Sam Calagione vs negative "beer geeks"

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Kish84
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Sam Calagione vs negative "beer geeks"

Postby Kish84 » Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:45 pm

Some of you may have seen this on BA, or somewhere else. Say what you want about him or the beers they make, but I can't disagree with him at all.

http://beeradvocate.com/forum/read/4343008#4347378

Sam Calagione wrote:It's pretty depressing to frequently visit this site and see the most negative threads among the most popular. This didn't happen much ten years ago when craft beer had something like a 3 percent market share. Flash forward to today, and true indie craft beer now has a still-tiny but growing marketshare of just over 5 percent. Yet so many folks that post here still spend their time knocking down breweries that dare to grow. It's like that old joke: "Nobody eats at that restaurant anymore, it's too crowded.” Except the "restaurants" that people shit on here aren't exactly juggernauts. In fact, aside from Boston Beer, none of them have anything even close to half of one percent marketshare. The more that retailers, distributors, and large industrial brewers consolidate the more fragile the current growth momentum of the craft segment becomes. The more often the Beer Advocate community becomes a soap box for outing breweries for daring to grow beyond its insider ranks the more it will be marginalized in the movement to support, promote, and protect independent ,American, craft breweries.

It's interesting how many posts that refer to Dogfish being over-rated include a caveat like "except for Palo...except for Immort...etc." We all have different palettes which is why it's a great thing that there are so many different beers. At Dogfish we've been focused on making "weird" beers since we opened and have taken our lumps for being stylistically indifferent since day one. I bet a lot of folks agree that beers like Punkin Ale (since 1995) , Immort Ale (wood aged smoked beer) since 1995, Chicory Stout (coffee stout) since 1995 , Raison D'être (Belgian brown) since 1996, , Indian Brown Ale (dark IPA) since 1997, and 90 Minute (DIPA) since 2000 don't seem very weird anymore. That’s in large part because so many people who have been part of this community over the years championed them and helped us put them on the map.These beers, and all of our more recent releases like Palo Santo, Burton Baton, Bitches Brew continue to grow every year. We could have taken the easy way out and just sold the bejeezus out of 60 Minute to grow but we like to experiment and create and follow our own muse. Obviously there is an audience that appreciates this as we continue to grow. We put no more "hype" or "expert marketing" behind our best selling beers than we do our occasionals. We only advertise in a few beer magazines and my wife Mariah oversees all of our twitter/Facebook/dogfish.com stuff. We have mostly grown by just sharing our beer with people who are into it (at our pub, great beer bars, beer dinners, and fests) and let them decide for themselves if they like it. If they do we hope they tell their friends about. We hope a bunch of you that are going to EBF will stop by our booth and try some of the very unique new beers we are proudly bringing to market like Tweason'ale (a champagne-esque, gluten-free beer fermented with buckwheat honey and strawberries) and Noble Rot (a sort of saison brewed with Botrytis-infected Viognier Grape must). One of these beers is on the sweeter side and one is more sour. Knowing each of your palettes is unique you will probably prefer one over the other. That doesn't mean the one you didn't prefer sucked. And the breweries you don't prefer but are growing don't suck either. Respect Beer. The below was my favorite post thus far.


This thread is hilarious. Seriously, Bells, Founders, FFF, Surly, RR, DFH, Bruery, Avery, Cigar City, Mikkeller are all overrated?

Since I'm from Ohio, I'll pile on and add Great Lakes, Hoppin Frog, and Brew Kettle to the list. Your welcome.

Hopefully soon we will have every craft brewery in the US on the list.
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Postby Derek » Wed Jan 11, 2012 12:15 am

It's hard to believe those brews are 15+ years old!

I don't always like their experiments, but DFH was definitely an 'extreme' brewing pioneer... and they did it on the EAST coast!

They shook up the industry, and I'm thankful for that.
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Postby Ale's What Cures Ya » Wed Jan 11, 2012 2:06 am

I find it entertaining that the guy that started that thread has 10 posts and no reviews, and joined the forum last month. What a tool.

The craft beer scene (especially in the US) has moved on to the next step of popularity. Most people seem to be aware of its existence, even if they don't like or buy the products. When any hobby reaches this level of mainstream awareness it attracts a certain group of undesirable people. I'm not sure what is wrong with these people, but they always seem intent on ripping up the founders and early boosters of the hobby. They think they look "cool" or "hip" or "smart" by bashing the old guard. These people also seem to be the same kind of people that enjoy popping their collars or wearing knitted hats when it's 35 degrees out.

Sam Calagione has always struck me as a passionate, proud, hardworking, pioneering and most importantly honest man, and he is one hell of a brewer. If it weren't for guys like him I shudder to think where the North American beer scene would be today. When one of us bashes MolBatt's or BMC it's different than when someone bashes one of the small guys. The small guys are still in touch with the beer community, and as Sam's post clearly illustrates, it must sting a little to hear someone bash your product.

I say good on Sam for responding, and remaining civil about it. I agree with him about the best response:

"This thread is hilarious. Seriously, Bells, Founders, FFF, Surly, RR, DFH, Bruery, Avery, Cigar City, Mikkeller are all overrated?

Since I'm from Ohio, I'll pile on and add Great Lakes, Hoppin Frog, and Brew Kettle to the list. Your welcome. "


Absolutely absurd to label any of those breweries "overrated". Glad I stopped posting at that place when the macro apologists began showing up en masse a few years ago.
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Postby Draft_Punk » Wed Jan 11, 2012 7:09 am

Hello everyone! Lurker on the site for a long time, but have been in the scene for a while.

I can't remember exactly what sparked my interest in brewing, but I think that reading Sam's philosophy in various publications (Starting your own brewery, Brewing Up a Business, Extreme Brewing) really fired me up and turned me into a homebrewing beer geek. That's the power of a true entrepreneur, taking their vision, sharing it with others and hopefully stringing them along for the ride... I would say he's at minimum charismatic and can brew beer creatively, and that in itself (regardless of the outlook on products) deserves recognition.
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Postby TheSevenDuffs » Wed Jan 11, 2012 7:11 am

I had posted in that thread a day or two before Sam did and I was one of the people who specifically mentioned DFH as being overrated.

To be honest, after a couple of posts in that thread, I decided not to even go back and read it anymore. Just after clicking send on my second message to respond to someone who had questioned how anyone could think that DFH was overrated, I realized how ridiculous that thread was and I was embarrassed to have contributed negative comments to it.

I wouldn't have noticed Sam's post had you not posted it here, so thanks. I am glad that he did post and I agree with much of what he said. There is way too much negativity everywhere these days, including the craft beer community.
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Postby atomeyes » Wed Jan 11, 2012 8:44 am

my only comment is that appropriate negativity is a good thing.
for example, I don't get excited by craft beer just because its craft beer. there's great craft beer and crap craft beer.
making it Ontario relevant, i think its good to heap praise when appropriate, but to encourage growth and progress when someone's making meh beer.

but its the classic snobbery you get with beer, music, food, etc. "I liked Arcade Fire when they were 'Pool Hall Flood'" is relevant for microbreweries and your small restaurant once they hit the big leagues.

but that's fine. if FFF is too big for you, go support another small up-and-comer.
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Postby TheSevenDuffs » Wed Jan 11, 2012 9:10 am

atomeyes wrote:but that's fine. if FFF is too big for you, go support another small up-and-comer.
What really put that thread in to perspective for me was when 3 of my 5 faovurite breweries startred to pop up regularly in that thread (Founders, FFF, Bruery) ... that made me realize that the whole basis for people's posts in that thread came down to personal taste and that everyone is going to have a different answer. I can't even fathom how someone could consider Founders or FFF overrated ...
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Postby Belgian » Wed Jan 11, 2012 11:33 am

It seems the impetus for a lot of small brewers (even DFH?) to originally start up is they are very critical of beers that are available. Could we not say that of some of you who home brew, that you brew your vision because you can't BUY it?

But later the edgy brewers who get set up commercially seem to disbelieve the scene could still change and leave them behind, so to speak. They still sell volume but are no longer viewed as 'leading edge.'

So there's some irony in Caglione's commentary, that he's feeling disenfranchised from the very movement he's part of 'just because' they adapted production commercially and got a little predictable over the years. After alll I think we beer lovers are driven by a general restlessness for 'cult' beers & innovative beers that would never suit a high-capacity operation - at least not by itself.

I think brewers like Amsterdam have realized you can straddle the line and sort of be both. This isn't the 1990's, and there's no point being in denial about constant change. I believe Amsterdam and Muskoka will benefit even as bigger commercial companies by staying right on the youthful pulse of leading edge craft beer.
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Postby sprague11 » Wed Jan 11, 2012 12:04 pm

The whole thread is a gong show. It's all a matter of taste and the person doing the tasting.
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Postby markaberrant » Wed Jan 11, 2012 12:30 pm

Belgian wrote:It seems the impetus for a lot of small brewers (even DFH?) to originally start up is they are very critical of beers that are available. Could we not say that of some of you who home brew, that you brew your vision because you can't BUY it?

But later the edgy brewers who get set up commercially seem to disbelieve the scene could still change and leave them behind, so to speak. They still sell volume but are no longer viewed as 'leading edge.'

So there's some irony in Caglione's commentary, that he's feeling disenfranchised from the very movement he's part of 'just because' they adapted production commercially and got a little predictable over the years. After alll I think we beer lovers are driven by a general restlessness for 'cult' beers & innovative beers that would never suit a high-capacity operation - at least not by itself.

I think brewers like Amsterdam have realized you can straddle the line and sort of be both. This isn't the 1990's, and there's no point being in denial about constant change. I believe Amsterdam and Muskoka will benefit even as bigger commercial companies by staying right on the youthful pulse of leading edge craft beer.


Great post all around. Sam is as honest and genuine as it gets, but at the same time, it is pretty absurd to not expect some backlash when you are successful. One big selling feature of craft beer is the whole "underdog" mentality... while DFH is still an underdog compared to the macros, they are sitting at the top of the heap amongst the craft brewers... so what do you expect?

And in the last year or so, with so many new "cutting edge" breweries, and endless seasonals and one-offs being pumped out every which way, a brewery such as DFH "may" seem to old and outdated by comparison. This is compounded of course by a massive influx of new craft beer enthusiasts who may not even be overly familiar with DFH and their history, so again, they are just going after whatever seems shiny and new and cutting edge.

So yes, Sam does have a point, but as some may say, "it is what it is."
Last edited by markaberrant on Wed Jan 11, 2012 12:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby JeffPorter » Wed Jan 11, 2012 12:31 pm

Belgian wrote:But later the edgy brewers who get set up commercially seem to disbelieve the scene could still change and leave them behind, so to speak. They still sell volume but are no longer viewed as 'leading edge.'

So there's some irony in Caglione's commentary, that he's feeling disenfranchised from the very movement he's part of 'just because' they adapted production commercially and got a little predictable over the years. After alll I think we beer lovers are driven by a general restlessness for 'cult' beers & innovative beers that would never suit a high-capacity operation - at least not by itself.



Really interesting point. I do believe we're sometimes more attracted to the cult status of beers (or bands, or plays, or whatever) rather than tasting and simply enjoying it.

I sometimes wonder if we're a little different from American Beer Geeks. When I read The Brewmaster's Table, I realize that Americans seem to speak very little about "classic" mainstay beers that aren't from the US(say, Fuller's London Porter or Schneider Weiss) and I wonder, quite frankly, if some U.S. beer drinkers aren't a little spoiled and even overwhelmed with their own beers that they've lost a sense of where good beer came from originally.

Most of the comments in that list seemed to be about price. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, I think we beer drinkers are pretty lucky that we are into DIPAs (that we can get for up to $10) and not into Bordeauxs where we could spend God knows how much.

My favourite posts in that thread are by the two guys from Mississippi, who talk about how it's illegal to homebrew and also that their craft beer choices are heavily taxed.

I dunno. Maybe U.S. beer drinkers have just gotten to a saturation point, and it's going to be more difficult to satisfy them.

Can you imagine a "worst Ontario craft brewer" thread on this site?

I can't.
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Postby markaberrant » Wed Jan 11, 2012 12:34 pm

JeffPorter wrote:When I read The Brewmaster's Table, I realize that Americans seem to speak very little about "classic" mainstay beers that aren't from the US(say, Fuller's London Porter or Schneider Weiss) and I wonder, quite frankly, if some U.S. beer drinkers aren't a little spoiled and even overwhelmed with their own beers that they've lost a sense of where good beer came from originally.


Craft beer is so big in the US, they don't NEED imports. Depending on how you look at it, this is good and bad. Bad in the sense that they may not understand the history and underlying styles, but good in the sense that as a result they can truly build their own distinct beer culture.

In my opinion, this is far more good than bad. All you have to do is look at craft beer in Canada, still very much stuck in traditional english and german styles, and still very dependent on imports to put together a reasonable selection of decent beer.
Last edited by markaberrant on Wed Jan 11, 2012 3:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby TheSevenDuffs » Wed Jan 11, 2012 1:37 pm

markaberrant wrote:
JeffPorter wrote:When I read The Brewmaster's Table, I realize that Americans seem to speak very little about "classic" mainstay beers that aren't from the US(say, Fuller's London Porter or Schneider Weiss) and I wonder, quite frankly, if some U.S. beer drinkers aren't a little spoiled and even overwhelmed with their own beers that they've lost a sense of where good beer came from originally.


Craft beer is so big in the US, the don't NEED imports. Depending on how you look at it, this is good and bad. Bad in the sense that they may not understand the history and underlying styles, but good in the sense that as a result they can truly build their own distinct beer culture.

In my opinion, this is far more good than bad. All you have to do is look at craft beer in Canada, still very much stuck in traditional english and german styles, and still very dependent on imports to put together a reasonable selection of decent beer.
Well said...
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Postby sprague11 » Wed Jan 11, 2012 2:45 pm

A good bit of it is pushed by nano-snobs who will crap on anything the size of DFH, Stone, etc.

I can see where people may not like the beers of a certain brewer, but it's all subject to taste. I find some of Southern Tier's beers to be cloyingly sweet and don't care for most of the leftover stock of Rogue that the LCBO brings in, but they still make good beers. I've privately crapped on Mill Street numerous times but many many others disagree with me. Doesn;t make me right or make them idiots - just different tastes.


JeffPorter wrote:Can you imagine a "worst Ontario craft brewer" thread on this site?

I can't.


Trafalgar.

there, saved us the trouble.
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Postby J343MY » Wed Jan 11, 2012 6:24 pm

I think Sam and several other people misinterpreted that thread somewhat. It wasn't a thread about the worst breweries in the states. For the most part nobody was saying DFH, Three Floyds, Founders, etc. are bad breweries, its just that their beers don't always live up to the hype that surrounds them.

For better or worse, hype plays a major role in the craft beer world, especially on sites like Rate Beer, and Beer Advocate. In that context, I think that the thread was totally valid and nobody should get upset that their favourite brewery (or their own brewery) gets brought up in the discussion.

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