The J. Peterman of Beer

An absurdly enthusiastic mass of beer geek dudes practically mobbed Dogfish Head craft brewery’s Sam Calagione as he stepped into the Blind Tiger Ale House in NYC last night. For more than a half hour, the Delaware-based brewer was locked in pivot position, distributing gratis pints from the bar to his many admirers, who pumped his hand and had him pose for pictures. The Dogfish event, which featured 25 (!) of the company’s beers on tap, including some real obscure ones, was one of the most hotly anticipated events of the NY Craft Beer Week festival that kicked off last Sunday.

Calagione, a tanned, rugged guy (he once modeled in some Levi’s ads) with a bro-style friendliness, has become the de facto spokesman for the current craft brewing craze. His beers are easy to market and get excited about, in large part because of their J. Peterman-inspired marketing. Check out some of last night’s pours:

Chateau Jiahu: Developed from a recipe found in 9,000-year-old preserved pottery jars in the Neolithic village of Jiahu, China, using pre-gelatinized rice flakes, wildflower honey, Muscat grapes, hawthorn fruit, chrysanthemum flowers, and sake yeast.

Pangaea: An ale brewed with an ingredient from every single continent, including crystallized ginger from Australia, muscovado sugar from Africa, Antarctic water, Belgian yeast, and exotic grains.

Theobroma: “Based on the chemical analysis of pottery fragments found in Honduras” that contained residue of some boozy chocolate drink enjoyed by 1200 BCE partyers. Containing Aztec coca powder and nibs, honey, chiles, and annatto seeds.

Especially in a recession, there’s something great about the kind of armchair travel you can do from your barstool. Or, as Calagione proclaimed as soon as he had extricated himself from fans to stand on the bar, “The great thing about craft beer, is you can upgrade from the shittiest wine, and for the same price … try the shit from small, independent breweries!” Well said.