Brewer Magazine Q&A: Fred Rizzo, Avery 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 & weekend 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.

Fred Rizzo, Directory of Brewing Operations, Avery Brewing — Boulder, Colorado

BREWER: What is a lesson learned within your position that sticks with you to this day?
RIZZO: The main lesson that holds more true now than ever is there’s no room for poor quality (as defined by no major flaws present and the general consistency of the product) beer in the Craft industry. Although we’re experiencing record growth in our segment, Craft is still a maturing industry that should represent quality first and foremost. Even the smallest breweries can afford the most basic lab equipment to help ensure quality beer is the only type of beer consumed by their customers.

BREWER: Who is your mentor in the industry and why? What have you learned from them?
RIZZO: The famous Steven J. Breezley who is now running Operations at Ska. I started working for Breeze when I was 22 and he immediately instilled brewing passion and the ideal to never sacrifice quality for quantity while having fun doing it!

BREWER: What have you added to your brewery lately that’s unique or making your business more successful?
RIZZO: We’ve recently added a custom-made mobile spice/adjunct dosing vessel. This allows for both hot and cold side dosing of almost anything you can imagine adding to beer. With this vessel we have cut our standard dosing time of various fruit peels, coconut, vanilla, wet or whole hops by an average of five days while efficiently extracting the highest quality elements of the adjunct.

BREWER: In today’s business climate for craft beer, how will your brewery grow?
RIZZO: For the vast majority of Avery’s history, production has benefited from our large capital expenditures. As a brewer this is great for me, but unfair to our awesome Sales and Marketing departments. Currently in Production we have everything we need to brew 150,000 bbls tomorrow, so we’re focused on the growth/development of our sales force and our Marketing department is spearheading a brand update which is a huge undertaking. On the Production side we’re always focused on the continuous development of our beers to stay true to the innovation, experimentation, quality and consistency Avery was built on. We have also recently acquired a minority business partner (Editor’s Note: Mahou San Miguel) with vast brewing knowledge (over 100 years!) which will give Avery more opportunities to grow for years to come.

BREWER: What sort of innovations in craft beer excite you?
RIZZO: I’ll be honest, I don’t like N.E.-style IPAs and I’m from Vermont! What I do think is cool is the innovative ways brewers have found to hop, dry hop and adjust traditional mash salt ratios that until recently haven’t been widely used. It’s hard to find truly new ways to introduce a raw material (hops) that’s one of the four main ingredients in beer in such a non-traditional and “out-of-the-box” way.

BREWER: If you had one strategy that you could implement to better the craft beer business, what would it be?
RIZZO: We as an industry need to remember what got us here in the first place, beer! There has been a shift in consumer interest towards associating more with a brewery image rather than the quality/consistency of the liquid being produced. I would love to see more breweries (mostly new ones) focusing themselves as first-class beer producers rather than a brewery who aligns with a hip image and beer second.

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