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Excerpt from The Dogfish Head Book: 26 Years of Off-Centered Adventures

Excerpted with permission from the publisher, Wiley, from The Dogfish Head Book by Sam Calagione, Mariah Calagione, and Andrew C. Greeley. Copyright © 2022 by Sam Calagione, Mariah Calagione, Andrew C. Greeley, and Dogfish Head Marketing, LLC. All rights reserved. This book is available wherever books and eBooks are sold.

The Plan

It was time to seek out a location and financing. I knew I wanted
the restaurant to have an open kitchen so guests could watch the action
in the kitchen from their vantage point at the dining tables or bar stools.
The concept was to be fully transparent, to give every guest complete
access into the workings of the restaurant and pub, and to celebrate the
ingredients and the process of brewing and making great food directly
with the consumer. We wanted everyone in the restaurant to see the
ingredients for everything we served, the artistry behind making it,
whether it was food or beer, coming out of one commercial kitchen—
either going out to tables in the form of food on their plates, or coming
out of that same kitchen in buckets or baking pans and walking those
pans and buckets out of that commercial kitchen in the other direction
from the dining hall and into the little brewery. I envisioned bringing
pans of pumpkin meat or buckets of brown sugar or raisins or coffee or
licorice root out, walking by the customers and hopefully sparking their
curiosity about what the heck we were doing with these massive piles of
culinary ingredients in a brewery, and then of course we would put those
beers we were making on tap in that very same room and talk to every
customer about the intention behind the recipe. It would be thoughtfully
designed to not just include culinary ingredients in the beer, but to be
awesome, diverse partners for great food as well, and away we went on
that culinary mission in the brewing world.

The building I chose had a room attached to the main bar that used to be
a take-out kiosk. I realized that if we put a picture window into this wall,
which overlooked the main dining area, this room would be the perfect
spot to install the brewing equipment. Now all I needed was a brewery
to install.

I created a menu and tested different pizza-grilling techniques on my
backyard barbeque. I made pilot batches of beer and developed recipes,
homemade labels, and names for the different beers I brewed.
I began to understand the place Dogfish Head would fit in the market.
The big breweries were so focused on maximizing efficiency, marketing,
and distribution that although their beers were simple, mass-produced,
and all very similar, they got pulled through the marketplace every step
of the way. They created mass demand for their brands, and their pricing
structure was such that they were guaranteed a high volume of sales. To
find my niche I basically had to create a product and brand that were the
absolute opposite of the giant beer brands.

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