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Inspiration Outside The Bottle

Thu, 10/13/2011 - 1:31pm

So lately we've been on a bit of a collaborative-tear. With companies large and small. We just bought a bunch of pears and peaches from Fifer Orchards here in lower Delaware for an extremely-local-centric beer that will be coming out at our pub on Halloween (a keg should make it to the Extreme Beer Fest in Boston as well). Plus we just bought many thousands of dollars of coffee beans from Lewes Roastery for our chicory stout. They are blocks from my home and I love coming home from work when Amy is in their roasting away.

Weve also done recent collaborations with larger companies and artists like Pearl Jam and Billy Reid - the award winning Bama-based clothing designer who puts a creative spin on heirloom quality traditional American clothing. They dont make beers, but these other entities inspire us non-the-less. The Billy Reid collaboration opportunity (full details here) spoke to us; as Billy's approach to design is very similar to the energy we spend bringing our Ancient Ales back to life. I painted the artwork for some very unique (very labor-intensive) shirts for Billy Reid that premiere at an event Im doing at his NYC store next week (Oct 19th from 5-6pm). If you are in town, stop by and Ill buy you a beer. The shirts are not for everyone. They retail for $56 and are for sale exclusively at the Billy Reid stores and website. I think they came out beautifully and the fabric is so soft wearing one feels like an all-day hug (shoutout to my friend Will Jacobs in Maine). I remember when the first batch of World Wide Stout came out well over a decade ago. It cost so much money and involved so much fermentation & aging time to make the beer, we had to charge around $150 per case. Some early craft beer supporters were a bit taken aback by the price. But the beer has proven to age as well as a worldclass port and I believe these unique shirts will age with the same sort of grace.

I find it a little disconcerting when I hear of a few folks suffering from collabo-fatigue. If done creatively, authentically and with quality - all collaborative efforts are good. The reason Dogfish isn't making enough beer to satisfy demand has nothing to do with us being distracted by the fun we have beer-high-fiving the artists and companies that inspire us. It has more to do with our disinterest in collaborating with acquisition-hungry big breweries or dollar-sign-blinded venture capitalists. We believe in strong growth over fast growth and we define strong growth in part as taking care of and championing the communities we believe in and work within. At any rate, we watch the inter-party gridlock in DC these days and are very proud of our priority of belief in the goodness that comes with prioritizing collaboration over competition.

Anyhoo the vast majority of our beers are done collaboratively with only our absolute community: our 180-odd co-workers. They inspire us each & every day. We are really excited about one of our newest intra-communal collaborations: Tweason'ale - a gluten-free beer fermented with malty buckwheat honey and strawberries which hits shelves in 4-packs late this year. Even though Tweason'ale recipe is an all-Dogfish project, the initial idea came from the community of regular guests at our brewpub and the beer lovers who write into us atinfo@dogfish.com. A top request we got this past year was for a gluten-free beer. We listened. And we answered. So I guess you could say Tweason'ale was in fact a collaborative beer between Dogfish and the community of passionate beer lovers who egged us on and inspired us to do an off-centered version of a gluten-free beer.

So, we already know you are fans of craft beer but out of curiosity, beyond craft beer, what inspires you? Where in the world do you turn for inspiration? From current and past Dogfish projects, you know that music, art and the entrepreneurial spirit often inspire me. Im lucky that I can bring those sources of inspiration into my day-to-day. Maybe you can too! Or perhaps, your inspiration fuels your life outside of your 9 to 5. Either way, wed love to hear about it. Post a comment below or hop on over to our Facebook page and share with all our friends.

Heres to you and your inspirations, cheers.