Brewing Goodness in the World through ‘Off-Centered Ales’

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You have the option of going toward goodness or evil in every choice you make, big or small, said Sam Calagione, founder of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery. The affable, charismatic brewer who was featured in the Discovery Channel series “Brew Masters” and who is seen as a pioneering craft brewer, Calagione is well-known and admired in his industry. With his progressive craft brewer-meets-almost Eastern, yogic philosophy, it is easy to see why.  He challenges his compatriots to infuse the world with joy rather than negativity, to take the road less traveled and to roam in both the physical and mental sense.

Calagione established Dogfish Head in 1995 as the smallest commercial brewery in America, at a time when only one commercial brewery was opening each week. Now, two open per day. He forged his own path, eschewing the prevailing pattern in the United States to simply amplify and perfect traditional European beers. Instead he took his inspiration from the culinary realm, brewing beers with ingredients like raisins and chicory. “Off-centered ales for off-centered people,” became the company tagline.

Today Dogfish Head is the 15th largest craft brewery in the country, producing 250,000 barrels per year. “I’m very proud of our scale, but I’m more proud that we achieved it without dumbing down our beers,” Calagione said.

So what else does the Columbia University English major–turned-successful brewer have to say to his fellow craft brewers?

  • “Don’t let the tail of money wag the dog of inspiration.”
  • “Don’t be concerned with what the majority of people are doing. Try to find your own path in the world. If it’s a valuable, valid path, people will join you on that journey.”
  • “The most successful entrepreneurs are those who can galvanize people around them to turn their fictitious dreams into reality.”
  • “We have a lot more to gain by helping each other than by fighting with each other.”
  • “Frankly, I don’t want to be influenced by what my brethren are doing.”