These 2 Attributes Help Conlon Thrive with Heretic

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.

Andrew Conlon, Chief Operations Officer, Heretic Brewery and Distillery — Fairfield, California

BREWER: What do you feel have been new challenges in your position that have helped push you and make you better at your job? 
CONLON: The craft beer industry is aggressively shifting and changing. The tastes of alcohol drinkers are changing, as are what is available out in the market. People that originally were craft beer drinkers are starting to move towards other canned alcohol options, and the big challenge is to continue to produce new, exciting, profitable craft beers, to continue to have our craft beer portfolio thrive, while also focusing on canned cocktails, as well. The state of the industry has pushed me to continue to innovate, continue to work on reducing costs, continue to try out every possible product. It’s an exciting moment for us, but it comes with its own set of new challenges.

BREWER: Why did you enter the craft beer industry and what makes you love being a part of it and staying in it? 
CONLON: I was a home brewer originally. I always loved the innovation and creativity, and the craft beer industry is founded on those two concepts, which is why I was so excited to jump in head first. I thrive on chaos and creativity. Whether it is creating a new recipe, a new can label design, a new style of cocktail, there is always the ability to get your creativity hat on, act like a chef, and figure out all the variables that create a new brand. When I started as a homebrewer, it was all about the recipe, and now that I have taken over with operations, I’ve realized the success of a new brand is all of the different variables firing on all cylinders (recipe creation, can label design, marketing, sales, tap room release). If one of those variables falters, there are so many other brands out in the market, that it could be what prevents the success of said brand. That constant fight and the push for innovation is what I love and stress about, and what keeps me motivated as I walk into the brewery every Monday morning.

BREWER: What are some recent trends within your job and expertise in the industry that you’ve tried or are excited about trying? 
CONLON: New brands of cocktails to add to our portfolio, new hop products (terpenes, live resin hop oils, pourables, etc.) to diversify our IPA portfolio, potentially N/A beers or low calorie IPAs, and malt-based cocktails.

BREWER: ​What was your business’s greatest accomplishment during the past year, and what are your goals for your brewery this year? 
CONLON: A constant flow of new and exciting beers and canned cocktails, a rebranding of sorts, and continuing to push our tap room and social media towards success. My future goals are a continuation of the above, and helping push Heretic to be a household name, not just for high quality craft beer (as it always has been), but also to make us a name for high quality cocktails and spirits.

BREWER: ​What are some changes in the industry that you’ve observed in the past few years, and how has your business adapted to it to stay competitive? 
CONLON: The number of changes is innumerable. The cost of goods (malt, hops, packaging materials, utilities, labor) have all gone up, but we somehow have to stay competitive, is a huge hurtle. We’ve reached a saturation point with craft breweries and an overall change in the alcohol landscape (more canned alcohol options), so the main way to stay competitive is to innovate, put out unique alcoholic options that are the most desirable at the most competitive price. We need to continue to push the envelope, since the next big style could be anything, whether it is an IPA or maybe some canned cocktail.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.