027: Marcy Larson – Alaskan Brewing Co.

Episode 027:

  • Marcy Larson is the co-founder of Alaskan Brewing Company which she started with her husband Geoff back in 1986.  The brewery is located in Juneau, Alaska and was the 67th independent brewery in the United States and the first brewery in Juneau since Prohibition.

Worst Business Moment:

  • About two years into the operation of Alaskan Brewing things were going pretty well, but money was still tight.  Then one random Thursday afternoon, their bank goes under! On Friday, the brewery had no access to the money in their account.  They weren’t able to access any of their cash for over a week………talk about stressful!!

Best Business Moment:

  • Early on, the brewery was selling beer in Alaska and the locals loved it……Unknown to the Brewery, someone had taken some of their beer down to a seminar being given at UC Davis.  The seminar was part of a course on brewing and flavor profiles and they did a blind tasting.  Alaskan Amber was thrown into the mix and it came out on top out of other beers form the lower 48 that the brewery never considered themselves worthy of competing against.

Best Advice Ever Received:

  • Make a good beer!  Whatever you do make sure the beer is great because your beer not only represents you, but represents all of us in the industry.

Links:

026: Tom Kehoe – Yards Brewing Company

Episode 026:

  • Tom Kehoe is the President and Co-Founder of Yards Brewing Co. in Philadelphia, PA. Tom started Yards out of garage back in 1994 after home brewing throughout his time in college.  From first selling beer in the parking of a Dead show to a handful of moves & expansions, plus several awards along the way, Yards Brewing has seen a lot of growth over the years but more importantly has been Philly’s hometown brewery from day one.

Worst Business Moment:

  • Like a lot of brewers, Tom and his original partner started out for the love of beer and were extremely passionate about making beer and being the “beer guys.” When you are the owners of a small company and the last ones to get paid sometimes reality trumps that passion.  One of Tom’s worst moment in business was when his original part left the company.  They were small, not producing a ton of beer and Tom’s partner felt he needed to leave to “make money” and provide for this family.  This was a difficult time Tom, his business partner and the brewery.

Best Business Moment:

  • The little moments when someone might recognize you as the Yard Brewing guy and just want to talk beer for a bit or when you over hear the person next to you (whom you don’t know) say “I love this beer” as they drink the fruits of your labor……..those are some of the best moments for Tom.

Best Advice Ever Received:

  • Don’t get too big too fast……

Links:

025: Jason Ebel – Two Brothers Brewing Co.

Episode 025:

  • Jason Ebel and his brother Jim started Two Brothers in late 1996.  The brother’s love of flavorful beer started with travels throughout Europe in the late 80’s which led them to opening a home brew and wine making store in 1992.  The more they were around brewing, the more passionate they became about opening their own brewery.

Worst Business Moment:

  • Managing employees is hard, especially when you go into business at a young age without a lot of experience.  Early on Jason struggled with being a good manager and seeing that their may be more than one way to do something.  After an unpleasant interaction with one of his first employees, Jason set out to learn everything he could about being a good effective manager and leader of people.  Something he says he still works on each and every day.

“Light Bulb” Moment:

  • Validation of a risk you take in business doesn’t always happen……..and when that validation does occur, sometimes it is many years in the making.  One of Jason’s best memories is a risk they took in sour beer that was validated over 6 years after taking the plunge.

Best Advice Ever Received:

  • Make sure that whatever you do for a living everyday, is something you love……..when you stop enjoying what you do, its time to move on.

Links:

024: Scott Hovey – Adelbert’s Brewery

Episode 023:

  • Scott Hovey is founder and brewmaster of Adelbert’s Brewery which started back in 2012 as a tribute to his late brother, George Adelbert Hovey.  Scott was a passionate home brewer for years before starting his brewery and believes in brewing beer that he likes to drink.

Worst Business Moment:

  • A seasonal sales cycle can be tough on cash flow, add some change and things really get interesting. During a recent transition from self distribution to going with a distributor new sales took a nose dive as retailers worked through the inventory they already had on hand, coupled with a traditionally slow seasonal period for the brewery.  While sales went down, expenses did not and caused a stressful strain on cash flow.

“Light Bulb” Moment:

  • Scott has had several light bulb moments over the years…..One is getting into cans! Other “light bulb” moments have been in hindsight, in what the general public will actually like.  Scott said “You just never know what’s going to resonate with people and you have to be open to some experimentation and thinking out side the box.”

Best Advice Ever Received:

  • Plan for the unexpected……especially financially.

Links:

023: Joey Redner – Cigar City Brewing

Episode 023:

  • Joey Redner is the founder and CEO of Tampa, FL’s Cigar City Brewing which opened its doors in the Spring of 2009.  The award winning brewery started as a modest two person brewery and after a few years of rapid growth is one of Florida’s largest breweries.

Worst Business Moment:

  • Joey’s initial vision for his brewery was to be a small specialty brewery. Early on, after some guidance from his father, this initial vision was reshaped…….He states one of his biggest mistakes was not fully understanding how the choices they made early one, as far as the direction of the company, would ultimately take them.

“Light Bulb” Moment:

  • Joey’s “pride bone” gets tickled every time he sees some pick up a their beer and put it in their shopping cart.  To know that somebody likes something you’ve done enough to spend money on it is a “pretty cool thing.”

Best Advice Ever Received:

  • Be honest with yourself……..have a clear idea of what makes you tick and what you are likely going to stay committed to over the long term.

Links:

022: Brent Ryan – Newport Storm Brewery

Episode 022:

  • Brent Ryan is the president and co-founder of Newport Storm Brewery which released it’s first beer in July 1999.  Started by four friends after graduating college, Newport Storm has steadily grown over the years and has even launched a distillery.

Worst Business Moment:

  • Your brewery is your “baby.” You can get emotional about it, take things personally and sometimes over step your boundaries when it comes to critiquing partners like your distributor.  This is exactly what happen with Newport Storm when they were working on a project with their distributor.  Things got a little scary and they weren’t sure how and if the relationship would bounce back.

“Light Bulb” Moment:

  • Watching that first person whom you don’t know purchase the beer you make is an awesome experience.

Best Advice Ever Received:

  • Its about selling beer………you need to connect with the people who are buying the product you make.

Links:

021: David Valentine – Rethink Creative Group

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Episode 020:

  • Episode 020 is a slight departure from our normal podcast of interviewing brewery peeps.  This episode features David Valentine of Rethink Creative Group based in Dallas, TX.  Rethink is a full service creative agency and David is a co-founder and the Chief of Dream

Topics In This Episode Include:

  • The importance of  a brand presence, packing, name, logo, etc.
  • Why you MUST tell your story and how…….
  • Consistency of both message and delivery and why its so valuable
  • Can a brand stand on its own or do you need a “face” to your brewery?
  • How best to refresh a brand and/or completely re-brand yourself.
  • What packaging flies of the shelves?

Links:

020: Oscar Wong – Highland Brewing Company

Episode 020:

  • Oscar Wong is the owner and founder of Highland Brewing Company located in Asheville, North Carolina.  Highland rolled out its first kegs in December 1994 with a system built almost entirely of retrofitted dairy equipment.

Worst Business Moment:

  • Three years after starting Highland, Oscar was talked into starting a brewpub.  Oscar said this venture really took a lot of the “gas out of his tank”.  The pub took his “eye off the ball” in regards to the the brewery and two years later he closed the pub.

“Light Bulb” Moment:

  • Highland’s distributor was pushing them to get into 12oz bottles.  They were very reluctant as they had no space and would be forced to move locations to make this happen and that was a daunting task.  Once they made that leap however, production really took off.

Best Advice Ever Received:

  • Be honest with people……..

Links:

019B: Robbie O’Cain – Starr Hill Brewery (part Two)

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Episode 019 A&B:

  • Robbie O’Cain is the Brewmaster at Starr Hill Brewery which started in September 1999 .  As the second oldest craft brewery in Virginia, Starr Hill has been a pioneer in the industry and has helped lay the ground work for the growing craft beer community in the region.

Worst Business Moment:

  • When you put your heart, soul, blood, sweat and tears into a business, it hurts when others don’t feel the same way.  One of the low points in business for Robbie is when some employees didn’t believe in the direction the brewery was going and in what the brewery was trying to achieve.

“Light Bulb” Moment:

  • Your flagship product that makes up 30% of your sales is doing great, but you have a “light bulb” moment that things really need to change….everything from packaging to recipe!  Scary as all get out, but you know you have to do it…….that is what Starr Hill experienced not too long ago.

Best Advice Ever Received:

  • “Create your own luck through HARD WORK! “

Links:

019a: Robbie O’Cain – Starr Hill Brewery (Part One)

download

Episode 019 A&B:

  • Robbie O’Cain is the Brewmaster at Starr Hill Brewery which started in September 1999 .  As the second oldest craft brewery in Virginia, Starr Hill has been a pioneer in the industry and has helped lay the ground work for the growing craft beer community in the region.

Worst Business Moment:

  • When you put your heart, soul, blood, sweat and tears into a business, it hurts when others don’t feel the same way.  One of the low points in business for Robbie is when some employees didn’t believe in the direction the brewery was going and in what the brewery was trying to achieve.

“Light Bulb” Moment:

  • Your flagship product that makes up 30% of your sales is doing great, but you have a “light bulb” moment that things really need to change….everything from packaging to recipe!  Scary as all get out, but you know you have to do it…….that is what Starr Hill experienced not too long ago.

Best Advice Ever Received:

  • “Create your own luck through HARD WORK! “

Links: