Like most of the times I’ve found myself drinking with Sam Calagione, the founder, president and jovial personality behind Dogfish Head beer, the details end up a bit hazy. But at some point earlier this year, hanging out on the bar atop NYC’s Eataly, the conversation turned to canned beers – probably because it’s one of my favorite beer topics. During that relatively recent chat, I distinctly remember Calagione telling me that Dogfish Head would never can its beers. To be honest, though I remember him giving an explanation, I don’t specifically remember what it was – I was definitely a few Dogfish Head beers deep at the time. Still, I remember being surprised: Canning, after all, has been one of the hottest trends in craft beer – an industry with no shortfall in trends.
Well, hell has frozen over in a long list of ways this past week, and now we can add Dogfish Head cans to it. On Monday, the Delaware-based brewery announced that after 21 years, cans would finally be comin’ – starting first with the brewery’s signature 60-Minute IPA available immediately throughout the Mid-Atlantic before hitting the rest of the brewer’s 30-state-plus-DC distribution network early next year. At that point, the fruit-accentuated Flesh & Blood IPA and quaffable sour SeaQuench Ale will also hit the aluminum.
In Dogfish Head’s announcement, Calagione openly addresses his previous apprehension towards cans. “Early on in the craft brewing renaissance I was underwhelmed with the canning technology for craft beer,” he said. “But times have changed, equipment has evolved, and we’ve designed a beautiful, state-of-the-art Krones can line that delivers the quality and consistency our consumers have come to expect from our beer.” Continuing with that inherent can skepticism, the press release also emphasizes that Dogfish Head has gone out of its way to source “advanced metal packaging from Ball, a state of the art can manufacturer, to guarantee there is no metallic off-flavoring in the beer due to a special liner found in all Dogfish cans.”
As a personal fan of cans, I’m glad to see Calagione and Dogfish Head have had a change of heart. I reached out to Sam to see if he’d be willing to elaborate on how his feeling about cans have changed so rapidly, but I have yet to hear back as of writing. He’s may be out drinking with some other writer.