Monday, June 20, 2005

Philadelphia Inquirer Article on Dogfish Head Brewery
There are no talking frogs, no hot chicks wrestling in mud, no blimps, and no free neon sign giveaways to promote Dogfish Head beer. Calagione knows there is simply no point in a small brewery competing with Big Beer at its own game, a gambit that focuses on anything but the weak flavor of its drink.

So Calagione, the Massachusetts-born son of a successful oral surgeon, has evolved his own strategy of alt-commerce. It's a sort of marketing jujitsu that positions Dogfish as the anti-cheap beer, with shiny caps and poetic run-on labels printed on fancy paper usually used for wine bottles. The push to break previous price barriers reflects not only the expense of making his high-alcohol beers, which require more barley, exotic ingredients and aging time, but also what Calagione calls his "evangelistic" mission to elevate beer's blue-collar image to an esteem equal to that of wine.
But Chateau Jiahu presented other challenges, including how the ancients began fermentation of the rice. The brewers could use a mold cake traditionally used in Chinese rice wines, or they could chew and spit the rice into a bowl and let the saliva enzymes go to work - a rustic East Asian technique.

"Sam was definitely all about chewing the rice," admits Dogfish Head distillery manager Mike Gerhart. "He really wanted saliva to be one of the ingredients on the label. But you've got to pick and choose your battles."

So mold cake it was, imported directly from the University of Beijing. And the final result is a surprisingly golden brew. Part sake, part beer, part honeyed muscat wine, it has a a sweet nose and a soft champagne fizz but a surprisingly dry flavor that finishes with a whiff of smoke and funky fruit that clings to your throat.

The first batch of Chateau Jiahu has been served exclusively in the Rehoboth brew pub, and may or may not go into mass production.

I saw this...he seems like a cool guy. Did you hear that beer distributors might go on strike?? Say it ain't so...

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