Dogfish Head Has no Plans for Cans

The past year has seen a proliferation of excellent beers available in cans, which offer many benefits to the consumer and to the environment.  But one thing cans don’t offer is the elegance of a bottle, and that’s at the heart of why Dogfish Head has no plans to can their beers. 

“I love seeing the success of all the canned beers that are out there.  But for us it’s just not an arena we’re choosing to play in” Sam Calagione told us.  Why?  Because cans run counter to his brewery’s mission to elevate beer beyond its everyday image.

“Our focus since the day we opened has been ‘let’s try to bring beer into the context of wine,’ meaning beer can be as flavorful as wine, as complex, and as food compatible as wine.” Sam says.  “That’s at the heart of our mission and we feel it’d be very confusing to put our wine-like beers into cans.  So for now were more committed to the champagne bottle 750 ml format.”

The only thing that might change this is if super high-end American wines start canning their wares. “When you get Screaming Eagle 16 oz pounders in cans, call me back,” Calagione joked.

Calagione and his crew over at Dogfish Head have always danced to the beat of their own drum, and while it’s disappointing that we’ll probably never see 60 Minute IPA in cans, it’s refreshing to see the brewery staying true to who they are.

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Categories: Beer, dogfish head, News, sam calagione, Uncategorized

Author:Jim

Craft beer nerd, frequent beer blogger and occasional home brewer.

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35 Comments on “Dogfish Head Has no Plans for Cans”

  1. Wayne
    September 27, 2011 at 10:25 am #

    Can you imagine bombers in cans? You’d have to finish the whole thing in one sitting–what a shame (LOL)

    • September 27, 2011 at 10:26 am #

      That’s how I roll now (sometime I have help), so no problemo!

    • September 27, 2011 at 11:13 am #

      That day may not be too far off. Eddyline Brewery in Buena Vista, Colorado is starting to release their beer in 16 ounce tallboy cans.

      • September 27, 2011 at 11:20 am #

        Yikes!

        • September 28, 2011 at 1:11 pm #

          Just found out that everyone’s favorite beer in a can, Dale’s, will be available next year in tallboys. Forgot to mention earlier that New Belgium is planning on tallboys also.

  2. September 27, 2011 at 10:33 am #

    Kudos to Sam for what might be the single best reason for not going Stienbeck by entering Cannery Row!

    Don’t get me wrong – I’m a fan (albeit a converted one) of canned craft beer and the recent expansion of canned options made for a most enjoyable week on the beach in Ocean City, NJ. That said, Sam’s reasoning is impossible to argue with from the perspective of Dogfish Head’s articulation of their own mission.

    But yes, things could change. I guess we could see 30 can cubes of Baron Lafitte Rothschild at the neighborhood Roger Wilco sometime soon……………

    Cheers!
    @TheAlemonger

    • September 27, 2011 at 10:35 am #

      I agree – nothing wrong with being true to the mission. I found his reasoning pretty interesting and figured it warranted it’s own post.

  3. JB
    September 27, 2011 at 11:17 am #

    I could argue that by canning beer of that quality you would in fact be elevating it far beyond it’s current image. I think it’s short-sighted for any brewery to rule out cans. The wine industry is the same way with their reluctance to put wine in boxes or with screw caps.

    • September 27, 2011 at 11:22 am #

      I agree, but when you’re trying to change a perception (in this case about beer) going to the lowest form of packaging (cans, which scream “Bud Light”) is probably not the best idea.

      I agree that canned beers are awesome (so does Sam) but when you’re chaing an image, it’s impossible to shake the stigma of cans.

  4. September 27, 2011 at 11:26 am #

    That’s an interesting angle in the great can debateTM. I actually love how DfH is challenging wine for a spot at the table. The can, no matter how good a function it serves, just doesn’t fit on a gourmet’s table. Of course, this will just add to the criticism of the brewery from the crowd who thinks DfH is too fancy-pants for their gullets.

    • September 27, 2011 at 11:45 am #

      Haters are gonna hate no matter the circumstances, so it’s probably no big deal.

  5. September 27, 2011 at 11:48 am #

    I’m kind of torn on this issue. While I love the idea of Dogfish Head’s premise, I also don’t like the “we are above that” attitude it almost gives off. I almost feels like the, the way dogfish operates, they would create their own brew specifically for the can. Maybe that is far to close to jumping on a growing trend though.

    • September 27, 2011 at 12:23 pm #

      I think it’s okay to have a mission in mind and stay the course. In this case, it keeps DFH from utilizing cans, in other cases, it inspires them to create some unusual and awesome beers.

      Sam didn’t sound like he thought DFH was too good for cans, but that cans aren’t a good fit for their brand and their mission. I think he’s right.

  6. The Wookie
    September 27, 2011 at 2:45 pm #

    I am over my phobia of canned brew and love the portability (and poolside safety) of cans. I like to see canned brews that fit the session beer category (light, refreshing, and lower ABV). There aren’t a whole lot of DFH brews that fit this bill. When I think DFH I think wild flavors and high ABV so it makes sense to DFH to stick to bottles. I don’t think I will be dragging a can of Theobroma to the beach anytime soon. I’ll stick with a Dale’s Pale Ale or Lancaster Kolsh.

    • September 27, 2011 at 2:47 pm #

      While I agree with you, oh my furry friend, a Ten Fidy by a body of water on a summer evening is quite appealing to me.

      • The Wookie
        September 27, 2011 at 7:28 pm #

        I hear you but DFH has become a big bottle funky brew to enjoy with friends over dinner. The “micro kegs” from Oskar Blues beg to iced down, thrown in a backpack, and enjoyed by a lake … with friends over dinner. As long there are friends, brew, and food life is good in bottles or cans!

        Note: What Sam failed to mention is that the snobbery associated with wine allows him to get $12+ retail for a 750ml bottle (two – 12oz beers). DFH would be hard pressed to get $36 for a 6-pack (six – 12oz beers) or even $12+. Economics not image is the real driving force here. Sam isn’t trying for a place on the white table cloth, he is trying for a place in the black leather wallet.

        • October 11, 2011 at 8:29 pm #

          $36 for a sixer of DFH would kinda take the shine off venturing ‘upscale’ and trying something ‘new & different’ v your everyday MEGABEERCO swill, eh?

  7. September 27, 2011 at 4:05 pm #

    Sam’s got a good point, I think it’s totally fair to package your beer to meet a certain image. The snobbery against beer by many wine drinkers is misguided and will take some time to overcome.

    And honestly, it would be weird going down into someone’s beer cellar to check out their vintage ’09 tallboy can of Firestone Walker Parabola.

    • September 27, 2011 at 4:25 pm #

      That’s a good point about cellared cans – it’s the difference between peach preserves in a mason jar and a can of Libby’s peaches in light sauce. Might be kind of the same thing, but one says artisan and the other says lowbrow.

      BTW, the fact that you’re site is the marriage of beers and bears make it the Offical Favorite Site of the Beer and Whiskey Brothers (and probably our bear obsessed friends).

    • October 11, 2011 at 8:49 pm #

      The ‘battle’ isn’t to ‘convert’/persuade wine drinkers to ‘give craft a chance’.

      The ‘challenge’ is to convert to ‘craft’ the masses, the brain-washed hordes hammered incessantly by hundreds of millions of dollars (annually) of swill-fueled, MEGABEERCO / MEGAADCO ‘messaging’ working to hold onto that 94% market share.

      While this market segmentation can/will work for a few DFH speciality brewers, the rest will need to target and convert (one pint @ a time) that 94% of existing #beer drinkers by invitation & persuasion using familiar packaging AND a MUCH more ‘friendly’ price point than $36 a sixer.

  8. Sean
    September 27, 2011 at 5:28 pm #

    Before their parent company was purchased by a bunch of partying d-bags I used to by 24oz cans of Stag Beer whenever I had the opportunity. As a cousin who spotted me buying some stated “I see you have the 2 by 4.” Pounding a 24 oz can of Stag is equivalent of getting hit upside the head with a 2×4. I’d much rather have a 2×4 of DFH 60. Bell’s is canning Oberon which is great for float trips.

    • September 28, 2011 at 11:21 am #

      Lots of good beers coming out in cans now, and many are NOT produced by partying d-bags, which is nice. :)

  9. Steve
    September 28, 2011 at 10:15 am #

    Sam says cans aren’t fitting with DFH’s image, but I can’t help but wonder what about the eco/green movement a lot of breweries, including DFH, have embraced? I know DFH is big on sustainability and protecting the environment. Don’t cans help in that sense? Don’t they reduce shipping costs and hence use of fuel, since they’re lighter than glass and there will be less breakage/loss? And I assume they also cut down on packaging since there’s no longer a need for 6-pack or 4-pack cardboard containers. Maybe I’m wrong about all that though. Anyway, I’m a huge DFH/Sam fan and so are tons of others, so I don’t think the canless stand is going to hurt them much.

    • September 28, 2011 at 11:20 am #

      I think they’d do it if being environmentally friendly was their only mission, but looks like making people see beer in a whole new way is more important to them.

  10. September 28, 2011 at 11:12 am #

    I’d love to see DFH60/90/120 in 750ml. The Squall IPA is pretty much the 90 and it rocks.

    • September 28, 2011 at 11:19 am #

      A 750ml of 120 would have to come with a bottle of Advil and a warning from the Surgeon General!

      And, I’m with you – it’d be great!

  11. September 28, 2011 at 3:11 pm #

    Jim,

    Was this part of a larger interview?

    My 2cents on cans.

    http://www.beerphxation.com/2011/05/not-hater-not-canboi-case-for-measured.html

    • September 28, 2011 at 3:24 pm #

      Yup. We spent 30 minutes with him on the phone. I need to write it up, but it’s a lot.

  12. September 30, 2011 at 6:17 pm #

    Had my first taste of yet another DFH winner today—India Brown Ale–hoppy with a great mouth feel and definite chocolate notes, very reminiscent of a good stout. Definitely another go-to beer. Sam compares it to a Shiraz (my favorite red) for pairing with food.

    Sam, your stock continues to go up with me.

  13. Don
    October 11, 2011 at 2:11 pm #

    Just ran across this sustainability perspective on cans vs bottles in the craft brew industry: http://bit.ly/qUWRCL
    I’m not a beer afficionado, but I’m local to the Dogfish brewery and stop in every once in a while to stock up. For a variety of reasons, I hope they do stick with glass.

    • Steve
      October 11, 2011 at 2:45 pm #

      Thanks for that. Here’s another assessment that compares glass vs. aluminum. This one concludes that aluminum is the greener choice, unless bottles are reused. If the bottles are re-used multiple times, then glass is the clear winner in terms of a smaller environmental impact. But I think in practice a lot of bottles (maybe even the majority?) are discarded and aren’t re-used, so I guess we should be encouraging re-use of bottles. http://www.inkavera.com/2011/02/07/solidworks-sustainability/beer-in-aluminum-cans-or-in-glass-bottles/

  14. October 11, 2011 at 7:48 pm #

    off centered is as off centered does but…

    While it doesn’t figure that this ‘Sam’ can’t/won’t easily be persuaded to try cans, I think that Caligione (just like the protagonist ‘Sam’ in ‘Green Eggs & Ham’ was finally successful in convincing his reluctant friend to try ‘green eggs’) will offer limited availability for select (mainstays probably) beers.

    I’ve often reminded folks to “never say ‘never’ – and – always be cautious of saying ‘always’ because you’ll almost never, always be right.”

    Promulgating the specious notion that cans (‘little kegs’ as Livingston of Baxter Brewing of ME reminds us) are somehow ‘beneath’ (anyone’s) craft beer, while adding layers of procedure and machination by caging and corking beers so as to more closely emulate oenophiles is, to me, ‘wrong-headed’, off centered, yes but still missing the point which is…

    working to convert the 94% market share MEGABEERCO swill-drinkers to ‘craft’, one pint at a time by actually trying the beers, not by focusing on packaging to make the case.

    Our intention is to feature 500ml cans & 4-packs [a pint at a time] that we’ll produce for all our coalition members (along with growlers, of course) and we expect that will do more for ‘growing’ and elevating craft beer in America than all the caged and corked 750ml dark green glass in the world.

    Plate those ‘green eggs’, you ‘never’ know.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Hoperatives - The Great Bottle/Can Debate - July 26, 2012

    […] Of course, there are still plenty of glass lovers out there too.  Bottle boosters claim that cans give beer a "metallic taste", and not every brewer is jumping up to join the canning cabal.  Dogfish Head, for one, apparently thinks that canning runs counter to their mission to "elevate beer". […]

  2. Hoperatives - The Great Bottle/Can Debate - July 26, 2012

    […] Of course, there are still plenty of glass lovers out there too.  Bottle boosters claim that cans give beer a "metallic taste", and not every brewer is jumping up to join the canning cabal.  Dogfish Head, for one, apparently thinks that canning runs counter to their mission to "elevate beer". […]

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