A Star is Born: Sam Calagione

This was originally shown at the Alamo Draft House in April 2008 as part of the Dogfish Head Off-Centered Film Festival.

It’s about fucking time. BREW MASTERS starring Sam Calagione starts tonight on Discovery Channel.

I first met Sam at the Great American Beer Festival in September of 2005. I told him then that he was going to be a star. He seemed embarrassed. But it was easy to see from our very first interview that here was a guy who was the real deal and a natural in front of the camera.

I got to know Sam over the 3 years it took to make the film. He allowed my crew into his home, his business, and into his head. I shot over 35 hours of footage with him in multiple locations across the country. And the rule of thumb worked – about one minute per hour made it into the film. There are so many gems that didn’t fit into the bigger story. Someday I hope to open the “vault” and share.

And Sam has been very gracious since the film came out. He showed up on premiere night in Los Angeles to be with a panel of his peers and at film festivals since then to help promote the film.

And yet he gets flak from “beer geeks” for being overexposed. Seriously, it’s time to stop. Yes, he’s a rock star. Celebrate it. He’s the guy Discovery picked to be the face of BREW MASTERS. And since it’s a positive message he’s espousing, he’s having no problem getting media attention. And that can only help craft beer.

I hope the show does well. I hope Discovery gives the wider TV audience a chance to well, discover it. I haven’t seen any episodes yet but since the show’s producers are also behind Anthony Bourdain’s NO RESERVATIONS, I think it’s safe to go in with high expectations.

So break a leg Sam. I hope you remember me when…

Tags: , , , , , ,

7 Responses to “A Star is Born: Sam Calagione”

  1. Adam says:

    #1 choice for a brewery to work for!

  2. David says:

    Its not that Sam is overexposed, but that he comes off as a serious narcissit. We all know he is a very talented brewer and heavily respected in the community for his ability to push the limits of beer, but “The Painkillers” pretty much portrays him as someone who will do anything for attention,

    Sam comes off on the show as someone who thinks of himself as much more than just a craft brewer, but deserving of national attention for nothing more than his good looks. Resorting to tight t-shirts and gimmicks to get people interested in craft beer make us no better than the tactics taken by big brewers in the past.

  3. Patrick says:

    David – Have you ever met Sam or anyone who knows Sam? Or do you jump to these ridiculous conclusions simply out of an amazing unknown sixth sense?

  4. 3five says:

    Ah… the old “sell out” spiel begins! How predictable.

    I first became aware of Sam (as a personality anyway) through the movie and thought “Wow, this guy is going to blow up”.

    About a year later I was visiting a friend (and true craftsman) who built his own timber frame/straw brewery by hand here in the midwest. This guy is dedicated to craft but he is also very very small and very very quiet about the operation. Over one of his test batches he mentioned that Sam took the time to speak with him one-on-one only a few months ago (and pretty much gave him free consulting).

    That fact kind of sealed the deal for me that Sam is probably the best one to represent the industry to the masses. Unfortunately the world runs on marketing and good looks. That doesn’t, however, mean that they deserve to be attacked for their success.

    Anyway, all I have to go on are his actions as told by a trusted and honorable friend, but it appears that Sam still has a heart and is willing to help the little guy- in fact he goes out of way do do just that.

    Could you ask for a better spokesman? Maybe, but as long as Sam remains “hot” in the eyes of a still very ignorant general public, armchair beer fans would be hard pressed to find another more popular and yet still dedicated ambassador to the community from which he was born.

    Then again, what do I know. I’m a web designer, not a brewer and still drink Stella on occasion 😉 Booo…

  5. Ashley says:

    In Beer Wars, Sam came across and genuinely passionate about brewing and hell, the man does brew damn good beer. He seemed confident in his product (which any GOOD businessman should) and appears excited when talking about it. Anyone that labels that arrogance probably does so because they’re wishing they had such a cool job.

  6. Will says:

    Any criticism of Sam is unwarranted. He is a true advocate for Craft Beer and it’s culture. I believe everything he’s doing is to further the cause and not be made a “beer celeb.” I personally can’t stand most of what Dogfish Head brews, but support him in the rest of his endeavors.

  7. Jolie M says:

    My beef with Sam is that his show was contrived. The series seemed to have little to do with beer and brewing and focused on how the brewers were such quirky, hip people. I want to hear about the BEER, and not in the form of some lame-ass white boy rap. Goodbye, Dogfishead – I’ll stick with my San Diego micros.

Oenophiles have SIDEWAYS and BOTTLE SHOCK; now their beer-loving counterparts can claim a film as their own.
- Rotten Tomatoes
A David and Goliath story pitting the country's smallest brewers against the largest.
Beer Wars: Brewed in America, is an eye-opening, funny and righteously infuriating documentary by first-time filmmaker Anat Baron. Her film (think of it as Suds: A Love Story) is also a pretty damning indictment of not just the beer industry but contemporary unfettered unregulated capitalism's disturbing excesses.
- Box Office Magazine
In Beer Wars, entrepreneurialism and opportunity go awry when tainted by greed and a thirst for power.
- Los Angeles Times
Beer Wars certainly raises some interesting questions, the most potent of which is, is this what capitalism is meant to be?
- New Times
For those who are keeping the American dream alive, this spirited documentary raises a toast.
- St Louis Post-Dispatch
A trenchant analysis unapologetic in its rebuke of Big Beer, Beer Wars is heartily recommended for patrons already inclined to opt for the local brew at every tap. It will also appeal to patrons interested in craft foods as well as homebrewed beer and wine and others particular about quality.
- Library Journal