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Brewing Up a Business: Adventures in Entrepreneurship from the Founder of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery Hardcover – May 5, 2005

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Editorial Reviews


"Solid writing and a no-nonsense style...with a welcome avoidance of business jargon make this an enjoyable and practical read." (Library Journal, May 1, 2005)

From the Inside Flap

This is the exhilarating success story of a man who really likes beer—so much so that he decided to make a business of it. Starting with nothing but a home brewing kit, Sam Calagione turned his entrepreneurial dream into a foamy reality and built the country's fastest growing brewery—Dogfish Head Craft Brewery. Brewing Up a Business is the enlightening and entertaining story of Dogfish and Calagione, of the power of unconventional thinking, and of the hard lessons every entrepreneur learns along the way.

In just a few years, Calagione grew Dogfish from a tiny Delaware-based operation into one of the country's most popular independent brews, distributed in twenty-nine states. Along with creating the fastest growing independent brewery, he has established a successful restaurant featuring wood-grilled food, and expanded his brand to include a line of spirits made at his distillery. Even without the benefit of an advertising and marketing budget, Dogfish's revenues have soared—increasing by more than 100% in 2003 alone. That kind of success might not be normal for most small businesses, but then again, there's nothing normal about Calagione and Dogfish.

From his attention-grabbing publicity stunts, as when he crossed the Delaware River in a homemade boat to introduce his beer to New Jersey, to the creation of such questionable concoctions as peppercorn and lavender flavored beer, doing things differently has been the key to Calagione's success. It hasn't always worked—few people really wanted peppercorn and lavender flavored beer after all—but this fearless entrepreneur learned quickly that you can't reap big rewards without taking big risks.

Straight from Calagione's mouth, Brewing Up a Business offers a real-world look at what entrepreneurship is really like. It's hard work and frustrating to be sure—from exploding fermentation tanks to selling t-shirts at truck stops for gas money, Calagione encountered all the trials and tribulations of starting and running a business—but it's been worth it. With business booming, Calagione could probably stay the course, play it safe, and focus on doing what he's doing. But why would he? As you'll learn in Brewing Up a Business, being an entrepreneur is much more than just a lot of hard work—it's a lot of fun too. There are new beers to brew, restaurants to open, and beer movies to make.

Dogfish is proof that entrepreneurial dreams do come true. And Calagione is proof that you don't need a million dollars in seed money or a Harvard MBA to make your business a reality. For anyone who has a dream, this is all the inspiration and motivation you need to get started brewing up your own business.

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Product Details

Check out these recipes from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery [388kb PDF]
  • Hardcover: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (May 5, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471708682
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471708681
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (88 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,231,310 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

44 of 48 people found the following review helpful By AlchemistGeorge VINE VOICE on March 2, 2007
Format: Hardcover
The book is well named - its more about entrepreneurship, and not very much about the beer industry, and frankly, its about Sam, and Sam's business, and what Sam thinks about Sam's business. There is a great deal about Sam's incredibly brilliant product strategy - and it **is** a brilliant product strategy!

If you are interested in the brewing industry / business, there is not so much here.

The book is entertaining although not that informative, and reads like many new age business books. The founder has been tremendously successful. Suggest "beer school" if you want to learn about critical factors in brewing industry.
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36 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Bryan Carey VINE VOICE on September 16, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am a big fan of Dogfish Head beer and when I found out that brewer and entrepreneur Sam Calagione wrote a book about his company I was anxious to read it to see if Calagione had any interesting tips on the business of brewing and how he has made the Dogfish Head brand practically a household name among both beer geeks and beer critics. What I discovered with this book is that Sam Calagione has some good advice to offer brewing/restaurant entrepreneurs and others who have a pressing urge to start their own company. He has tried many different things, and his penchant for the unusual has proven to be a great success and it forms the backbone of his business.

Calagione spends the majority of this book discussing Dogfish Head Brewing from the early days of formation all the way to the point of maturity. He talks about his own business model and how it has helped transform his company. He talks about everything from innovation to employee morale to profit sharing to community involvement. He shows how his model of success has worked for his type of business and how the same model can be applied to other types of businesses as well.

This book see- saws back and forth between business guide and autobiography but it leans more toward the business side of the equation. Calagione frequently offers up his own company as an example of which business tactics work and which do not. Calagione has achieved a great deal of success but he has the humility to admit that he has also made his share of mistakes. He points these out in the book where appropriate, showing how a misstep here and a miscalculation there added up to exponential problems down the road and what you, the fledgling business owner, can do to avoid making the same mistakes.
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful By J. Furiosi on December 31, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I remember waiting in a long line for a 2oz sample of the Worldwide Stout. As a beer fan, I recognize the creativity and richness of Dogfish Head's products whether it be 90 Minute IPA, Raison De'tre or Festiva Lentina. There are quite a few beers I still need to get my hands on.

If this book was limited to the description of the history of the company and its marketing strategies, I'd give it 5 stars. They are clearly experts at creating products their niche group of customers want and are adept at limiting qualities to create more demand. The description of "Randall the Enamel Animal" and stories of bottles exploding because the corks were to large definately appeal to beer geek crowd I belong to.

Where it falls short is when Calagione offers his advice on how to brew up a business. The resiliency he has shown by learning from mistakes is inspiring as well as the dedication he shows to his customers and workers. The emphasis on had work is similarly admirable. But the how to start and run a business tips are pretty straightforward and do not add much to already established mantras.

I like how he used Buddhism to describe how he is focused more on the doing than the materialistic aims of business. He admits to being somewhat ADD, and like the ADD nature of the book, he jumps to this idea but then jumps to another one. The book gets repititive at times as it repeats the ideas of catering to customers and workers over and over as if readers need conversion. The "We at Dogfish Head" sentences get a bit preachy sometimes. Also, Calagione should take into account that not each reader will be involved in business. "Your business" is repeated frequently.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Dan Whiteley on October 14, 2006
Format: Hardcover
So why buy this book? The reasons are three-fold:

Firstly, if you have any interest in what makes Dogfish Head, Dogfish Head, you're a candidate. This book provides a peak at the mind behind the movement, the creation of the brand, and the hard years that made the company. It will give you a look at what's behind the label, behind the bottle, and into the blood, sweat, and tears. Chances are you already know how unique the beer is, but you may not know why.

Secondly, if you have an interest in starting your own business, of any kind, there is something for you in here. It must be said that, though this book centers on starting a small business, it should be used primarily as a springboard to bigger ideas not as a blueprint. Sam introduces a large number of ideas from which to develop your own strategies and fit your own needs. To his credit, he never explicitly tells you what to do (though occasionally what not to do) which is positive because your business should have your personality in it, not Sam Calagione's. Again to his credit, he provides the reader with his own sources during his years of preparation. Books by other entrepreneurs which will help flesh out any idea. He also gives his OWN credit to the many people that got him and Dogfish Head where they are today. That is not a common theme in the world. Again, this book is not for you if you're looking for advanced strategies or specific business models. But it's a fantastic starting point.

Lastly, this book is wonderful for literature's sake. Even someone with no deep interest in beer or business can appreciate it. I've passed it on to several who have. Sam's superb writing style, along with his stories and anecdotes, serve both to keep the book entertaining and to illustrate and emphasize his points.
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