Brewer Magazine Q&A: Elliott Wilkins, Snake River

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.
Elliott Wilkins​, ​Sales & Events Coordinator​, ​Snake River Brewing​ — Jackson, Wyoming​
BREWER: How has your business strategy evolved to help grow and stay competitive?
WILKINS: SRB built its foundation on brewing true to style, which is still our main focus, with that said, the market remains very excited about specialty brews. In the last year we’ve adapted our beer release schedule to include a wider variety of seasonal and specialty beers in addition to more one-off beers on tap in our Brewpub — Brewer’s Choice. It definitely keeps our brewers on their toes, constantly innovating ways to keep our lineup energized. We often keep many of those true Brewer’s Choice styles solely on tap at our Brewpub in downtown Jackson, which helps keep our focus on the roots here in the community. Even though we distribute all across the Rocky Mountain Region, we’re still affectionately referred to as Jackson Hole’s Living Room by our tried-and-true locals.
BREWER: Who is your mentor in the industry and why? What have you learned from them?
WILKINS: Our Sales & Marketing Director — Luke Bauer — gave me a legitimate shot in the industry, and has always made a point to provide himself as a resource while still allowing me to own my position and run with it. Professionally, he’s guided me with three basic tools for building relationships and trust with business partners and consumers alike: 1) Know your brand better than anyone else. 2) Communicate that knowledge effectively. 3) Be genuine — no one wants to talk to a robot. High level advice? Sure is, but keeping it simple is generally best and he’s been quite successful at it. Every brewery and every beer has a story — that’s a big part of what differentiates the industry, and Luke is a great story teller, which is something I’ve begun to adopt in my own way as I utilize those three basic tools. Also, if you have a generally bizarre yet specific question about the cosmos, 90s punk rock or different raptor species, he’s got you covered — knowledge is power.
BREWER: What idea did you or your team come up with lately that has been a big benefit to how your brewery functions?
WILKINS: In the last year, we completed a total rebrand to give our 26-year-old operation a bit of a facelift. We commissioned regional artists to design new labels with contrasting designs that speak to the local environment out here. We also wanted to hide a couple surprises within the new can designs for folks to get a kick out of — the labels are meant to be peeled off and torn apart along the perforated edges so it can be used as a sticker to slap on your gear, plus it makes recycling easier, but the real kicker is the hidden map of the Snake River printed directly on the can underneath the label — you know, just in case you get lost on the river. A rebrand can certainly go either way as seasoned fans get attached and accustomed to the original labels, but we’ve been fortunate to receive overwhelmingly positive feedback from fans new and old alike.​ ​We’ve also updated our Brewpub offerings to include a revamped takeout and brand new delivery service for our local community here in Jackson Hole to accommodate for the ever-changing health and safety protocols surrounding COVID-19.
BREWER: If you had one business strategy that you could implement to better the brewing industry, what would it be?
WILKINS: Standardized “canned on” dates on packaged product would alleviate confusion for consumers and the supply chain. One of the top concerns I used to get while running an off-premise beer department before I entered my current role was, “when was this brewed, how long will it last…” Get everyone on the same page so that consumers have some consistency to lean on when they’re shopping at their local liquor store.
(i.e. [Line 1: Style], [Line 2: Suggested Shelf Life], [Line 3: Canned On Date]):

  • [New England IPA]
  • [3 Months]
  • [Canned On 06/02/20]

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