Dogfish Head up 17 Percent in 2013

Adam Lambert

Dogfish Head finally eclipsed the 200,000 barrel mark in 2013, a milestone that only 11 other regional brewing companies had achieved the year prior.

Led by its “family of IPA offerings” — 60-minute, 75-Minute, 90-minute, 120-minute, Sixty-One, Indian Brown Ale, Aprihop, Burton Baton and Rhizing Bines — Dogfish Head production numbers soared to 202,000 barrels, up 17 percent over last year.

It’s not the 30-plus percent growth that some other craft breweries have enjoyed in recent years, but that’s just fine for Adam Lambert, the company’s vice president of sales, who said he prefers “slow and steady growth.”

“In this day and age, with the amount of craft breweries entering the space, distributor consolidations, new SKUs, big brewers playing in craft, I think 17 percent growth is pretty incredible,” he said. “We are marching to the beat of our own growth. We want slow, methodical, profitable growth for us and our wholesalers.”

Lambert attributes Dogfish Head’s continued ability to grow in the “high-teens” to its diverse portfolio of offerings — one that included 38 different styles in 2013. Collectively, Dogfish Head’s IPA-styled beers accounted for 79 percent of production, or about 159,000 barrels.

“We have a very well-rounded portfolio of IPAs,” Lambert said. “ It is well-defined, creative and there aren’t two in the same style.”

Off-premise dollar sales for 60-Minute IPA — the company’s “workhorse” that made up 48 percent of total production volumes — were up 49 percent, according to IRI. Additionally, 90-Minute IPA, which is now about 20 percent of the company’s overall business, grew 18 percent, Lambert said.

Also growing at a healthy pace were Dogfish Head’s beer-wine hybrids, production for which double in 2013.

“We had an incredible year with Sixty-One,” Lambert said. “We were only going to release it four times, but it kept selling out.”

That’s why Dogfish will make it a year-round offering in 2014, along with Namaste and the company’s gluten-free beer, Tweason’ale.

And despite experiencing considerable success by offering its wholesale and retail partners a robust portfolio of beers, the company plans to shift gears slightly in 2014 and will scale back its suite of offerings to just 26, a move that allows the company to deploy a “scarcity” tactic, Lambert said.

“I call it mothballing,” he said. “We will put some brands on a two-or-three year hiatus, which will allow us to rotate through different beers and manage our portfolio a little bit better. You can only tell so many stories, about 38 beers, over a 12-month period.”

Nonetheless, Dogfish is still aiming for another year of 17-plus percent growth (about 233,000 barrels). They’ll fill out untapped areas of Wisconsin, Indiana and Rhode Island and re-enter Tennessee, but there are no definitive plans to expand its distribution footprint beyond that.

Other selected figures from Dogfish Head’s year-end recap are included below:

  • Dogfish Head sold 1.2 million 750 mL bottles in 2013.
  • Seasonals grew 34 percent in 2013 while 4-packs grew 18 percent on a “large base.”
  • 50 percent of the company’s total volume was sold within the surrounding states of Delaware. The markets it classifies as its “home markets” (DE, PA, MD, NJ, VA, DC, NY) grew at an annual pace of 12 percent.
  • Dogfish grew 40 percent in the Illinois market, 32 percent in Texas, 24 percent in New Jersey and 22 percent in California and Florida.
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