With all their delicious flavors, not to mention high alcohol content, having one too many craft beers can creep up on you. The Dogfish Head Brewery danger caps — a bright neon yellow crown — is clamped onto every Dogfish Head beer over 15 percent alcohol by volume (ABV). The most interesting aspect of the cap? It’s not just a warning to craft beer drinkers, but a red flag to retailers who were seeing more expensive, higher ABV Dogfish Head beers walk out the door under the guise of a lower-priced brew.
The Dogfish Head blog explained that the danger crowns were more function over fashion when put into place in 2001, as retailers realized that some wayward craft beer drinkers were swapping bottles out of Dogfish head carriers to pay less for the beer.
From the blog:
The label and copper cap on World Wide Stout looked a lot like the label and copper cap on our much more down-to-Earth Indian Brown Ale, especially since neither has a neck label. A few bold – some would say unethical – beer buyers were taking bottles of Indian Brown out of their six-packs and replacing them with World Wides [Stout]. Most retailers were none-the-wiser and ended up on the losing end of this creative transaction.
To make beer buying more transparent, Dogfish Head installed a color-coded cap structure to let both retailers and consumers know the type of beer by cap. Beers between 9 and 14 percent get a red cap and beers below 9 percent ABV get a copper cap. Palo Santo Marron – Dogfish Head’s year-round, wood-aged brown ale – gets its own wood-grain crown.
Dogfish Head was quick to mention that while, from time to time, a danger cap can sneak onto a beer under the 15 percent ABV mark, the brewery’s quality control does its best to ensure that it won’t make it out the door.