OktoberForest: Dogfish Head Brewery

Dogfish Head was founded by Sam and Mariah Calagione in 1995 when they opened Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats - the first state's first brewpub - in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. Not only was Dogfish Head Delaware’s first brewpub, it was the smallest commercial brewery in America. The company moved production of its beer to nearby Milton, Delaware, in 2002 and has rapidly expanded since then. In 2016, Dogfish Head was ranked as the 14th largest craft brewer in the U.S., based on beer volume sales, according to the Brewers Association.

Dogfish Head has a long history of supporting and partnering with local nonprofits including The Nature Conservancy in Delaware. Since 2007, Dogfish Head has donated the proceeds from their annual 8K Dogfish Dash to the Delaware chapter of The Nature Conservancy, generating more than $500,000! Through Dogfish Head’s Beer & Benevolence program, their staff has also contributed time and energy to help support tree planting projects and other improvements to TNC’s preserves in Sussex County. 

Dogfish Head has long supported initiatives related to clean water and is always looking for new ways to boost efficiency and sustainability, which benefit both their bottom line and the environment.

"Beer is 90 percent water, and we can't avoid a certain amount of waste," says Mark Carter, Dogfish Head’s Beer & Benevolence guru. "But instead of looking away and plowing forward, we're thoughtful about how we handle it and strive to become a ripple in the pond of re-use and education. Like a lot of other small, independent businesses, craft brewers take stewardship and sustainability very seriously,” says Mark. “Brewing is so water-intensive that it makes sense for us to focus a lot of our effort on water.”

Here are a few ways Dogfish has helped make the most of our most precious resource, water:

REUSE and IRRIGATION: The brewery doesn’t just let its wastewater go down the drain. The company recently invested $9 million in an innovative water recovery system which cleans and re-uses water for the production process, like flushing the pipes and rinsing the tanks. This process alone can use 75,000 gallons of water per day. Additional water is recaptured and sent to local farms. At the farms, the water is used in spray irrigation, where it soaks into the soil and recharges groundwater.

RAIN BARRELS: Instead of trashing the large plastic ingredient barrels, the brewery donates them to organizations like the Center for the Inland Bays and the Delaware Department of Natural Resources to make rain barrels. A house that sees an inch of rain in 24 hours can produce more than 700 gallons of runoff, and rain barrels help collect and store that water. It can be used to water lawns, wash cars and clean gardening tools. Meanwhile, water bills are lowered and streams and rivers are protected from litter, fertilizer, pet waste and motor oil.

REFORESTATION EFFORTS: Dogfish co-workers and their friends have partnered with the Delaware chapter of The Nature Conservancy in recent years to plant 500 shortleaf pine trees at TNC’s Ponders Tract Preserve. The Ponders tract was once used by a lumber company for loblolly pine timber production. Now, The Nature Conservancy is transforming the loblolly plantation into a native coastal forest of oak, hickory, tulip poplar, sassafras, red maple and other hardwoods. The native trees dramatically cut stormwater runoff, prevent evaporation, encourage soil stabilization and help clean water before it makes it to local streams and rivers. Dogfish employees have also helped with trail improvements and maintenance projects at TNC’s other public preserve, the Edward H. McCabe Preserve.

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