As a lover of unique and different beers, I’ve had a soft spot in my heart for Dogfish Head since first hearing the name and tasting some of their offerings such as their Shelter Pale Ale, 60-Minute IPA, Raison D’Etre, and Midas Touch. Dogfish Head beer is special, however, I didn’t really give much thought to the personality that drives the creativity behind the scenes. Sam Calagione is an neat guy.
Now, after creating a host of bottled adventures, those amazing, unique beers that are a trademark of Dogfish Head, and inspiration to many commercial and home brewers, Sam has embarked on another adventure himself. He’s hosting Brew Masters, a new show on the Discovery Channel, which follows Sam and his team as they venture out in search of inspiration, ingredients and techniques to further their adventures in brewing.
The first episode sees the Dogfish Head crew under a tight deadline to design and produce “Bitches Brew,” a beer for Sony Records to commemorate the 40th Anniversary of Miles Davis’ classic album of the same name.
Next Sam travels to Peru to learn the secrets of brewing Chicha, a corn-based beer in which a specific enzyme facilitates the coversion of corn startches to sugar. The enzyme is amylase. It comes from spit. For your home brewers out there, that means that the mash process occured in the mouths of Dogfish Head staffers. Yeah, they chewed the corn, then spit it into the brew pot. Of course it was boiled after that, but that didn’t matter to some patrons who were offered a sample of the result.
Seriously, spit beer? Why not? In his desire to discover and replicate obscure, traditional brewing methods from around the world, Sam Calagione is willing to pull out all the stops to do it right, and replicate a beer the way it was originally produced, in order to obtain an authentic representation. That’s kinda cool.
According to the late Beer Hunter, Michael Jackson, “[Sam’s] first shipment to New Jersey – a sixpack – was transported by small boat across Delaware Bay, requiring seven hours for the 20-mile journey. He rowed the boat himself. He also built it.”
Now there’s a man of conviction. He could have just driven the beer up to Jersey. Or maybe his car was broken. Either way, who would make that kind of trip for one six pack? How about a person who believes in what he is doing? Obviously Sam is a man who believes in delivering a message along with his product. A big message.
I’ve learned much about Sam Calagione in the past few days while researching Dogfish Head, and watching the TV series. He is indeed a character, and an impressive one. He’s a man who inspires others to persue their own ideas and adventures in life — business or personal — no matter how wacky or off-the-wall they may seem.
Brew on Dogfish Head! We can all reap the rewards.