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Have a beer with…Sam Calagione

Yep, that’s right! Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head! – In this special edition of “Have a beer with…” we bring you a real giant in the craft beer scene. We tried something new this time around and selected a DC Beer.com reader to help us develop the questions for Sam.

Thanks to Bill DeBaun for helping us with this interview. Follow Bill on Twitter: @whatsbilldoing

Without further ado..…

Andrew: First things first. What are you currently drinking? I’m enjoying a Three Floyds – Robert the Bruce.

Sam: “Sounds delish – We are brewing a collaboration with Nick Floyd , of Three Floyds, here at Dogfish next month – mums the word on the beer style for now – other than Belgian and 8 abv-ish.  Right now I am not drinking, but this last weekend I had Allagash Interlude, Palo Santo, and Avery IPA – it was a very good weekend.”

Andrew:  What are your thoughts on craft beer’s market share in overall beer sales and competition within that market share? Do you think it’s at all ironic that established craft breweries such as Dogfish Head, Stone, Rogue, etc. could end up having so much of the craft beer market share that it keeps other start up craft breweries out?

Sam: “I don’t think that’s going to happen. Each of the craft breweries you name have about 1/20th of 1 percent market share. Compare that to Bud, Miller, even Yuengling and we indie craft brewers are a drop in the bucket. If anything, I think a rising tide floats all ships and at Dogfish we spend a lot of time celebrating our craft brewing brethren – not just our own beers – as you can see in the selection of beers I enjoyed this weekend.”

Andrew: How encouraging is it to you that having a pale ale, IPA, brown ale, and stout aren’t necessarily enough for craft beer fans to find you intriguing? The envelope keeps getting pushed in terms of style, process, and ingredients. Is there a terminal limit for that envelope?

Sam: “We are only limited by the imagination of the craft brewers and the beer enthusiasts who are excited to support them. The Extreme Beer Fest in Boston, probably the highest profile forum for the big and the weird, sold out in record time during a recession. No envelope on the horizon that I can see.

Andrew: What do you think about the beer renaissance that we seem to be in the middle of in DC and its surroundings? With a number of solid beer bars opening in 2009, and even more growth expected in 2010, how do we stack up against other beer towns? West Coast?

Sam: “DC is an awesome beer town – that was a fun night we were both at Churchkey –I also showed my kids Brickskeller that weekend and had a fine meal / amazing beers with Thor at Brasserie Beck. Not to mention the three Dogfish Alehouses in the area . I know that is just the tip of the beer iceberg in DC and that is pretty exciting and has come a long way since I first started doing events in DC 15 years ago.

Andrew: Comment a little bit about social media and craft beer. At every level (brewery, distributor, bar/liquor store, blogger/consumer/average Joe) social media are being used to spread the word about the craft beer movement. What do you think it is about craft beer that lends itself to the thousands of people using social media to talk about what they’re drinking?

Sam: “My wife is really awesome at this stuff for Dogfish. She over sees Twitter/Facebook/Dogfish.com for us. I think there is a bond between beer lovers that is a moveable feast on line and you can sip and type really easily compared to trying to drink during a pickup basketball game – I’ve tried and I always lose and usually spill”

Andrew: What do you think the prospects are of you pushing the boundaries on lagers the way you have with ales? My Antonia was a revelation of a lager; why not turn what Americans traditionally think of as a “lager” on its ear with something similar to My Antonia from Dogfish Head?

Sam: “I like the way you think Andrew. We have been doing a variation of My Antonia, our imperial Pilsner, for six years now.  In 2010 My Antonia will be continually-hopped, bottle-conditioned, and available in 750 ml Champagne bottles. Tell everyone at DC Beer we really appreciate the support and to come visit us at the beach.  We have brewery tours year-round Tuesday – Saturday and our Rehoboth pub re-opens Feb 10th.

Cheers and thanks Andrew!

Photo Courtesy of Samer Farha: Sam describing DogFish Head “Black Thai” moments before tapping the cask at ChurchKey.

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