In sports, coaches and managers aren’t afraid of some healthy competition. The same can be said for the craft beer market. However, these brewers take healthy
competition a step further to camaraderie.
“Our industry was founded on a communal and altruistic foundation, from the days of Anchor selling equipment they outgrew to Sierra Nevada [for] cheap,” says Sam Calagione, founder and president of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery Inc., Milton, Del.
Although Dogfish Head is known for making its own beer and spirits, the company also has taken an interest in working with other brewers and even those outside of the beer market.
“An overarching philosophy at Dogfish is our belief in the good karma that comes with focusing on collaboration rather than the negative energy that comes with focusing on competition,” Calagione says.
One of the company’s first collaborations was in 2000 with Herold Brewery in Prague. Calagione notes that the final product, a 9 percent alcohol by volume imperial pilsner, did receive some critiques from purists in Prague, but it was an important learning experience for the company, as it since has gone on to develop many more creations with outside partners.
When setting out to find new partners, Dogfish Head looks for brand owners who share a similar mindset when it comes to running their business.
“[We look for] good people who are more passionate about what they make than they are about making money,” Calagione says. “But if we work well together and create something exciting and amiable, the money should follow.”
One of Dogfish Head’s latest collaborations is American Beauty, a pale ale that the craft brewer developed with rock band the Grateful Dead. The duo even reached out to fans and asked them to suggest ingredients that should be included in the collaborative brew. One fan, Thomas Butler, suggested the winning ingredient — granola — which both collaborators thought would be a sweet and toasty complement to the hops and barley, the company said.
And this month, Dogfish Head released Rosabi, a well-hopped imperial pale ale that it brewed with musician Julianna Barwick. The influence for the collaboration came after Barwick performed for the Dogfish Head community in celebration of the completion of its 18-month expansion to the brewery.
In addition to the brew, Barwick composed four original songs incorporating sounds from the brewery. The mini-album will be available in a limited-edition release of 1,000 CDs sold only in sealed cases of six 750-ml bottles.
Calagione notes that the company has more exciting collaborations in the pipeline and is looking forward to exploring even more. “We will continue to do at least one a year with other craft breweries, but we will also continue to innovate on collaborations with artists and companies in industries outside of beer,” he says.