imports like Corona and Modelo reporting huge growth, there is evidence to support this claim. But one craft brewery is saying, “It ain’t necessarily so.”
 
Dogfish Head continues to thrive in a rapidly changing beer industry. How have they been able to buck all trends? What’s new for the holidays and 2019? Heady Times sat down with Dogfish Head founder and CEO Sam Calagione to find out.
 
We’ve been devoted to consistently delivering the best of the best,” says Calagione. “We strategized and laid the groundwork for a forward-looking growth plan for this year and beyond.” This plan included expanding the Dogfish footprint across the U.S., tripling the size of their sales team and redesigning their artwork and packaging. As an example, 90 Minute IPA is once again available in six-packs and the brewery debuted a new Off-Center Your Summer variety 12-pack that turns into a cooler. “It’s been a busy few years,” laughs Calagione.”
 
Dogfish recently made a big splash with SeaQuench Ale, a session sour mash-up of Kölsch, Gose and Berliner weiss brewed with black limes, sour lime juice and sea salt. “We had the goal, when we designed it, to make the most objectively thirst-quenching beer that Dogfish had ever brewed,” says Calagione. “But we also built it around a flavor profile that would appeal to margarita drinkers and white wine drinkers as much as it would appeal to beer geeks, and that is starting to prove itself.” Indeed, SeaQuench is the #1 selling brand in IRI’s “Wild or Sour Ale” category. It also appeals to people who enjoy minerally-tasting white wine. The beer is even getting national recognition for the way it fits into an active lifestyle. Men’s Health magazine proclaimed it the best-tasting, low‑calorie beer around.
 
In addition to the introduction of SeaQuench, Dogfish Head refocused its attention on a few key brands know as their “High 5”: 60 Minute IPA, 90 Minute IPA, SeaQuench Ale, Flesh & Blood and Namaste White. For a brewery that made its name creating dozens and dozens of one-offs and odd styles, this shift in strategy will attract new consumers who don’t necessarily think of themselves as beer drinkers.
 
This High 5 group of beers includes a diverse range of styles, perfect for every consumer. 60 Minute is the beloved flagship IPA, 90 Minute – its high-octane brother, has been called “one of the most important American craft beers ever brewed” by Food & Wine. Flesh & Blood is a stellar IPA brewed with a bevy of real citrus and Namaste White is a Belgian-style white ale with notes of citrus, clove and coriander.
 
We’ve been devoted to consistently delivering the best of the best.”
 

Another feather in Dogfish Head’s cap is their big bet on cans. “We see a lot of today’s craft drinkers looking for a more portable, lighter package,” says Calagione. “I can envision a world in five or six years where our can sales eclipse our bottle sales.” While Calagione and his team are preparing for the day that happens, he maintains that there will likely always be a demand for both bottle and can formats.
 
With the holiday season quickly approaching, Dogfish is getting ready to roll out their new IPAs For The Holidays 12-pack, a winter seasonal favorite that “contains four varieties of Off-Centered goodness,” says Calagione. This year, the package will feature two beers exclusive to the variety pack, Sixty One (which Dogfish loyalists remember well) and the new Viniferous IPA. The white wine & beer hybrid of the mix, Viniferous IPA is fermented with Riesling and Viognier grapes and hopped up to match the dry, fruity complexity of a Riesling with the hoppiness of an IPA. “It’s the perfect gift for the beer geek in your family, or to share at the holiday party with people who love IPAs. And Viniferous IPA’s flavor will delight wine lovers,” Calagione adds.
 
As for a sneak peek at what Dogfish has planned for 2019? Calagione kept his cards close to his vest, but he did reveal that their Grateful Dead collaboration American Beauty will be returning as a year-round offering and their new Art Series release will be a double IPA called The Perfect Disguise. “But that’s all I can say,” Calagione laughed. 

With more details on the way, there are sure to be many highlights for Dogfish Head fans in the coming year. With renewed focus on core brands, an expanding footprint and a passion for excellence, Dogfish will continue to deliver the best that craft beer has to offer.
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