Brewer Magazine Q&A: Ben Cook, Hangar 24

This is a part of a continuing series of Q&As with brewers from across the U.S.

Brewer Magazine will share business and personal insights from Brewmasters, Head Brewers, Brewing Managers and others each Wednesday and weekends to help you, a fellow brewer, Brewmaster or brewing manager get to know each other better in the industry and learn more to better develop your own brand.

Ben Cook, Owner/Master Brewer, Hanger 24 Brewing — Redlands, California

BREWER: What is a lesson learned within your position that sticks with you to this day?

COOK: Quality is paramount. You must take care of the beer from grain to glass. Take care of your people and they’ll take care of the beer.

BREWER: Who is your mentor in the industry and why? What have you learned from them?

COOK: Bob Drobish. Too much to mention here. We discuss everything from something as high level as business strategy all the way to low level, but important things like word choice in emails. I believe that having a mentor is completely necessary for sustained success.

BREWER: What have you added to your brewery lately that’s unique or making your business more successful?

COOK: A new state-of-the-art pilot system. We love brewing new and exciting beers and listening to the feedback when we share them with our loyal community. Pushing boundaries is what has moved the brewing industry forward, and that exploratory mindset also helps tap into our adventurous nature.

BREWER: In today’s business climate for craft beer, how will your brewery grow?

COOK: Innovation and execution. I believe you need to be on top of your game in both areas to succeed. It’s tough out there right now. You have to focus on innovation throughout the organization and execute at the highest level if you want to grow in today’s ever evolving beer industry.

BREWER: What sort of innovations in craft beer excite you?

COOK: Where to begin? Innovations are just pure fun. There are innovations in equipment, in ingredients, and of course in finished beer. Using non-traditional ingredients has helped us to explore beer’s potential. Even non-traditional collaborations can be innovative like the ones we do with local growers, honey farmers, coffee roasters and small-batch chocolate makers.

BREWER: If you had one strategy that you could implement to better the craft beer business, what would it be?

COOK: The ability to package and get smaller batch beers to the consumer in a financially-responsible manner. The consumer would get the variety and specialty beers they want and the brewery gets to be adventurous with its beer inside a sustainable business model.

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