When Dogfish Head created a hit beer, it did what seemed crazy at the time: It turned down sales.
Sam Calagione is used to getting love in his hometown of Milton, Del. He created Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, one of America’s hottest breweries, and is a major employer in town. People wave and say hi. Out-of-towners ask to take selfies with him. So it came as a surprise when a liquor store owner ran over with tears in her eyes.
“I have customers walking into my store trying to buy your 60 Minute IPA and then yelling at me for not having it stocked,” she said. “Then they’re leaving without buying anything. I’m a local entrepreneur, you’re a local entrepreneur—can’t you help me?”
Calagione had heard this before. 60 Minute IPA was his most popular beer. It was the sort of hit craft brewers would kill for. And yet he tamped down on production. He turned down sales. And he did it for years. Many entrepreneurs would consider this unthinkable. But Calagione was thinking ahead: Rather than push one giant hit, he believed his company would be better off in the long term by pushing a diverse range of smaller products. Now, 14 years after that hit beer debuted, he can evaluate whether it paid off.
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