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Big Beers - Looking Back and Ahead

Tue, 01/04/2011 - 10:17am

Happy New Year fellow beer enthusiast type people!

We have so much good news to share and celebrate as we look back on 2010 here at Dogfish. Most important for us (and we hope for you as well): we produced and sold a greater variety of super-high-quality, super-unique off-centered ales than any other year in our 15 year existence! More R & D and one-off freak-flag-waving brews done on our 5 barrel system in our Rehoboth pub and more bottled and draft beers distributed coast-to-coast (spotty in the fine states in between we realize with apologies). Whew!

Speaking of apologies, we know we owe you all one for the frustrations you might have experienced when you asked for your favorite Dogfish beer at your favorite craft beer joint only to be told they were out of stock. I have described our philosophy on this in a previous blog post, but I do recognize our choice to grow strong and smart instead of just growing fast, our choice to keep experimenting and pushing the envelope instead of allowing ourselves to be mutated into the 60 Minute brewing company, comes with its own challenges. We are up to the challenge and hope you are too.

Speaking of challenges, our commitment to quality has brought another batch of anticipated specialty beer into an uncomfortable position. For those of you who have seen the Brew Masters show on the Discovery Channel, you know we lost batches of 120 Minute IPA and Chateau Jiahu in 2010. I really wish those episodes ran with two in between them as originally planned, but that decision fell above my pay grade. I could see where it may appear that our militant position on quality causes us to dump an inordinate amount of beer. But, that's actually not the case; we dumped 1.6 percent of the beer we could have sold in 2009 and 1.7 percent of the beer we could have sold in 2010. We also jumped from 96,000 bbls sold in 2009 to about 120,000 in 2010. Bigger volume presents bigger challenges, but the percentages were nearly identical.

That said the last batch to contribute to our 2010 losses is our dear old friend Fort. In short, the worlds strongest fruit beer didn't end up quite strong enough. These big beers are a bear to brew. Yes, we lost 120 Minute and Fort this year, but World Wide Stout came out great! We will keep dialing these recipes in and these beers will be back. We didn't want to send stuff out there until we all agreed they were up to snuff in here. Or as the wise and noble Buddha once said: "The way is not in the sky. The way is in the heart."

Heading off to the Big Beers & Barleywine Fest in Vail, Colorado this week. Looking forward to our dinner with Avery Brewing and enjoying big beers from all the other great craft breweries.

Cheers, Sam