News broke this afternoon that Dogfish Head, the beloved southern Delaware based craft brewery, will be merging with Boston Beer Company in a $300,000,000 deal that will see Dogfish Head founder Sam Calagione join the board of directors of Boston Beer Company while Boston Beer CEO Dave Burwick takes the reigns as CEO of the combined entity.
Boston Beer Company is known for their national craft beer brand, Sam Adams.
The news was met with mixed reaction on social media and on the airwaves of Delaware 105.9, with callers accusing Dogfish Head of "selling out".
Here's the thing: they're really not.
Mergers in the upper echelons of the craft beer industry--and let's be real, Dogfish Head, with their massive Milton brewing operation, two restaurants, and their Lewes inn, qualifies as being in the upper echelons of the craft beer industry--aren't uncommon, and will become more common in the future.
This is the 13th largest craft brewery in the country merging with the 2nd largest. If you're worried that Dogfish Head is going "corporate", you're far too late. That ship has sailed and the beer has only gotten more interesting as it has. You can get Dogfish all across the country: callers and texters to my Thursday show reported grabbing the stuff in Napa Valley, San Diego, Cleveland, and Colorado. "Corporate" doesn't necessarily mean "bad".
Plus, it's already been confirmed that Dogfish Head will be keeping its branding and will remain a craft brewery. I can't see them doing anything substantially different with their ludicrously popular Rehoboth restaurant complex or Milton Brewery as a result of this move, either.
A caller on Thursday relayed a story to me that I wasn't originally aware of. It was about Jim Koch, the co-founder of Boston Beer Company.
In 2008 there was a shortage of hops in the United States--the bittering agent used to create and flavor beer. Jim Koch and Boston Beer Company, rather than let smaller craft breweries--their chief competitors, at that--suffer, they started a hop sharing program. They sold the aromatic hops they could obtain from Germany for no profit, at-cost...cost that was far cheaper than the prices being offered to smaller craft breweries at the time. They did this because they wanted to see American brewed beer succeed in an era where it was flagging (if you recall, the last major American owned macrobrewing company, Anheuser-Busch, was sold that very same year to Belgium based InBev).
Personally, I think there are far worse hands our beloved Dogfish Head could be in.