I am a lover of big, strong, tasty brews so it shouldn’t surprise anyone that I rank Dogfish Head Brewing Company among my favorites. I like most every product produced by this company and when I found out that brewer and entrepreneur Sam Calagione wrote a book about his brewing operation and path to success, I was anxious to read it to see if Calagione had any interesting tips on the business of brewing. 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 at his Dogfish Head Brewing Company, and his penchant for the unusual has proven to be a great success and serving as 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 at length about his own business model and how his method of management 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.
One small disappointment with this book is that it’s a business guide more than anything else. I have nothing against business guides and I certainly applaud anyone who wants to startup a new brewery. However, I was hoping to find out more about the man behind Dogfish Head Shelter Pale Ale and Chicory Stout and not just a book about starting and running a company. Calagione does share a few personal moments from his past, like his expulsion from private school; his passion for beer; the role his wife has played in his success; etc. But other than this, the book is more about business than anything else.
Brewing up a Business, in spite of its less than perfect writing and content is, overall, a good book for the budding entrepreneur and for beer geeks of all stripes and colors. Sam Calagione writes fairly well and he offers up a good deal of humor to keep the book from getting too serious. He has achieved a great deal of success with his Dogfish Head Brewing Company and he wants to share this success with small business owners everywhere. With the right passion, innovation, and drive, a small company can achieve greatness and Sam Calagione is a tribute to this fact.
Rating: 7 Cheers out of 10