Sam Calagione - brewmaster at Dogfish Head Brewing.

Brewmasters cancelled: Big Beer threatened Discovery Channel

I should preface this by saying that it is a bit difficult to piece together a story when the information is coming at you 140 characters at a time. For the last day or so there has been some chatter on Twitter that is of interest to craft beer enthusiasts. Who knows how much truth there is to it, but the Discovery Channel has been accused of canceling Brewmasters, the show about Dogfish Head Brewing, because “big beer” threatened to pull ads from the network.

Knock me down with a feather.

Yesterday on Twitter

Anthony Bourdain tweeted: “@TheAtlanticLIFE See what happened to Dogfish/Discovery deal. Big beer threatened to pull ads.”

And then: “@TheAtlanticLIFE Big story there. Brewmasters goes–or our ads do.”

@TheAtlanticLIFE then tweeted: “Thanks for the story tip, Big Beer is all over the place these days. We’ll look into that.” has been following the story. They have more information. You can read it here.

Know the players

I suppose Anthony Bourdain could be considered an inside source. Anthony Bourdain is a writer and a chef. He is the star of a television shown called No Reservations, one of the Travel Channel’s most popular shows. He is clever, brash, outspoken, and well-traveled. He certainly is close to the action (I think Travel Channel and Discovery Channel are joined at the hip) and he is just the kind of untamed loudmouth that would say something he shouldn’t. God love him.

Brewmasters is a show that ran briefly on the Discovery Channel featuring Dogfish Head Brewery and its charismatic and handsome leader, Sam Calagione. (I just love saying stuff like that about him.) Brewmasters has apparently been canceled. Apparently there is one episode waiting to air—something to do with the upcoming opening of an Italian beer garden in New York, for which Dogfish made a collaborative beer with an Italian brewery. But by all indications, that’s it. I think.

@TheAtlanticLIFE is the twitter handle for The Atlantic magazine’s lifestyle section.

At least one other source on Twitter has said that Discovery Channel confirms that Brewmasters has been canceled. According to that source, Discovery Channel cited a lack of viewer interest as the reason.

It is all kind of crazy, I know. Still, I hope that The Atlantic does some research. If it’s turns out that Big Beer really did threaten to pull ads unless Brewmasters was canceled, would anyone really be surprised?

Sam Calagione - brewmaster at Dogfish Head Brewing.


  1. I watched a couple of episodes of Brewmasters and wasn’t impressed. It was more of a commercial for Dogfish Head Ales than craft brewing in general. I was hoping it would be more about the different craft brewers around the country than just DfH Ales.

  2. I love Dogfish Head brews. I love other craft brews. I watched two episodes of Brewmasters and was utterly bored. Even if “Big Beer” threatened to pull advertising from the channel, the show was doomed. I have yet to meet someone who thought it was something they had to watch.

    I agree with Kedamono that the show was one big advertisement for Dogfish Head. Sad but true.

  3. We may never know if it is true, but it sure is easy to imagine Big Beer Co, LTD putting the squeeze on Discovery. Why wouldn’t they? They have the leverage and this show threatened to get people interested in craft beer. That’s what I liked about it — I accepted the fact that I probably wasn’t the target audience.

  4. The show wasn’t for everybody that is true, but no show is for ‘everyone’! If you have an interest in art, imagination, history, the struggle for the “little man” battling big corporate America, then this should have interested you. Big Beer companies have such crappy beer that once a person starts tasting what ‘real beer’ should taste like then of course you wouldn’t go buy a six pack of massed produced, watered down lager anymore. I, and beer enthusiast alike, really enjoyed the show and will miss it.

  5. There was definitely something odd happening at the Discovery Channel with this show. Being a cable program, shows like Brewmasters can remain on the air without the fan base of a show like “Two and a Half Men”. Considering the array of reality programming you can’t tell me there’s not a big enough niche market for this show. That’s not to say they couldn’t go back to the drawing board on its design. DFH makes such a wide variety of beers that even with the focus just on that brewery I think it could result in interesting shows. Did big beer threaten to pull advertising? We won’t know and it doesn’t really seem to make sense when the craft beer movement still benefits InBev and other conglomerates. Truly disappointing for the average craft beer enthusiast!

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