Over the years, Dogfish Head has made a habit of pairing its beer with music. The Milton, Del.-based brewery has built a reputation of crafting collaborative brews with the likes of Pearl Jam, Deltron 3030 and the Grateful Dead.
And over the past six years, Dogfish Head has worked side-by-side with artists known for creating posters for musicians. Each year, artists sketch limited-edition screen prints to accompany Dogfish Head’s seasonal offerings. Dogfish Head founder and CEO Sam Calagione said the prints sell out every year.
This year, the brewery plans to feature some of that artwork on the labels of its beers, something the company has never done before.
“It’s not only interesting because it’s something different, but it’s a collectible for hardcore music and beer fans,” said Calagione.
For this year’s lineup – consisting of Aprihop, Festina Peche, Punkin Ale and Piercing Pils – the brewery has tapped Jermaine Rogers, a Brooklyn, N.Y.-based artist known for working with a number of well-known musicians including Neil Young, David Bowie and Eddie Vedder.
“He’s done a lot of really iconic work,” said Calagione, who learned about Rogers’ work from last year’s artist, Jim Mazza.
While Calagione said the love of art and music is deeply ingrained within the philosophy of the company, this partnership isn’t merely about celebrating art. Selling the prints is good, but selling more beer with the art is even better.
“[The collaboration] isn’t merely altruistic,” said Calagione. “So if somebody’s a Jermaine Rogers fan or a Radiohead fan, they’ll hopefully seek out not just the screen print of the posters but the beer itself.”
The hope is to introduce new drinkers to the brand and continue to build brand loyalty.
Calagione discussed this business strategy at Brewbound Session Winter ‘13, in which he explained that in order for a craft brewery to succeed, it must do three things: produce high quality, consistent and well-differentiated beers.
He reiterated that idea, adding that packaging “is and should be” a critical part of being different.
“The packaging should speak to the liquid within,” he said. “We’ve always prioritized having well-differentiated and art-forward packaging.”
The distinctive packaging will help Dogfish Head sell about 18 percent more of its seasonal beer in 2014, Calagione said, adding that the growth is “pretty much keeping with the trend we’ve been on for the past few years.”
All four prints, which retail for $50, will go on sale when Aprihop is released in March. Rogers’ artistic take on each seasonal brew can be seen below: