Brewer Magazine Q&A: Damo McConn, Summit 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 Wednesday and weekends 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.

Damo McConn, Chief Brewing Officer, Summit Brewing — St. Paul, Minnesota

BREWER: What is a lesson learned within your position that sticks with you to this day?
MCCONN: Ultimately our industry is all about the people who make the beer. Brewers, packaging personnel, Quality technicians; without the folks on the ground being passionate and engaged, it’s impossible to make great beer.

BREWER: Who is your mentor in the industry and why? What have you learned from them?
MCCONN:I’ve been fortunate to have learned a lot from many great brewers and brewing chemists over the years. Professor Graham Stewart and his unwavering belief in the importance of a scientific approach to brewing comes immediately to mind. Derek Prentice, formerly of Fullers and Young’s, has always been passionate about remaining true to one’s core values and continually pushing quality forward.

BREWER: What have you added to your brewery lately that’s unique or making your business more successful?
MCCONN: We’ve placed a greater emphasis on connecting the final beer drinker with where the actual ingredients for making beer come from. Having a personal relationship and connection to barley farmers and hop growers allows for a more personal drinking experience.

BREWER: In today’s business climate for craft beer, how will your brewery grow?
MCCONN: Continuing to respect the final consumer, rather than make them pay for our mistakes and learning curve. Being inclusive when it comes to beer in general, as opposed to alienating potential customers.

BREWER: What sort of innovations in craft beer excite you?
MCCONN: A return to moderately alcoholic styles than continue to highlight flavor, character and complexity.

BREWER: If you had one strategy that you could implement to better the craft beer business, what would it be?
MCCONN: Every brewery, regardless of size, would place a greater emphasis on Quality and QA/QC in general, as opposed to it being considered as an afterthought.

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