Is Your Innovation Working Inside Or Outside Taproom?

Innovation is a key driver for growth according to many craft brewers. The search for a new style, or a twist on something established have been touched on as ways to expand in market share and finding new consumers along with building rapport with current fans.

But being consistent inside your brand is also key. Knowing what your brand is and the marketplace can be helpful as well.

“Is it really a strong local brand or is it a brand that can go beyond the local market,” asked new Heavy Seas CEO Dan Kopman. “Innovation that might work in a diverse offering of beers in a tap room may be very different from innovation for the market that now requires a lot of focus.”

Heavy Seas’ Loose Cannon brand continues to be a mainstay of the Baltimore beer scene, is already relevant outside of the local market and can become a bigger brand in the U.S. craft beer market, Kopman said.

“We can continue to build the Heavy Seas brand in the local market through on and off premise retailers in the region,” he explained, saying they are working with their Alehouse partners in Baltimore and Arlington and through an expanded tap room at the brewery, which is planned to open in 2018.

“Outside of the region, we can take the Cannon brand family to many parts of the US and beyond. But we are in no rush,” Kopman said. “There will be no benefit to rushing into new markets before we establish more sold points of distribution in the markets where we have active wholesalers and our own staff. And we will have to build out the production, sales and marketing capacity to do so.”

Kopman joined Heavy Seas earlier this year after helping launch Schlafly in the early 1990s in the St. Louis market. He left the company in late 2016 and has joined the Maryland brewery, working with Hugh Sisson, who he has known since the 1980s.

“When I came to visit, I met a team that is passionate about craft beer and supportive of each other,” Kopman said. “Right after I started I met the investor group, many of whom started with Hugh over 20 years ago. They want to see the brewery continue to move forward but they realize that this will not be easy and are realistic.”

Like all brewers experiencing rapid growth in the past decade, Kopman said he was aware that Heavy Seas had had some challenges producing consistent, high quality, shelf-stable beers.

“I had connected them with some experienced people in the industry many years back,” he said. “I checked in with these people and then toured the brewery. It was clear that they had made a renewed commitment to quality over the years and had made significant investments in a new brewhouse, a new high-speed packaging line and other equipment. The baseline of quality is very high and I hope that I can enhance that further.”

Kopman noted that Heavy Seas has built great relationships with distributors and retailers.

“They understand the business from the perspective of their customers and not just their own business,” he said. “Having this baseline of great relationships will allow is to build new relationships and systems to enhance our sales efforts.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *