The Discoveries Toft is Unearthing in Move to Head Brewer for Cartridge

This is a part of a continuing series of Q&As with members of the brewing community from across the US. Brewer Magazine will share business and personal insights from Brewmasters, Head Brewers, Brewing Managers, Sales Directors, QCQA Managers and others each weekend to help you get to know each other better in the industry and learn more to better develop your own brand.

Joshua Toft, Head Brewer, Cartridge Brewing — Maineville, Ohio

BREWER: How have recent challenges in your position helped make you better? What were those “pain points” and how did you solve or adjust to the issue?
TOFT: I recently moved from the assistant brewer to head brewer role at Cartridge, which has certainly brought plenty of fun challenges from which to learn. While I had the fundamentals down, discovering all of the other responsibilities that come with the position has not always been easy. Whether it’s inventory management, materials procurement, or equipment maintenance, I’ve had to learn a lot over the last few months. At the end of the day though, I’ve found the easiest way to get through these, and really any issue, is to be willing to ask for help from the people who know more than you do. If it wasn’t for the network I’ve built during my time in the industry, I would have been way over my head trying to manage every aspect of the brewery.

BREWER: What has been your brewery’s most recent accomplishment and how is it going to improve your business going forward?
TOFT: I would have to say one of our more recent accomplishments has been signing with a distributor. We’re still getting used to the adjustment, but I believe it’s going to make a huge difference in our visibility and help drive more and more traffic through our taproom.

BREWER: How did you start in the industry and why do you still want to be a part of it?
TOFT: I started working in the industry because I just needed a job after I finished college and had decided not to pursue teaching. I’m still in the industry because of how well it ended up suiting both my background and interests. I studied agricultural education in college and this industry really allows me to draw from both the agriculture and science side of my background while also giving me plenty of opportunities to learn and teach others who are interested in a brewing career.

BREWER: What are you sippin’ on right now from your brewery that you really enjoy?
TOFT: Right now, my beer of choice is our Cold IPA, Tanto. It’s full of bright citrus and tropical character with just a bit of classic west-coast styling to balance it all out.

BREWER: Be it in styles, ingredients, business strategies or sales & marketing techniques, what are some recent industry trends that you’ve tried or are excited about trying this year?
TOFT: I think the trends I’m most excited about trying more of this year are both tied to hoppy beers. With all the new liquid hop extract products on the market, I would love to play around with some of them to figure out how I can drive more intense hop character and improve yields in my IPAs and similar styles. Likewise, I find the growing interest in styles like Cold IPA and West Coast Pilsner fascinating and am hoping to make more of them in the coming year.

BREWER: What are some adaptations to business practices in the industry that you’ve observed over these past few years, and how has your brewery adjusted to stay competitive?
TOFT: I have admittedly not followed changing business practices too closely, since I’m still fairly new to the industry. However, it seems to me there has been a shift in consumer demand away from bigger, heavier beers with loads of adjuncts to more drinkable and session-able styles. I don’t know if this true across the board, but it certainly is for our area and has made me retool our production focus towards those more sought after beer styles.

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