Brewer Magazine Q&A: Chad Henderson, NoDa Brewing

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 weekend 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.

Chad Henderson, head brewer/co-owner, NoDa Brewing — Charlotte

BREWER: What is a lesson learned within your position that sticks with you to this day?
HENDERSON: If it might happen, it probably will at some point or another so always stay on your toes.

BREWER: Who is your mentor in the industry and why? What have you learned from them?
HENDERSON: I’ve learned from many brewers and I could consider many people to be more or less a mentor. When I was trying to get into the beer industry I highly respected Sam Calagione from Dogfish Head for how he represented his company and promoted his brand.

BREWER: What have you added to your brewery lately that’s unique or making your business more successful?
HENDERSON: Adding more limited release cans out to the market, whether limited in local stores or exclusively from our own taproom has really generated an increase in excitement for our brand. These smaller batch limited releases (done on our 15-bbls system or occasionally a single run on our 60-bbls system) are more work due to wrapping labels and such but it keeps something fresh and unique not only on tap but also in package form. We have also put a lot of effort into more standardized QA techniques, panels and equipment which has really allowed us to have a better sense on the overall quality of each brand and therefore be able to tighten down on our brand standards.

BREWER: In today’s business climate for craft beer, how will your brewery grow? What sort of innovations in craft beer excite you?
HENDERSON: I think that it’s essential as a brewery in today’s craft market to maintain a strong balance of diversity of brands but also consistency of brands. I feel that if you have dependable products that stay consistent and fresh while delivering new unique brands that match the quality of the year-round or more regular beers is the way to go. I think that if you saturate your market with a limited offering that is consistent in quality you can be successful but rarely something that is in the spotlight in the eyes of the craft consumer. I feel like consistent and quality beers allows you to develop a reputation of higher quality so the consumers expect that same level of quality when you release new or limited run brands which keeps the overall brand exciting and relevant to trends, etc.

BREWER: If you had one strategy that you could implement to better the craft beer business, what would it be?
HENDERSON: Better education on the handling and storage of beer to ensure beer quality. There’s so many things we can alter and adjust to ensure we produce the best quality beer possible but we can’t adjust time or freshness so we have to make sure that the product is stored right to get the best resulting beer.

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