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Dogfish Head Pull Out Of Four States: Goes All Oskar Bluesy…

Well it has happened again.  A major force in the craft beer movement has to pull out of states because demand is too high.  It happened to me personally when Oskar Blues announced last year their withdrawal from Idaho, and it has happened again today with Dogfish Head announcing they are pulling out of four states.  So who is the loser in the Dogfish Head withdrawal?  Well not me, and for that I’m thankful.  However, I never got any Dogfish Head in the first place since they were never here.

No the losers in todays announcement are the residents of Wisconsin, Indiana, Tennessee, and Rhode Island.  Click Here to read their official announcement.  Say goodbye to the 60, and the 90, and the 120, and all the other off centered Ales.  Guess there just weren’t enough off centered people there!  Actually the opposite is probably true.  See they were so far behind on production that they needed to pull out of states that sold a lot of their product so that they could have enough to reallocate to other stronger markets.  This is so much musical chairs, but in the end it affects real beer drinkers.  So that is sad.

The one’s I feel most sorry for are the good people of Rhode Island.  See they share a lot of commonalities with Idaho regarding this withdrawal.  They are a small state like Idaho, they were part of the original distribution of the beer like Idaho, they helped put the brewery on the map like Idaho, and they are getting slapped in the face from the Brewery just like Idaho did by Oskar Blues.

The craft beer movement is proceeding at a breakneck pace.  It is going so fast that breweries cannot keep pace with demand.  This is a problem and an opportunity.  It is a problem for beer drinkers.  We can’t get some of our favorite brews.  But it is an opportunity for smaller breweries to come in and pick up the slack.  Since I found Laughing Dog and Grand Teton, I have hardly missed Oskar Blues.  So, goodbye Dogfish Head, and hello New Glarus, and Central Waters, and Sun King…

-Don

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58 Comments on “Dogfish Head Pull Out Of Four States: Goes All Oskar Bluesy…”

  1. March 11, 2011 at 3:25 pm #

    The difference between RI and Idaho is that you only have to drive 20 minutes or so in Rhode Island before you hit a border where they sell different beers.

    • Jake
      March 11, 2011 at 7:59 pm #

      Very true. I live in Mass and used to run down to RI when Sam Adams first tested their light beer there. There was definitely a novelty aspect to it, feeling like the first to get it… took me a few times to realize I didn’t actually like the beer. My RI neighbors will be OK.

      • Don
        March 14, 2011 at 9:17 am #

        I forget about the proximity of geography on the east coast. When Oskar Blues pulled out of Idaho the nearest retailer of the brew is over 500 miles away!

  2. March 11, 2011 at 3:25 pm #

    BTW, this shows just how much demand Brew Masters created for their beer. The show might be gone, but the benefits linger for Dogfish Head.

    • Don
      March 11, 2011 at 3:26 pm #

      If you can consider this beneficial. Their web site made this sound like a huge pain in the ass.

  3. Carmen
    March 11, 2011 at 3:26 pm #

    It’s a delicate balancing act. Keeping up with demand in an unstable economy means exposing yourself to a lot of risk if things change or tank…and it also means you might have to compromise on quality, and then risk the perception of your brand taking a serious hit, and thus not being able to sell your new-found capacity. Growing quickly while keeping everything top-notch in something as finicky as craft brewing is no easy task.

    • Don
      March 11, 2011 at 3:31 pm #

      Agreed! It is a tough balancing act. One I wish they would master so we could all get a taste of their great beers! Hopefully my earlier post today will help them with their growing pains.

  4. March 11, 2011 at 3:35 pm #

    Actually, Don. You used to be able to get Dogfish Head psuedo-legitimately in Idaho. A couple years back when Rick first opened Brewforia at the old location by the mall, he was able to drive cases Dogfish Head beers down from the Spokane distributor up north. But the kibosh got put on that for some reason.

    • Don
      March 11, 2011 at 3:38 pm #

      Funny thing was Chad, I didn’t find Brewforia until after that happened. Like a couple of weeks before I found them, so I really wasn’t affected other than seeing the empty Fort cases and wishing they were still available. 😦

  5. March 11, 2011 at 3:39 pm #

    Probably wouldn’t be saying this if I lived in one of those states, but I’d rather see this than a sacrifice in quality in order to grow quantity.

    • Don
      March 11, 2011 at 3:47 pm #

      What ends up sucking royally is for the people that love their beers and now they won’t get them for a long time. It still pisses me off when I think about Oskar Blues, and I assume a lot of people will feel the same now about Dogfish Head. Victims of their own success, or poor business planners? You never see Ford turning people away for new cars.

      • Alex
        March 11, 2011 at 4:50 pm #

        Ford also has the luxury of getting the US government to bail them out in case they over-extend themselves (like GM). I doubt Dogfish Head enjoys that kind of status.

        • Don
          March 11, 2011 at 4:53 pm #

          Now, Alex don’t go hating on the big 3. Also they did not participate in any bail out. And lets be clear, I’m not talking about over building, but simply meeting demand for your product. I think we will begin to see a lot more contract brewing in the future.

      • Alex
        March 11, 2011 at 5:12 pm #

        Just trying to rile you up, Don. I know that Ford didn’t get bailed out, but they were offered the same package as GM and Chrysler. And they get plenty of other kinds of help from Uncle Sam http://goo.gl/wxyN5 on a regular basis.

        I still think you have to have a cautious approach to growth, especially these days. Anyone else remember the boom/bust cycle for craft beer in the 90s and early oughts? How about that real estate market that, a few years ago, everyone thought would never, ever go bust?

        I’m perfectly content with how things are right now. Yes, I’d love to be able to run down to the corner store for some Dark Lord or Kate the Great, but I realize that it’s not realistic. I’ll have a Yeti instead and be grateful.

        • Don
          March 14, 2011 at 9:15 am #

          I don’t think you are grasping the issue tho Alex. People could run down to the corner and pick up Dogfish Head and now they can’t. That’s the issue, not that they have to grow slowly, etc. I agree with that, but when you start to create winners and losers you begin to erode the good will that is pervasive in the craft beer community. Its a bad deal.

  6. March 11, 2011 at 3:42 pm #

    Sam even hinted in the show about backing off on retail production of items such as the 60 and 90 minute IPAs, which are no longer on the shelves of the supermarkets by me (awesome distribution on those… they were the ONLY craft brews on the shelves, surrounded by Smithwicks and Shocktops!). Figures. Sucks for those states they had to pull out of, but its the same reason why other mid-sized breweries (Avery, for example) don’t even try to hit those areas they’re not in yet. They just can’t keep up with demand. Awesome problem to have! 😉

    • Don
      March 11, 2011 at 3:48 pm #

      I disagree. I think it is a REALLY bad problem to have. If you are frustrating your base that can’t be good…just ask the Dixie Chicks.

  7. March 11, 2011 at 4:41 pm #

    I’m cool with that. We don’t get DfH in Missouri, but I can get it in Illinois and family can bring it to me from Ohio. So, whatevs.

    BTW, we here in Missouri are more than happy tow welcome Firestone Walker, Stone, and Deschutes in the coming months.

    • Don
      March 11, 2011 at 4:45 pm #

      Someone’s being a little glib today! I’m wondering how Bud is loosing its grip on the state?

      • March 11, 2011 at 4:49 pm #

        It’s because they’re not even in the top-10 brewers in the STL area.

        • Don
          March 11, 2011 at 4:51 pm #

          They are in terms of volume!!!

      • March 11, 2011 at 4:53 pm #

        Well, more people drink water than beer, I guess. It’s a matter of quality over quantity. Schalfly/St. Louis Brewing used to have the tagline “And you thought there wasn’t any good beer in St. Louis.”

        • Don
          March 14, 2011 at 9:12 am #

          Good point. I’d love to be able to get Schafly here in Idaho.

  8. johnking82
    March 11, 2011 at 6:37 pm #

    This is good for my Louisville, KY beer economy, but bad for a beer friend who owns a well established liquor store right across the river in Indiana. It used to be I had to cross the river to get the likes of New Holland, The Bruery, Dark Horse, or Hoppin Frog…now they have to come across the river to get Dogfish Head. He isn’t too happy about it. I agree the show really amped it up…but we are still waiting for episode 6.

    • Don
      March 14, 2011 at 9:16 am #

      I say good luck on Episode 6. I think it will just fade away, a “soft closing” if you will…

  9. March 11, 2011 at 8:47 pm #

    Nooooooooooooooooooo! Who cared about Idaho before (tongue-in-cheek). Now it’s personal. Indiana? Indiana?…INDIANA? Absurd.

    • Don
      March 14, 2011 at 9:19 am #

      Yeah, Mike its rough. Some people are going to be very inconvenienced by this decision.

  10. Michael Wisinski
    March 11, 2011 at 10:12 pm #

    We haven’t lost Dogfish Head, but we cannot put the 90 minute on the shelves due to a small numbers arriving to Northwestern PA. The craft beer market has blown up so fast in the past few years, that it is understandable why we don’t always have a full inventory. We are wholesalers of Southern Tier (which has never had a TV show), but cannot keep all product available at all times, despite being only 40 miles away from the brewery. So your favorite beer may not be on store shelves right now, but there are so many other awesome beers out there…give em a try.

    • Don
      March 14, 2011 at 9:22 am #

      I agree Mike, I never would have found great local alternatives had Oskar Blues not pulled out of Idaho, and that is my bad. I think people should expand their beer buying horizons and try some of the other more readily available brews. But, a big problem is that Dogfish Head really is special and it isn’t like there is a readily available replacement for Theobroma.

  11. March 12, 2011 at 12:42 am #

    No one will ever pulls beer out of Jersey. We rock. A lot of residents seem to leave, but the beer stays.

    • Greg K.
      March 13, 2011 at 11:01 am #

      We lost Captain Lawrence a few months ago, and now Ballast Point is pulling out

      • Don
        March 14, 2011 at 9:57 am #

        Looks like Jersey does have its share of breweries pulling out, but it isn’t like you could just pop across the border to NY and get whatever you want.

    • Don
      March 14, 2011 at 9:23 am #

      The beer stays because a lot of residents stay too Scott. You are fortunate to live in a very well stocked state!

  12. March 12, 2011 at 7:02 am #

    Not too happy because I live in one of the states that will loose Dogfish. I have purchased many thru the years but no more for me. The dist here will land another beer or two and we will be fine drinking great craft beer. I know when I see Sam in Denver later this year, I will let him know how happy I am with his stupid decision.

    • Don
      March 14, 2011 at 9:50 am #

      Tough deal Mike. Perhaps you can give Sam a piece of your mind and mine too. I think it is bad business to contract markets. It just leaves a bad taste in everyone’s mouth…kinda like 120.

  13. Stephen
    March 12, 2011 at 10:15 pm #

    Granted I live in a state that wasn’t affected by this and possibly that has an effect on my feelings toward this, but it is good to see that they have too much demand rather then too little. This only shows that people may be straying away from the ho-hum run of the mill beers for something a little more unique and different, which in the end will benefit all of us. I imagine that if Dogfish head continues to have such a demand that they will up production a bit and it will only be a matter of time before they start selling beer in those states again. In the meantime just try other beers. I love Dogfish Head but I only buy it every once in a while, as there as so many other unique choices that I want to try. Brewmasters is most likely the reason for this boom in sales, but overall craft beers are going to reap the benefit as a whole.

    • Don
      March 14, 2011 at 9:55 am #

      I’m sure brewmasters helped, but it seems like everyone is waiting for the other shoe to fall in craft beer. There is very little trust that the american palate is actually changing for beer, and that it could be a here today, gone tomorrow type situation. That is why there is so much hesitancy to expand to meet demand. I’m not saying they should overbuild, but for God’s sake, and all of us drinkers too, is it that dunning to build to meet present demand levels? It’s frustrating to be so far from the action, and then to see the action contracting back to the east.

  14. March 13, 2011 at 3:55 pm #

    Say it ain’t so!!! Someone hold me while I mourn

    • Don
      March 14, 2011 at 9:57 am #

      Sorry dude, *hand patting shoulder*

  15. March 13, 2011 at 5:32 pm #

    I’m sad that those people who really like DFH won’t be able to get it in those states, but I understand the realities of supply and demand. As Oskar Blues has proved, if it happens in one place it can happen anywhere. But I’ve never been a big fan of DFH beers, although I really want to like them, I admire what Sam has been doing for the Craft Beer community, especially after seeing him in Beer Wars.

    I’m freaking a little right now because the last time I went to pick up some of Ska’s Modus, they were out and didn’t know when anymore would be in, this is the first time since they hit the shelves in Denver that this has happened. Hope this isn’t a prelude of things to come as with OB and DFH in other states.

    • Don
      March 14, 2011 at 10:00 am #

      Unfortunately there seems to be this big lull we are in right now where the brewers don’t trust the market will continue to expand so they don’t build, and demand is continuing to increase and buyers feel like no one is listening to them that they need beer! It is a real lose lose.

  16. Dianne Budde
    March 14, 2011 at 9:51 am #

    We are constantly having these types of problems. Most recently with Bear Republic. The same has happened with Templetons Rye Whiskey out of Templeton, IA. We had carried it practically since we opened our Pizza/American Craft Beer Bar in 2007. You couldn’t even find it in any bar-or restaurant in our area. Then the wave hit. Now you have to be a chain to be able to get authorized to sell it to…just isn’t right. The chains didn’t make them big. I guess you are right. When we lose one line, it makes the local distributors go out and find another fine brewery. I read your posts and thank you for your insight on the industry and the products. Keep them coming!
    Dianne Budde
    Buddes Pizza
    Galesburg, IL

    • Don
      March 14, 2011 at 10:04 am #

      Hi Dianne and welcome. It is a very frustrating thing. I feel like you do with the Oskar Blues pull out from Idaho too. We helped to build and support the brewery and now they just leave us hanging. This is a tough business because people get very attached to these drinks, and when all of a sudden they vanish it can be very difficult on the consumer. It just sucks.

  17. March 15, 2011 at 1:31 pm #

    I’ve thought long and hard about DFH and their decision to pull out of Indiana.
    As someone this DOES affect and someone who has shared some pretty defining moments in life with a DFH in hand – the first time I introduced my sister to my now husband, we split a 2006 World Wide Stout at the Herot in Muncie, IN – ringing in 2009 with 120 Minute IPA and subsequently celebrating the birth of my daughter in early September – and sitting with Mariah at the Beer Bloggers Conference discussing how she balances work/family….
    So this is personal for me. I will be sad to see DFH go. I’ll be sad that I can’t support a company I have considered one of the best. I’ll be sad for World Class Beverages and their team who distributes DFH in Indiana. However, the Indianapolis area has had 3 new breweries open shop since November alone. Add Sun King to the mix and I have more than enough options to enjoy quality craft beers brewed by great people that I can call neighbors and friends. It’s economically and environmentally friendlier for me to drink locally and although I will miss an occasional DFH 60 or 90 Minute IPA, it’s been a long time coming. Why be in a market such as Indiana that has grown by leaps and bounds and can satisfy customers when the local breweries can do it equally as well, perhaps at a lower cost, and without bad rapping.

    • Don
      March 15, 2011 at 3:11 pm #

      Tamre, I need you to get in touch with your anger…Let it fester and rage, feel that hot flash in your cheeks and really give a primal scream! Dogfish Head screwed you over. They are so fat with cash right now, they could easily expand to meet demand, but they didn’t, instead the took four states, one being yours, and cast them aside. Lagunitas can expand to meet demand, why in the hell can’t Dogfish head? Its silly and makes little sense. It is like the NFL owners saying they can’t afford health insurance for their legacy players…are you kiddin’ me? Oskar Blues did the same thing to me, and now Dogfish Head is doing it to you! Don’t let them off that easy! You deserve your Dogfish Head!!

      • March 15, 2011 at 7:13 pm #

        You should try yoga, Don. We even have Pints and Poses where we drink and do yoga. It helps with the anger management.

        Don’t get me started about the NFL – that is SUPER touchy for us right now in Indianapolis.

        • March 16, 2011 at 2:18 pm #

          I would pay serious money to see Don do yoga, Tamre – great suggestion!!

        • Don
          March 16, 2011 at 3:13 pm #

          Oh Yeah, I’m an expert at Downward Dog 😉

  18. Dave SDC
    March 16, 2011 at 2:14 pm #

    Long time reader and big follower of the blog., First time poster.

    As a New Jersey guy who ISN’T affected by the DFH pullout, I have to say it just give those craft beer drinkers of those 4 states an invitation to try something different. You know what they say, “variety is the spice of life” and “there are other fish in the sea” (pun intended, and totally corny) I rarely buy the same craft beer as I love to try something new each time I am out at a bar or at a liquor store. (Truth be told there always is fresh 22oz Ommegang’s in the fridge just in case)

    But I do see why the wrath is coming down on DFH. I would be FUMING if: #1 my beer of choice was being pulled from my market, and #2 I didn’t have ANY clue on when it was coming back again. What I really didn’t understand was this. How could you have a TV show on a major cable network and not expect consumers who watch your show to go out and purchase your product? It really does show a lack of long term vision for the company.

    • March 16, 2011 at 2:20 pm #

      I think you’ve nailed it Dave – there are other fish in the sea, and there are plenty of other breweries to explore.

      That said, DFH is a bit unique in the way they swing for the fences and create some pretty weird and wonderful brews. While a 60 Minute IPA might be easy to replace, Theobroma is tougher (although New Holland’s El Mole Ocho is a pretty decent substitute).

      • Dave SDC
        March 16, 2011 at 2:26 pm #

        Agreed, Midas Touch is one of my personal favorites from DFH. I think there will be a fallout/uproar, but all in all, people in those 4 states will move and find another beer/brewer to fall in love with all over again.

        By no means does it take the sting away, as cliche as it sounds, This feels like one of those HORRIBLE breakups from when we were in High School.

    • Don
      March 16, 2011 at 3:19 pm #

      Dave, You have hit upon all aspects of the frustration with the pull out. First yes it is good to experiment, and people should be totally open to new beers. However these people (like me) have been forced to have a wandering eye through no fault of their own. Imagine if you and your wife had a great relationship. perfect marriage, loving family, everything was great in the sack, and then one day your wife says she is leaving for no reason. That is kind of how these people must feel. I know, the analogy is a little over the top, but you get it. I think Dogfish Head, like Oskar Blues before them has really stepped in it, and consumers will resent them for a long time. Imagine if they had said that they will do all in their power to get product out to their distributors, but there may be short term shortages while they worked to remedy the situation. How much better would that have been for everyone! I think brewers make bad business men on the whole and this just exemplifies that.

      Oh, and by the way thanks for chiming in. Hope you keep doing so.

      • Dave SDC
        March 16, 2011 at 3:49 pm #

        Don, when you put it that way I definitely see where they (and you) are coming from. I also think that if they “spun it” the way you stated there wouldn’t be as much of an uproar to start, but then again people would start to wonder down the line where there favorite beer was and why it was taking so long to up production/demand. It really is 6 in one hand and a half a dozen in the other. People want to spend the money on your product, but you don’t have the capital to put said product out as much as you would like. Or maybe they do and they are just being really stingy. A LOT of companies are still trying to dig out from that past couple years of craptastic economic data. But then again, maybe its just a cop out. Who knows! Geez I need a beer! Is it 5 o’clock yet?

        oh and btw, I will definitely throw my hat into the ring more often when it comes to chatting! Cheers!

        • Don
          March 16, 2011 at 4:05 pm #

          Glad to hear it Dave. WE need all the hats we can muster! I think they should have looked more into contract brewing for their regular stuff like the 60 and the 90. That could have freed up capacity in the main brewery for other one off stuff, or some of their bigger brews like Fort, or Burton Baton, or Theobroma. There are lots of ways to skin the cat, but they just don’t think like businessmen. They want to have absolute control and when you get big like they are that control comes at a huge cost.

  19. March 16, 2011 at 2:38 pm #

    This is all a lot of whining about nothing. First of all, Dogfish Head is not the only maker of fine craft beer. Secondly, if you really want some, you can get it. Just travel across the border, mail order, or trade for your favorite DfH. Like I said earlier, I either go to Illinois or I have my family pick me up some when I need a fix. Otherwise, I make due with all the other great craft beers out there.

    • Don
      March 16, 2011 at 3:26 pm #

      Sounds like you have dependable and reliable family members Zac. I still have Jim’s Christmas Present in my Garage, and he still has some ’09 Founder’s Nemesis that he picked up specifically for me in 2009! No, the best way to get brews is to go to you local bottle shop and pick them out. If they aren’t there they don’t exist. So now for a lot of people Dogfish Head doesn’t exist.

      • March 16, 2011 at 3:34 pm #

        Meh. I’ll remember that the next time I taste the sweet nectar that comes from Dogfish Head and do a toast in your general direction.

        • Don
          March 16, 2011 at 3:38 pm #

          Thanks for that Zac…thanks.

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