Brewer Magazine Q&A: Robyn Schumacher, Stoup Brewing

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.

Robyn Schumacher, Co-Owner/Operations/Brewery Lead, Stoup Brewing — Seattle

​BREWER: ​How do you feel your job has had to adapt in the beer market compared to a few years ago?
​SCHUMACHER: ​I have a teaching background so I’ve naturally taken on much of the HR duties in our business. With so many breweries in our region, competition for quality, experienced employees is stiff. I, along with the rest of the ownership team, have to spend a lot more time on hiring and training employees as well as creating an environment that feels rewarding to our staff. As much as I’d like to just brew every day, it’s the people that keep a business running. They require and deserve my time.


​BREWER: ​Who is your mentor in the industry and why? What have you learned from them?
SCHUMACHER: My job spans several aspects of the brewery so I have mentors from a variety of backgrounds. For the service side of the industry, I look to my good friends here in Seattle, Kamala Saxton and Roz Edison, who own several successful restaurants under the Marination name. Not only are they women owned, they have great business minds and are generous with their experience. On the brewing side of things, our industry is highly collaborative so I have mentors all over the city. I’ve learned the most from my business partner and Head Brewer, Brad Benson. He was mentoring me when I was first homebrewing and I continue to learn from him every day.


​BREWER: ​Can you share a success story that you are proud of in your job or maybe a story of how you learned from a situation that has altered your thoughts on how you do your job now?
SCHUMACHER: The beer market has become increasingly competitive so I, along with my business partners, have had to transfer more and more responsibilities to our employees. It takes hard work to create processes and avenues of trust with employees, but it’s been the most rewarding part of my job. We all stay extremely active in the day to day operations of the brewery, but transferring responsibilities to our employees has freed up mental space for creativity and more time to connect with the larger community.


​BREWER: ​Can you touch on something your brewery has added lately that’s unique or making your business more successful (it could be equipment, technology or people)?
SCHUMACHER: We’ve recently expanded our production facility so we now have more space for our barrel aged and sour program. We’ve always brewed a wide variety of beer styles and have quietly created some award winning sours. Due to lack of space, though, we’ve only been able to serve small batches of our sours in the taproom. With the larger production space, we’ll be able to expand our offerings even more and reach a wider audience.


​BREWER: ​If you had one business strategy that you could implement to better the brewing industry, what would it be?
SCHUMACHER: We continue to self distribute even as we grow and pressure increases to sign with a big distributor. I would like to see more regional breweries sticking to self distribution. With consolidation among distributors, the voice of smaller breweries is at risk of being lost. Distributors have their value, but I don’t want to see them determine the direction of the independent brewing industry.

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