Fordham Brewing Co. looking to expand in DE

Found this article today in the News Journal.

Brewer expects deal to lift sales
Regional firm joins venture with giant Anheuser-Busch

DOVER — If you’re a craft brewer, it’s not enough to just make good beer. The tough part is finding a good way to get that beer into people’s hands.

For one regional brand that brews its product in Dover, the answer to the small “craft” brewer’s perennial distribution challenge was found by turning to the big guys for help.

Annapolis-based Fordham Brewing Co. is hoping that a joint venture with Anheuser-Busch will help it grow far beyond the regional market, eventually bringing increased production and employment to its Dover brewery.

That prospect was enhanced this month when the joint venture — called Coastal Brewing Co. — announced it will buy Old Dominion Brewing Co., a Virginia craft brewer and brewpub operator with primary distribution in the mid-Atlantic region.

“This is good for Fordham; it’s good for Dover,” said Bill Muehlhauser, Fordham’s chief executive officer. “We expect substantial growth.”

A similar partnership between Anheuser-Busch and a brewer in Chicago raised that company’s sales 80 percent, he said.

The Dover brewery has a capacity of 20,000 barrels a year now. Fordham wants to add the equipment to raise that to 50,000 barrels soon, and has 37 acres available to expand at the Dover facility. Eventually, the facilities at both Dover and at Old Dominion will be flexible enough to brew both brands’ beers, Muehlhauser said. “That’s one of the beauties of this deal,” which took over a year to put together, he said.

Anheuser-Busch is working to expand its stake in the lucrative craft beer market segment, which has posted solid growth for the past three years. In Delaware, craft breweries such as Dogfish Head in Milton, have helped lead the nationwide expansion, and brewers such as Iron Hill and Stewart’s have earned praise from fans and trade experts.

Fordham brews such beers as Copperhead Ale, Oyster Stout, Fordham Lager and Tavern Ale. Old Dominion is known for such labels as Tuppers’ Hop Pocket Ale and Hard Times Select lager. There are now five full-time workers and several part-timers at Fordham’s Dover brewery, but more jobs are expected. “We’re really scared to speculate” how many more, Muehlhauser said. “I don’t want to get people too excited, but yes, the labor force will grow.”

Both Fordham and Old Dominion brands eventually may be available throughout the East Coast, but the next move is to strengthen existing markets, he said.

“To continue to grow and survive, you’ve gotta get your beer to market,” Muehlhauser said. “We’ve all been scrambling for years to figure out how do you do that.”

Dogfish Head getting good press

Found this article in the business section of the News Journal this morning.

Dogfish Head top dog among craft brewers
Milton operation expands to meet ever-growing demand
By ERIC RUTH, The News Journal
Posted Tuesday, March 13, 2007

In the world of beer, where “big” is huge, no place is bigger right now than little Delaware.

A growing national love affair with full-flavored, robust-natured beers — “big beers,” in industry parlance — has helped catapult Delaware’s Dogfish Head to the front of a field overrun with small, independent “craft” brewers.

Lifted by an ever-expanding distribution network now covering 27 states, Milton-based Dogfish Head saw its sales rocket up 37 percent in 2006, according to the Brewers Association, an industry group representing independent breweries. Revenues rose a whopping 51 percent.

That growth led all U.S. craft brewers, who have been riding a boom themselves for three years now, posting an 11.7 percent increase in sales last year.

“They’ve just been booming year after year, starting with the little brewpub [in Rehoboth Beach in 1995],” said Paul Gatza, director of the Brewers Association, based in Boulder, Colo. “The craft category as a whole is very hot, but Dogfish Head continues to out-index even that.”

Dogfish Head has landed at the top of that profitable heap thanks to a canny sense for drinkers’ preferences and a quirky inclination to put out offbeat, buzz-worthy brews, experts say — the new Red and White, for example, is a Belgian-style “white” beer brewed with coriander and orange peel, fermented with pinot noir juice, then aged in used Oregon pinot noir barrels.

“Our mantra has always been, ‘Off-centered ales for off-centered people.’ That’s our call to arms,” said Sam Calagione, Dogfish’s founder and owner.

“They’re always doing these beers that get people’s interest,” like the ultra-hoppy 120-minute IPA superbrew, said Jeff Bearer, who podcasts a daily show on craft beers from Pittsburgh through his Web site CraftBeerRadio .com. “The other part is their availability. They have a wide distribution area.”

Such complexly crafted beers are gaining a customer base that goes beyond serious beer aficionados, industry experts say. Increasingly, Delaware is gaining a craft-beer prominence that goes beyond Dogfish Head, Gatza said. “Iron Hill restaurant group is very well-respected around the country,” he said. “Stewart’s [Brewing Company, in Bear] is well-known and has won awards in the past,” and the relatively new Twin Lakes Brewing Company in Greenville is grabbing attention.

For Dogfish Head, the rising prominence is especially rewarding because of how little it has to do with glitzy promotions. The company devotes less than 2 percent of revenue toward marketing, and doesn’t advertise in mass media or on television, Calagione said.

“Our beers are our billboard. Let them market themselves,” said Calagione, who is nonetheless regarded as something of a promotional campaign himself.

“Dogfish Head has some aura around it, partly because of Sam Calagione,” Bearer said. “He’s like a rock star in the craft beer world.”

On Web sites such as, where such “auras” can be punctured by a few well-placed jabs, even the connoisseurs acknowledge that Dogfish Head’s prominence is no marketing trick. The company’s World Wide Stout is rated as the 11th-best beer in the world, and it’s No. 1 among all East Coast brewers.

For some “big beer” snobs, there is always the fear that a beloved brand will get too big for its own good, jacking up production to meet demand, and letting standards slip in the process. Dogfish Head’s Milton brewery just went from 30,000 to 103,000 square feet, giving it a capacity of 220,000 barrels a year instead of 45,000.

The boosted capacity feeds a growing business — six Dogfish Head Ale Houses are planned for the mid-Atlantic over the next six years. Starting this month, the company expanded distribution to Georgia, giving it a reach from Washington state to the Deep South.

Calagione insists that quality will remain a priority through the growth, and beer fans like Bearer agree.

“There’s no way you can say they’ve sold out,” he said. “They’re definitely not sacrificing their formula for profits.”

17th Annual Beer Tasting with Michael Jackson : Extreme Beer Tasting

This is TOMORROW! Don’t know why I hadn’t heard of this earlier! But, if you’re interested in going, you had better call now to see if there are any tickets available!

Sat March 10
1:00 pm

michaeljackson.jpgIn recent years brewers have focused on various tastes, components, and alcohol levels and created “extreme” beers. What makes a beer extreme? Join world renowned beer expert Michael Jackson as he explores this theme. Following the tutored tasting, enjoy dozens of additional beers from around the world accompanied by food by Museum Catering Company. Guests must be at least 21 years old to attend. Three seatings are offered. Advance reservations required. $45 non-members; $40 members. Tickets on sale now at the Annenberg Center Box Office online: or call 215/898-3900.

2007 National Homebrew Conference in Denver


Just received the following in my email.

Wouldn’t it be fun to take a road trip to Colorado in June!?


My name is Dennis Frank. I am a member of Hop Barley and the Alers, a home brew club in Boulder, Colorado. Kathy Thompson and I are the coordinators for the Hospitality Suite for the upcoming 2007 National Homebrew Conference (NHC). It will be hosted in Denver this year in June on the 21, 22 & 23! There is still time to brew beers for the Conference/Hospitality Suite so please talk this up at your club meeting and let us know if your interested.

We are looking for clubs who would like to work a shift in the Hospitality Suite. This would require your club to bring beer to the conference and serve it during a 1 1/2 to 2 hour shift. This is a chance for you and your club to show off your beer making skills to other clubs around the country.

If you and your club would like to participate, please email me with a contact/coordinator for your club.
Attached is a signup sheet if your club is interested in a shift at the hospitality suite. You can also check out the following webpage for conference information.

If you have any questions feel free to contact us.
We look forward to hearing from you soon.

Hospitality Suite Coordinators
Kathy and Dennis