Book Review: Brewing Up A Business

January 21, 2011

Brewing Up a Business was writen in 2005 by Dogfish Head Craft Brewery founder Sam Calagione. Most of this book, with the exception of the last chapter, can be read for free on Google Books.  I have reviewed another one of Calagione’s books, He Said Beer, She Said Wine, as he was a English major in college so he does a bit of writing.

This book is not an autobiography, though he does talk a little about how he decided to open a brewery and restaurant, the laws he had to change to allow brewpubs, and a bit on his first equipment. However, he leaves out things like how he raised the money to start the brewpub. Instead, this book is more about what Calagione believes are the hot topics for running a business. He will talk about an issue such as marking or finance, support it with a personal story, and even try to spin it off how his views could be applied to a non-beer businesses.

I will say that this book motivated me to push a little more about starting up my own place, though I later read Beer School and realized the holes in Brewing Up a Business. However, I was thinking about rereading this book and posting about some of the topics and how they have me thinking about how to apply it to my own business.

Today, Calagione is feeling pretty secure with the success of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, which makes “Off-centered ales for off-centered people,” and recently aired on the Discovery Channel Brew Masters. The show follows him around as he is inspired to create a new beer, and shows a little bit of the brewing production successes and failures. One reoccurring thing that happened was that he would decide to take on a project and decide to have a tasting of it with very little time. This means that if his first attempt did not work out, there would be no second attempt to fix it. In fact, he did research for an Ancient Egyptian beer and took it to a event full of archeologists without letting anyone taste it first! He did a collaboration with Epic Beer, and they took that batch to a New Zealand competition. He was disappointed that he didn’t win, but I would have been disappointed if he had. I had been reading this book when I went to Pelican Brewpub, and inspired by this book, I asked their brew master how he came up with new recipes. I was basically told that after awhile of working with the beer making material, you know how the material is going to act, taste, and smell. So I get that Calagione is really comfortable brewing, but sometimes, with the tight deadlines and allowing no room for a possible improved second batch, it kind of left me rooting that one of these inital batches would fail because it is difficult for me to watch his poor planning.

I have to say though, Calagione is an interesting and entertaining guy to read and watch. I’ll be paying attention.

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3 Responses to “Book Review: Brewing Up A Business”


  1. […] I got done reading Brewing Up a Business, I started reading Beer School, which was also published in 2005. Beer School is about “Bottling […]


  2. […] has a very valid point. And after watching enough travel shows and even Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head Brewing do chicha on Brew Masters, it added extra influence and pressure to make the pulque recipe I had […]


  3. […] I don’t think this really needs an explanation, as it is Dogfish Head. […]


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