Brew Masters – Thoughts from the Next Morning

Brew Masters Reality TV Show on Discovery Channel

Last night I watched the premiere of Brew Masters on the Discovery Channel. The beer world had been buzzing with excitement about the show for quite a while and although I was quite keen on the idea of a whole television series dedicated to craft beer, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. All I really knew was that the show was about Sam Calagione, the founder of Dogfish Head Brewery. Now I’ve seen the movie Beer Wars, I’ve read Sam’s book "Brewing Up a Business: Adventures in Entrepreneurship" and I follow Dogfish Head pretty closely. As weird as it may sound, I kind of felt like I already knew the guy.

The show last night just reaffirmed my belief that Sam and I would get along swimmingly. He’s a funny, personable, really cool guy who is beyond passionate about what he does. I wasn’t sure what to expect execution-wise but I thought that it was nicely done, in true Discovery Channel fashion. It was nice to take a sneak-peak into brewery operations and the storyline was interesting.

I thought the first episode did a great job of catering to beer nerds and novices alike. You didn’t have to know a ton about beer to understand and appreciate the show but at the same time, if you DO know a thing or two about beer and brewing you weren’t bored. It’s a nice balance of education and entertainment.

Dogfish Head Bitches Brew

They focused on Bitches Brew, a beer that came about thanks to collaboration with Sony Music. The beer was part of a 40th Anniversary tribute to the legendary Miles Davis record. I wasn’t too familiar with the Ethiopian ingredients they used and I enjoyed the history and creative thinking that went into coming up with the recipe. They also focused on a bottling machine issue and I was glad to see them present some of the everyday challenges involved in brewery operations. It was actually pretty refreshing to watch their poor packaging guys inspecting cases of bottles, looking for a missing metal piece. It showed a completely unglamorous part of the business and it gave the brewery a more down-to-earth kind of appeal. You don’t always think of the challenges and it’s nice to see ordinary people making an extraordinary product, despite them. It really helps you connect to the brand.

I was worried it might be a big commercial for the brewery but that wasn’t the case at all. If you missed it, I suggest checking it out on iTunes or tuning in to the Discovery Channel tonight – it airs again at 8:00 EST.

If you’ve already watched, feel free to comment and let me know what you thought!



  • Peter November 23, 2010 @ 10:57am

    “I was worried it might be a big commercial for the brewery but that wasn’t the case at all.” Liz, I beg to differ. That’s like saying Sarah Palin’s Alaska is not propaganda for her upcoming 2012 presidential run. The Brewmasters was an hour long infomercial promoting the company and the Dogfish Head line of products. Liz, I would call it a marketing person’s like your self’s dream. We could only be so lucky to get such a positive show made about KegWorks, and let’s not kid ourselves, the powers that be would not let a show that was negative air.

    Sam Calagione blatantly plugged the brewery and several Dog Fish Head brands. I watched I with a friend who is not beer guy and his main comment was this show makes me want to go buy Dogfish Head beer and it seems like really great place to work. Congratulations and mission accomplished Dogfish Head! You can’t buy press that good and Sam Calagione probably even got paid to make the show. To that I say good for Sam and great for Dogfish Head on a marketing job well done. Sam Calagione is a great brewer, but he might be an even better marketer. A major focus of the episode was about co-branding a product with Sony and tying their beer into the Miles Davis legacy. I think marketing types call that synergy.

    Brewmaster’s did a great job promoting a great brand of delicious beers I regularly enjoy. I think it did an even better job of promoting the craft brew industry, and what distinguishes it from the macro breweries most American’s drink. I liked the show, found it very engaging and will continue to watch it. I encourage other people to watch it too, but keep in mind this show like all reality shows about a business is as much marketing as it is entertainment.

  • Liz November 23, 2010 @ 11:21am

    Pete, I agree with you all the way – if we were lucky enough to get a television show about KegWorks we’d obviously plug our brand and our products and showcase the good things we’ve got going on. Why wouldn’t you take that opportunity?

    I’m not saying it wasn’t a promotional piece, I’m just saying it was also interesting, informative and there was a storyline to supplement the “Dogfish Head is awesome” part.

    Plus, I’m ok with the “Dogfish Head is awesome” because I thought Dogfish Head was awesome before the show.

    They DO have great beer and I’m sure that it IS a great place to work. They’re a cool company and they’re passionate about what they’re doing/brewing. They’ve done a lot for the craft beer industry in this country and this show will only help them expand their reach and convince more people to try new beers. With that end result in mind, I say “market on, Sam.” 🙂

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