Why Award-Winning Brink Has Worked to Temper Expectations Even While Growing

This is a part of a continuing series of Q&As with members of the brewing community from across the U.S.
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 McCleese, founder/managing partner, Brink Brewing — Cincinnati

BREWER: How has your business strategy evolved to help grow and stay competitive?
McCLEESE: To be honest, it had not changed much until COVID-19 restrictions hit. We were fairly content making our world class beers, winning GABF Very Small Brewing Company of the year in 2018 and 2019, and being focused on our taproom and incremental growth. With COVID we have rethought our strategy which now includes moving into distribution and packaging (cans) as we look to do more retail outside the taproom.

BREWER: Who is your mentor in the industry and why? What have you learned from them?
McCLEESE: Nobody specifically. Cincinnati has a very robust brewing scene and I have made some great friends with other local brewery owners. There are several people I feel comfortable reaching out to if I have questions of ideas to bounce off someone. If I was to name one brewery/person, I would give the nod to Joe Sierra/Jim Klosterman over at Fretboard.

BREWER: What idea did you or your team come up with lately that has been a big benefit to how your brewery functions?
McCLEESE: Our move into canning is going to be huge for us. We already have every retailer in town clamoring to get their hands on our cans when they come out. It will give our brewery exposure that even our awards have not garnered.

BREWER: If you had one business strategy that you could implement to better the brewing industry, what would it be?
McCLEESE: Not so much a strategy, but more a cautionary tale to new entrants in the space. It is much more competitive and crowded in the brewing landscape than even five years ago. Temper expectations. There doesn’t seem to be a day go by that somebody talks to us be about opening their own brewery with the expectations of rapid growth and taking over the market because ‘we make good beer.’ Running a brewery and staying relevant in an ever-crowded market is extremely tough work and I feel like too many folks still think they can just open the doors, make marginal beer, and it will work for them. The proliferation of breweries has absolutely put a premium on quality, which is a good thing. You cannot put out a bad product to the market and expect it to fly.

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  1. Pingback: The Business Acumen These 5 Brewery Managers Learned From Others - Brewer Magazine

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