The Biggest Mistake People Make When Drinking Beer, According To Dogfish Head Brewer - Exclusive

To be sure, the biggest mistake a person can make drinking beer is to drink way too much of it, especially if said intoxication leads to irresponsible behavior behind the wheel, getting into an altercation, or (more mildly) in the form of drunk dialing or texting. But that's not the kind of beer drinking mistake Dogfish Head Brewery co-founder Sam Calagione had in mind when he spoke exclusively to Mashed during a recent interview

The craft brew Renaissance Man instead focused on how many would-be beer drinkers fail to find a beer style they really love because they're drinking the given style all wrong.

"I think the biggest mistake beer drinkers make is [a result of what] the world's biggest breweries for the last 50 years have been telling people," Calagione said. "They are advertising ice cold beer as the best way to drink your beer, but when you have something that is ice cold, it is essentially freezing your taste buds and numbing them and you are not getting the full sensory experience. So, in general, I think Americans drink their beer too cold. Now, there are some styles that I would recognize as outliers that are truly best on the colder side. I think of things like pilsner as one of those styles, a really nice cold, crisp pilsner. Or lower ABV session or low-cal IPAs are really nice colder. Whereas bigger beers like [Dogfish Head] 90-Minute IPA, or stouts and porters, I tend to think are better closer to cellar temp than they are ice cold."

A beer style many Americans misunderstand

While Calagione is of course a huge fan of big, bold beers — no surprise, given how many of them his own brewery creates — he wishes there was more understanding of and appreciation for some of the age-old beer styles as well.

"I would certainly put at the top of that [underappreciated] list the pilsner style," Calagione said. "And it is interesting that of the 8,000 craft [brewers] in the country, I would say 7,700 of them focus on the ales instead of lagers. Sam Adams is the largest of the — and Yuengling — of the American lager breweries. But pilsner is a lager style that is light, it's refreshing and it is hoppy, kind of like an IPA, but it is from the lager side of the beer family. And lagers tend to be more like white wine and ales tend to be more like red wine. So, lagers would be more mellow and more refined like a pilsner, than [they are like] an IPA which is going to be more complex and aggressive. So, I think pilsners are ripe for a renaissance. And then I do think sour beers, fruity sour beers [are underappreciated]. Again, because I feel that they can appeal to cocktail lovers [and] wine lovers as much as they appeal to beer lovers."

What advice does brewer Sam Calagione offer those looking to get into craft beer?

So how to get yourself out of that lager rut and try something new? "I would say there are styles that are more graceful," says Calagione. "[Take] baby steps out, first baby steps out onto what I would call the flavor bridge ... If you're going to take a step away from light lager terra firma, I think the most approachable craft beer style to take that first step with are lower ABV IPAs, like our Slightly Mighty, like your 60-Minute at 6%, or other craft beers. Session IPAs. Or wheat beers. Be it the German Hefeweizen style, the Belgian style white beers that have some nice fruitiness to them, with the addition of orange and coriander."

If you'd like to learn more about all the brews Dogfish Head has to offer, be sure to check out their website and stay tuned for more exciting news coming soon.