Tuesday, 16 February 2016

An Evening With Sam Calagione

By Craig Ditcham

As a waiter passed me a glass of ‘fresh’ Midas Touch I thought ‘this is beer heaven’.

I was with 140 others in the Local Taphouse and Sam Caligione was about to start 3 hours of verbal banter with us. If you don’t know Sam, he is the founder of Dogfish Head Brewery in Maine, USA and also the figurehead of craft beer in that country. A new magazine titled Pallet was being launched in Australia and they brought Sam and his family over for a holiday, as well as having him speak at the Taphouse in St Kilda & Darlinghurst. While listening to Sam, we got to taste 5 Dogfish Head beers flown over especially for the evening, and the standout for me was the 90 Minute IPA.

Sam spoke casually, his answers to questions were entertaining, and we got to hear some good stories. Like brewing a beer with an NBA player while driving around LA in their limousine. No shit. And the way to find if a prospective employee would really fit in at Dogfish, even if they passed the interviews & formal stuff, was to get 5 beers into them in the evening and ‘see who they really were’. The craft beer scene is currently only about 8% of the USA beer market, and similar to here, the big corporates have seen opportunity to make dollars by buying into craft breweries across US states. Sam gave the microphone to microbrewers in the audience, to let them promote themselves, and encouraged us to keep ‘fighting the good fight’ against mass market beer, to always go for flavour and diversity.


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