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Meeting Sam Calagione

My wife is attending a local university as she pursues her PhD and as part of that undertaking, she is required to attend a certain number of seminars. These seminars do not need to be major based, but just attended. I guess it is the high level version of “Gen Eds.” Anyway, she spotted that the business department was having a seminar given by none other than Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head. I quickly decided that I needed to attend some high education and joined her in this seminar.

We entered a small auditium to find it half filled with a bunch of business majors wearing suits. I quickly removed my Phillies hat and placed it over top of my knee as I sat down in a halfhearted attempt to hide it. We received a few funny glances from the professors and made sure that we were in the right spot. Soon enough Sam walked in and was formally introduced.

Being a business seminar he talked a lot about the entrepreneurial side of things, many of which are highlighted in his book Brewing Up a Business. A few things struck me when he answered questions during the Q&A session. On student asked, “Why Dogfish Head for a name?” I knew the origins of the name (an island close to where Sam grew up) but never really related it to the business side of things. Sam’s answer was simple and made a lot of sense. He said that he did not want to name the company after something local to Delaware, since the name carries a location with it. He wanted something that meant something to him, but also couldn’t be tied down to any one location. He went on to say that people would be less out to buy beer from “The Delaware Brewing Company” than what they would be from “Dogfish Head,” even if they sell the same product. Interesting.

He also went on to tell the importance of being a story teller for your company and making sure that everyone who works at the company is on board with the story. Again simple, but makes a lot of sense. There were a few other questions about general beer knowledge including one on how beer was made. It was interesting to see how Sam conveyed the information, making it accessible and also detailed. I think my favorite question was asking where someone asked for his biggest piece of advice to an entrepreneur. Sam said to not go into anything under-financed. Have enough cash to not just start a business, but maintain on for a significant period of time.

The most exciting part came after the talk had officially ended and student had the chance to come up and ask Sam personal questions. I saw one student hand over a bottle of beer (great idea) to Sam and a few others had some general financing questions. I stood at the back of the line as I 1. was not a student of the university, and 2. wanted to talk about beer, not business. My turn finally came and Sam introduced himself warmly and I thanked him for distributing beer to Texas. I explained how they have almost no beer culture in Lubbock and that Dogfish and Victory were my only real tastes of home while I was out there.  I didn’t want to beer geek out on him so I thanked him again and walked away.

I was really glad that I took the opportunity to go to the meeting and actually meet Sam. It is something that this beer geek is going to remember for some time. Sadly, my camera did forget my meeting rather quickly as everything came out very blurred thanks to the terrible lighting and my distaste for using a flash while people are talking.

I hate beer snobs!

Out in Texas I ran into a few beer snobs at the local homebrew club, but overall, they didn’t bother me all that bad. They knew what they liked and what they didn’t. No problem with that. Now that I live in Delaware, I have run into more beer snobs than I have ever met. I think this is do to a larger number of educated beer people, but it is getting annoying.

I was at my new favorite beer place yesterday trying to grab a bottle of Dogfish Head’s Bitches Brew and I ran into the worst beer snobs I have ever met. It started with my wife and I looking around the store trying to see if they had it. We could not find it in any of the coolers or on the shelves so we asked one of the guys who works there if they had it. Limit two per customer, cool. As the worker descended into the back room, a couple who overheard the conversation came over to us and said, “we had a bottle of that this morning, it was alright, not really that great.” What! The rules of being in public say that you don’t listen in on other peoples conversations and make comments on them.

You also do not give your opinion on a beer that someone else specifically asked for unless they ask you for one. We were in the store for about a half hour getting what we wanted and the couple did not move from one shelf the entire time. They were in the way, and were on their iPhones looking up each and every beer on the shelf. If it didn’t have an “A” rating, it did not go in the cart. I hate that. Get something that you like, don’t depend on other people’s tastes. I love the craft beer world and love the community surrounding it, but those kinds of people drive me up the wall.

Moving sucks

My wife and I are just about settled into our new place. After about two and a half weeks of being displaced, I can happy to be done this process. Now if our apartment complex could fix our AC everything would be ready to go. I probably will not get back to normal updates till this weekend, but they are coming. A few highlights on the new apartment:

  • Gas stove (hooray quicker boils for homebrewing)
  • A large walk-in hall closet that my wife has already designated as “the place were all of your stupid beer stuff is going.”
  • There is a brewpub down the street
  • A beer store exists in the same shopping center as the brewpub, I am going to check out their selection today
  • While not beer related, this place is super nice compared to our last place and has a lot more room

I am looking forward to having everything fully settled, but we are close. On another note I have a job, which is awesome. So far everything about the east is better than Texas. To make our move to Delaware official I think a trip to Dogfish Head is in order.

Back home

The move went off without a hitch. We ran into some mild traffic jams and a few downpours on our 3 days, 30 hours, 1800 mile trip, but all in all, it went as good as can be expected. The pup is a champion car rider and sat in the front passenger seat of my wife’s car and slept the whole time. We are now back in southeastern PA and will be moving to Delaware in a few weeks. Updates will be back but there are still going to be slow as we are trying to unpack as little as possible until we make the final move. Also sorry about the site getting that 403 error. Apparently the host changed a few permissions on files that were using up CPU space and our index file (the one you see) was a problem. I got all of that sorted out, I just wish they would of told me before they made the move.

It feels great to be back. I enjoyed a few Yuengling’s the night that I went out and was very pleased to have that familiar taste available to my taste buds again. Yuengling was actually the first beer that was reviewed on the site. I think my reviews have gotten much better since then. I am glad to be back home and the reviews will start flowing as soon as we get fully settled here. I have a bunch of homebrewing to get caught up on as well.