Reviews, Commentary and Opinions on Midwest Craft Beer and Microbreweries

March 22, 2011

Beer Issues:

Goodbye And Good Luck

No need to fret when a “national” craft brand pulls out of the Midwest.
by Eddie Glick

I like my beer like my women: pale, strong, full-bodied, and extremely bitter.
Contact Eddie»
A few days ago I read this open letter from Sam Calagione, founder and prez of Dogfish Head Brewery. If you’re too lazy to read the letter, I’ll sum up: he apologetically explains that due to skyrocketing demand, Dogfish Head will limit some of their “core beers,” or pull distribution entirely, from several states, including Indiana and Wisconsin.

To be honest, I wouldn’t be all that heartbroken if Dogfish Head pulled out of the entire Midwest. But it’s not that I dislike their beers or the company. Although none of their brews are “must haves” for the beer fridge, I think they make some good stuff, and Sam Calagione is a charismatic and passionate voice for craft beer. Hell, I didn’t even hate Brew Masters nearly as much as seemingly every other beer dork on the planet.

No, the main reason I wouldn’t be at all sorry to see them pull their distribution back to just Milton, Delaware is because the days of needing a recognizable—a “national” craft brand, if you will—are gone. There are plenty of local- or at least state-brewed options to choose from nowadays, and craft beer has entered enough of the popular culture’s consciousness that the average diner or bar patron won’t be confused by a non-swill, unmarketed, “dark beer” popping up on a menu or tap handle.

It used to be when a bar or restaurant wanted to look eclectic or “sophisticated” they’d offer Sam Adams or Sierra Nevada or New Belgium or Dogfish Head. (Not to mention porpoise hork like Stella Artois or Carlsberg.) Well, it’s high time that places figured out that they’ve got just as good, if not better, beer being brewed in their backyard. And I wouldn’t be all that displeased if a couple of other bigger craft breweries tightened up their reach a bit, too.

So no offense to Mr. Calagione and the hard working folks at Dogfish Head. In fact, I salute you for deciding to pull back distribution and focusing on quality instead of quantity. It’s just that I’m much happier ordering an Alpha King, a Crooked Tree, a Cane and Ebel, or a Ballistic than a 60 Minute IPA.

Drinkin’ And Thinkin’

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