The Huffington Post’s Games Changers event last night at Skylight Studios recognized the 100 people they believe are changing the way we live, from entertainment to sports to business to tech to the culinary world. But the term could also accurately describe the state of honoree and Dogfish Head Beer founder Sam Calagione’s new project: The highly anticipated rooftop pub at Eataly. It was scheduled to open next month, but when we caught up with the handsome and amiable brewer, he delivered some bad news.
“We’re a little bit late on that project,” said Calagione of his partnership with Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich. “Eataly is doing fantastic, crazy busy downstairs, but the amount of work that they had to do upstairs to get the brewpub open was unforeseen, so now we’re hoping for March 5.”
The delay stems from figuring out the logistics of lifting the copper-clad brewing system to the rooftop via a crane and building the retractable roof.
Calagione insists the wait will be worth it. “What we’re trying to do is marry the world of artisanal craft brewing with the traditional Italian beers that have never existed in America, using indigenous Italian ingredients like chestnuts and thyme that grows on the mountains in Rome. And every beer we make up there is going to be cask-conditioned, naturally carbonated. So I think we’ll be the only company in America that makes cask beer on site.”
Despite the pub’s springtime opening, the TV-ready Calagione, 41, will still be busy next month. His new show, Brew Masters, is debuting November 21 on the Discovery Channel. It will blend the science of making beer with the ultimate around-the-world road trip in search of ancient brewing techniques.
“They filmed [what’s] going on in our brewery, watching how a bottling line works and how a QC lab isolates amazing yeast strains, so it has a wonderful technical component, but also a beautiful historic one,” explained Calagione. “We get to show that other than prostitution, brewing is the oldest vocation in the world. We vet these hieroglyphs on the walls in Egypt and in Peru and New Zealand, and we bring it home and develop beers from it.”
One of his favorite moments from filming happened when he was walking down the streets of Rome with a local brewer. “We had snuck beers out of a good beer bar,” recalls Calagione, “and he was like, ‘This neighborhood used to be full of prostitutes and prisoners.’ And I’m like, ‘In the eighties?’ And he’s like, ‘No, in the 1400s.’”