December 9, 2010

Sam Calagione

Last night I attended a private beer tasting / meet and greet with Sam Calagione, founder of Dogfish Head, at RFD in Washington, DC. It was a sort of thank you event for the employees and guests of Premium Distributors, who distribute Dogfish Head in DC. Folks started to gather in the 'Back Room' at RFD around 5pm and wasted no time getting things started. The back bar was loaded with Dogfish brews...

In bottles: Chicory Stout, Burton Baton
On tap: 60 Minute IPA, 90 Minute IPA, Midas Touch, World Wide Stout, My Antonia, and Bitches Brew

Here's the tap handle for Bitches Brew (note the inscription on the lower cog - "Analog beer for the digital age")

World Wide Stout and My Antonia were the only two I hadn't previously enjoyed, but I could not resist starting with a Bitches Brew draft, since I've already had it from the bottle and loved it so much. I did have a quick taste of the My Antonia and knew that I would need a full glass later on. I mingled for a bit, talking with one of the guys from Premium and some of the other guests, a mix of bar and liquor store owners and fellow beer nerds. Pretty soon a buffet was laid out and everyone dug in. Sam hadn't arrived yet, held up by traffic. While working on some chicken tenders and a bratwurst, I had a glass of World Wide Stout. Sam arrived around 6:30 or so and gave a quick speech about craft beer, thanked everyone for their support, apologized for not being able to meet the current demand but reflected positively on that point, noting that having 100% of your finished product sold every day is an amazing thing in this economy, even if people are screaming at you for more.

After the speech, one of the guys from Premium introduced me to Sam and we spoke for 10 minutes or so. I told him about BEERsimple and he suggested I email his wife, Mariah, the link because she likes to stay on top of the web stuff. I was wearing a work shirt and he asked what the '513' was for. I explained that I worked for PRS Guitars and that the 513 is a model we make. Sam told me about a guy who wanted a mandolin made out of the same Palo Santo wood that Dogfish used to build the 10,000 gallon wooden tank used to brew their Palo Santo Marron. I told him we do plenty custom work, including mandolins, and that if got us the wood, PRS could definitely build it! I mentioned my penchant for drinking High Life whenever I need something refreshing and very cheap to drink, and Sam laughed but seemed to appreciate my candor. At the end of our conversation he lifted his empty glass, laughed and said he really needed to pee, then put his hand up for a high five. I got a quick photo with him and we parted ways.

I stayed for a little while longer so I could enjoy a full glass of My Antonia, which by the way is a generously hopped imperial pilsner. I've seen the bottles in stores but never picked one up, but now that I've tasted it, I will definitely grab a bottle next time I'm at the store. It may be in my top 10 for this year.

And that, my friends, is how I met Sam Calagione.

1 comment:

Brad said...

Good stuff. Sam rocks.

About the Palo Santo wood, our buddy John is the person responsible for getting it to Sam. In fact, it was John's sort of creation! See here for the story:
http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2008/11/24/081124fa_fact_bilger

John is also on the Baltimore Beer Week committee and I'll send him this link.

Cheers!