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Discovery Hopes Series On Beer Has The Hops

DAVID BAUDER

NEW YORK (AP) â¿¿ The star of Discovery Channel's new series "Brew Masters" says people in his craft beer industry are "proudly promiscuous."

With their products, he means.

"We encourage beer drinkers to check out their competitors' beers," said Sam Calagione, founder of the Dogfish Head Brewery in Delaware, as he sat at a restaurant table with a nearly drained pint of a Brooklyn-made lager in front of him.

Discovery is hoping that the same public food fascination that "Cake Boss" and similar series have tapped into will spill over into the craft brewing industry. Its "Brew Masters" series premieres Sunday at 10 p.m.

Craft brewing is a growth industry in the United States, its existence something of a "back to the future" development for an industry dominated for many years by local brewers before ubiquitous brands like Budweiser took over the market. Many beer drinkers try the small brands to support local companies, and it's a recession-friendly drink, Calagione said.

"Compared to world-class wines, a world-class beer has all the complexity and food-compatibility of wine at half the price," he said.

The "brew master" was a college student in New York who worked as a bartender and became fascinated with the product. He went to the only store in Manhattan that sold home-brewing materials at the time and began making his own beer.

After an apprenticeship at a brewery in Portland, Maine, he started Dogfish Head in Delaware because that's where his wife was from and it was one of only eight states without a small brewery.

Dogfish, which makes more than two dozen brands, specializes in re-creating beers thought lost to history, the recipes often uncovered through archaeological expeditions. Its Jiahu brand, which features rice and sake yeast, comes from a recipe in China that is 10,000 years old, he said.

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