Sam Calagione, founder of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery and one of the foremost exponents of extreme beer, is now extending his reach into fashion.
Dogfish is working with Woolrich, known for its plaid, outdoorsy clothing, to make a joint product line involving—well, maybe this is something Calagione should explain: “Woolrich is a brand I’ve been wearing for decades,” he said last week while driving with his wife and children to his high school reunion. “When my dad moved out of New York City in 1970, the first thing he did upon moving to the rural Berkshires in Massachusetts was buy the classic red-and-black checkered hunting jacket from Woolrich. He’s since handed it on to me.”
Calagione was intrigued enough to pick up the autobiography of John Woolrich, who built his first textile mill in Plum Run, Pa., in 1845. The patriarch was a beermaker, too: “One passage in his autobiography talks about raising a barn and drinking so much of his own homemade spruce beer that he almost fell and broke his neck,” Calagione said.
This resonated with a man who is no stranger to spruce-infused brews. “We did a beer almost 10 years ago called Spruce Willis,” Calagione said. “So we’re pretty fearless when it comes to plucking stuff from the woods to put in our beer.” The thought of making yet another spruce beer, this time inspired by Woolrich, led Calagione to approach Josh Rich, a seventh-generation family member and the company’s executive vice president. Calagione proposed a collaboration involving products that would be, as he puts it, both “wet and dry.”
The beer would be called Pennsylvania Tuxedo, concocted with spruce tips, wheat, and rye grown on the family’s property. The Woolrich clothing line would be nautically themed. That harmonizes with the branding of Dogfish Head, which has a brewpub in Rehoboth Beach, Del., and Woolrich’s long history of making wool for the U.S. Navy.
The beer and the wearables will soon be available at the Dogfish Head Brew Pub and its soon-to-open 16-room Dogfish Inn in Lewes, Del. Calagione says he will also feature the spruce beer at a series of “outdoorsy-oriented” beer dinners in New Jersey; New York City; Block Island, R.I.; Boston; and Portland, Maine.
What does one eat with spruce beer? “It’s going to go really well with grilled dishes, simple rustic-presented grilled fish,” says Calagione. “My wife just said it goes well with salads. You know, there’s a bunch of sort of foodie, culinary chefs that are also using spruce tips in salads now.”
There won’t be a dress code. But if you want to be fashionable, you might want to arrive in the latest rustic nautical ensemble.