Dogfish’s Calagione savors Beard Award experience

Recognition shows growing significance of craft breweries
May 11, 2011

Dogfish Head founder Sam Calagione says being a finalist for the culinary industry's highest honor, a James Beard Foundation Award, is an experience to be savored.

“It made me very proud to be in the culinary industry. All the nominees and winners passion and creativity shined through and impressed me. Especially the chef (José Andrés, winner for Outstanding Chef) who won from Minibar in DC. As an immigrant who started with nothing his gratitude for the entrepreneurial opportunity our country provides was refreshing to hear,” Calagione said.

Calagione was a finalist in the Outstanding Wine and Spirits Professional category. The award went to Julian Van Winkle III of Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery in Louisville, Ky.

Of the May 9 awards ceremony in New York City, Calagione said, “It was great fun and Mariah and I ate some amazing food from top chefs around the country.”

He said the best part of the experience was the recognition craft brewers are getting from the restaurant world. Calagione was the only brewer to be nominated in the Outstanding Wine and Spirits Professional category. Old Rip Van Winkle is a distillery and the other three nominees were wineries.

“There's only ever been one other brewer as JB finalist, so it's cool to see that craft brewing is finally being recognized in the world of high-end dining,” Calagione said, before joking, “It would be even cooler though if they updated the name of the category to Outstanding Wine, BEER, and Spirits.”

So could we see Dogfish Head, known for its creative concoctions and collaborations with other wine and spirits professionals, collaborate with any of its Beard Award competition?

“Not at this time, but never say never,” Calagione said.

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