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Brewing Up a Business: Adventures in Beer from the Founder of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

3.72  ·  Rating Details ·  1,058 Ratings  ·  81 Reviews
Updated business wisdom from the founder of Dogfish Head, the nation's fastest growing independent craft brewery Starting with nothing more than a home brewing kit, Sam Calagione turned his entrepreneurial dream into a foamy reality in the form of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, one of America's best and fastest growing craft breweries.

In this newly updated Second Edition, Ca
ebook, 304 pages
Published January 19th 2011 by Wiley (first published May 5th 2005)
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Community Reviews

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Aug 29, 2011 Tim rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Like most people will tell you this is a book about business (and really marketing) and not about brewing or a brewery. Sam Calagione is a salesman and a marketer more than businessman or a brewer and everything he leaves his signature on lets you know that. This book is filled with stories and advice on brand building and doesn't focus as much on anything else. The blurb states "Starting with nothing more than a home brewing kit, Sam Calagione founded Dogfish Head Craft Brewery and made it Amer ...more
Sep 14, 2011 Tyler rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sam Calgione is definitely one of my heroes and as an entrepreneur myself this was a must read. I have been a homebrewer for a couple of years and i have always dreamt of what it would be like to own and operate my own brewery. Sam's book is not a recipe for success but the story about how he started and where he is today. I really dont feel like I learned alot but I agree with much of what was said. Calgione has a very hands-on approach to business and I am very impressed with his principles be ...more
John G.
Dec 12, 2016 John G. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: beerituality
Really enjoyed this book. I'm a big craft beer fan and alt commerce/local business supporter. This makes me realize why I so hate corporate work and cubicle hell. I deeply identify with the author's view on labor and customer relations. Love knowing the owner of Dogfish Head was a liberal arts (English) major and something of a nonconformist and rebel. Surprising amount of humility from the author. Another reviewer noted that the owner married into money, and his own dad was a millionaire, so no ...more
Neil White
Dec 26, 2011 Neil White rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sam Calagione is a brilliant man, although he's probably too humble to agree with you. He's also a bit of an oddball in an enjoyable way, so a book written in his trademark voice about a subject he dearly loves is always bound to be a winner, and that's definitely the case here. Here he gives both general tips for any young entrepreneur, spaced between entertaining anecdotes of his own experiences starting a business from nothing. It's worth listening to what he has to say as well, seeing as he' ...more
Leon Sammartino
This isn’t really a book about beer. I mean it’s written by Sam Calagoine who founded and still runs Dogfish Head Brewery, one of America’s leading craft breweries. But really this is a book about how to run a business (which just happens to be a brewery) as opposed to how to brew beer, drink beer or do anything else with beer.

Now Sam is the darling of the American Craft brew scene, and he is a master of pushing the Dogfish Head brand, as well as brand Sam. You can see him in the movies (He has
Sep 24, 2012 Colin rated it liked it
I bought this book because I was interested in reading about the brewing business and DogFish.

What the book is really about is how to start any kind of small business and Sam's personal suggestions. The book does gives some excellent ideas on how to go from a very small to medium size business I found it really lacked on how to even start a brewery. The sections on marketing and employee management are excellent!

The real surprise comes half way though the book where Sam reveals how he got the mo
Michael Travis
Apr 13, 2014 Michael Travis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: beer
As a beer lover and homebrewer I knew I was going to like this book on the surface. As I got deeper into the book I realized that Sam is a great business person as well as a great writer. The material in the book was so much more than a history lesson of Dogfish Head but an entrepreneur's guidebook that applies way beyond the beer and restaurant business. All facets of business are identified and discussed. The book keeps your attention as the story unfolds from the meager beginnings of his fora ...more
May 23, 2008 Gader rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Beer lovers and businessmen alike.. and Mike Terry
Dogfish Head beer is awesome and this book is no different. Being an English major before taking up beer brewing, Sam Calagione had no problem writing this book. The first half of the book is hilarious as he recounts his days getting in trouble at a private school and his first job at a beer bar in NYC with his friend Ricki Lake tasting his homebrews. The rest of the book goes on to tell the story starting a beer brewery...from repealing the prohibition laws still on the books in Delaware, to ro ...more
Giovanni Albanese Jr.
This was an OK book. I feel like when I picked it up I'd be reading a book that would help in the pursuit of opening up a brewpub. What I did learn, in fact, was how Sam Calagione loves himself and everything he has done with his own brewpub/brewery, Dogfish Head. There were a few things I could take away from this, but overall, I was disappointed. Plus, many of the pointers Calagione made were repeated over and over and over and over again. Thanks, Sam!

Finally, I would say that Mr. Calagione is
Jan 02, 2012 Colby rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Tom Derr
Recommended to Colby by: Craig Birgfeld
There are 2 books within this, and I read one part of it and skimmed the other. Throughout the book you learn the history and all about Dogfish Head beer, and some really interesting nuggets and stories on its founding and growth. That's the part I read. The other part I did not read was his advice and suggestions on how to start your own business and be successful based on his Dogfish experience. Also slightly annoying is his tendency to focus on how cool he is, which got old. Tom, your turn to ...more
Christopher Caplinger
I really wanted to give this book a higher review, as there were a lot of parts that I really enjoyed, but at times, it just got a little too "self-help-ey". All of the parts about how Dogfish head started and was built were really interested, and I really enjoy a lot of the motivational DIY business talk, but at some point it seemed like there was just a lot of repetition. I guess I was just hoping for more dogfish head misadventure stories and less motivational speech. Regardless, it's still w ...more
Feb 13, 2011 Eric rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is probably like a 2.5 so I rounded up to give this 3 stars. It's a business book, so it's predictably dry and technical in a few places, but it's by Sam Calagione, so it's much less so than most other business books. He is a really likable, smart guy, and is a great person to look up to for anyone interested in brewing or owning any kind of small business. It was interesting to hear his take on the types of things I'm sure many business go through. Also, it REALLY made me want a 90 min IPA ...more
Mike Dereix
Jan 12, 2011 Mike Dereix rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An inspiring look into the founding of the Dogfish Head Brewery written by the founder himself; Sam Caligione. Sam gives a first hand look into how he has built Dogfish head into the successful brand that it today and the challenges that he faced along the way. After reading this book, Sam proves himself to be someone you would really want to sit down and have a beer with. A must read for fans of Dogfish Head beer, and aspiring entrepreneurs. You can also view his show "Brew Masters" on the Disc ...more
Oct 16, 2010 Brooks rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I thought this would be filled with great stories about the brewery. It is, but there are few and far between. It is written in the tone of a self-help book - endlessly positive for the small business owner, not a beer geek.

For the beer geek, due to limited capital started with a glorified home brew equipment - 10 gallon brewery for the first year. This allowed them to experiment with 30 different brews the first year. But tremendously labor intensive. Further, quality control (for consistency)
Ryan Tracy
Apr 09, 2014 Ryan Tracy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting stories, great motivation and incredible insight into the marketing of a brewery. The biggest flaw in my opinion is the way Sam notes his company is always broke but then later discusses that the company was doing commercials and taking out loans from parents and uncles. I would have a appreciated more insight into those conversations or some reality that companies that are broke don't have money for commercials. That being said, it's a very insightful book and a must read for Any en ...more
Diego Cerezo
“Do anything, but let it produce joy” -Walt Whitman

Es un libro dedicado a cualquier empresario de pequeña empresa, asesorando a través de la experiencia de Sam en Dogfish Head. Hay un buen mix de historias durante el start-up phase de la empresa, el presente (2010) y la visión a futuro de la misma.

Coincido mucho en la filosofía de hacer negocios de Sam. Business-karma equation: the more time and effort you spend as a company helping groups of people who do not directly influence your monetary s
Terri Floccare
I did not read this book for its literary merits. I am not accustomed to reading business books. I read this because a family member is working at Dogfish Head and I wanted to learn about the company and Sam Caligione who is the heart and soul of the company. I was surprised at how much of what Sam talked about could also be applied to my profession. I loved getting a glimpse into this "off centered" company.
Mar 09, 2011 Derwin rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Parts of this book were great and others were not so great. I am starting to think all entrepreneurship books are equal. I was more interested in the stories Calagione had to tell rather than the typical MVVG/leadership business minutiae (which is, by the way, his favorite word). It took some effort to finish before I had to return it to the library. Sam seems like a interesting and intelligent person and I would be interested in indulging in the Dogfish Head experience.
Joshua Demello
Sep 22, 2015 Joshua Demello rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Not only does the guy brew great beer, he can also write! Must be his degree in English. If you ever wanted to see how a brewery actually gets started up and the trials and tribulations associated with it, you should pick up this book and read it cover to cover. I have way more respect for this brewery than I did initially and for Sam himself. He is telling the story of his company, but really providing a blueprint for anyone that wants to follow in his steps.
Bryan Vest
This book starts off well and has some very interesting information about business in general. About 75% of the way through the book became very boring and it took me a while to finish reading it because of this. I generally knew what the book was about when I started reading it and some of the information and personal stories in the first part are a good read, otherwise its just a book about running a business.
Gavin Hribar
Jan 24, 2016 Gavin Hribar rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
if you like beer, this book will make you love it. if you already love beer, this'll make you want to brew your own or get into a business. if either of those are a no-go, sam shares how his experiences in his business can relate to those in other industries, as well. he tells some pretty interesting stories and always ties them back to a worthwhile lesson. well-written, informative, funny, inspiring, check it out.
Dec 21, 2010 Sean rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Even though Sam Calagione is my man-crush, I have to be objective and give this book only 4 stars instead of 5. The reason is that, although it's an awesome book, I was looking for business advice a little more specific to starting a brewery. He gives some really good generic business advice and uses his brewery as examples, but I wish he would have gone into more detail about how he started his brewery. I learned a lot from this book, it just wasn't the home run I was expecting.
Andy Gagnon
Oct 05, 2011 Andy Gagnon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read the occasional business book now and again. Most of these books are a little dry. I really enjoyed reading this book because it's written in a very down to earth style. There is solid information here on how to grow a business and keep your sanity. There's a good balance between ideas, followed up with real world examples problems, solutions, and mistakes. Of course it doesn't hurt that all of the examples are about one of my favorite topics, craft beer.
Sep 09, 2009 Erik rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: food-drink
Sam Calagione is my hero and this books lays out the story of his founding Dogfish Head Brewery, his obstacles, and his overall business philosophy. There is some really insightful stuff in here that can be transferred to any business (the importance of sales, the importance of hiring effective people), though there were a few passages where Calagione's seemed like he was still 18 and not 35. That said, he is obviously a great businessman and I would work for him in a heartbeat.
Sam Calagione turns out to be a pretty good writer. Those expecting a lot of practical advice on starting up a small business or a brewery might want to turn elsewhere. Those looking for a text that addresses larger issues, contains amusing and personal stories about being involved in a startup/small businesses, and something that might make you feel hopeful but also aware of the amount of energy required will be happy.
Trent Emery
The brewing series on Discovery Sam hosts is far better if you are a passionate beer lover. But if interested in beer and business then this book mixes the 2 together as Sam shares building a brewing empire. Always enjoy small beginnings of a business taking on the faceless big beer baron businesses and winning by loving beer and trying new things all the time.
Jul 20, 2008 Chris rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I didn't finish this. It grew to be more a collection of business exploits written with a self-satisfied smugness.
I will probably keep this book around to reference from time to time as I try to figure my way around my own business venture.
It's not really the "how to" book I was led to believe, more like a "how I did it".
I enjoyed this book as an inside view of the experiences which helped to shape Dogfish Head into the pillar of craft brewing that it is.
I was hoping to glean some more practical advice and logistical guidance, but the main thrust of "Have a vision, create your niche, stay true to your mission" is always useful in any creative and business endeavor.
Ryan Matheson
Feb 01, 2009 Ryan Matheson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is an autobiography of Sam Calagione and the micro-brewery he founded named "dogfish head", along with his thoughts on anyone thinking of establishing an "alt-commerce" business.
I found the idea of beneficial inefficiency intriguing. he went on to explain that by spending more money on the highest quality ingredients he is intentionally creating value to his product.
Apr 24, 2014 Scott rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kinda of the opposite of the book by the founder of Lagunitas. The Lagunitas book, was a historical narrative with a sprinkling of lessons learned while starting a brewery. While this book was more of small business philosophy course, with a sprinkling of historical context wrapped around the founding of the brewpub and brewery.
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