Brewer Magazine Q&A: Ryan Schmiege, Cascade Lakes Brewery

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.

Ryan Schmiege, Brewmaster, Cascade Lakes Brewery — Redmond, Oregon
BREWER: How do you feel your job has had to adapt in the beer market compared to a few years ago?
SCHMIEGE: The bottom line is the space is more crowded than ever; more breweries, more beers. This makes for a fun environment for consumers, but a challenging place to stand out for brewers. We have to work harder now than ever to connect with the consumer and give them products and experiences that they’ll continue to come back for.
BREWER: Who is your mentor in the industry and why? What have you learned from them?
SCHMIEGE: I’m very lucky to say there are a lot of incredible people who I have considered mentors throughout my career. However, Larry Sidor probably had more influence in my development than anyone. Working with Larry I learned about technologies and processes I was otherwise unaware of. I also learned not to fear failure when it comes to recipe creation, but to instead embrace new, weird, difficult and unlikely ingredients and methods. Pushing boundaries is the only way to learn. 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?
SCHMIEGE: We’ve changed the majority of our production practices at Cascade Lakes Brewing over the past four months and every change has either made our brewery safer, cleaner or improved product quality. That is the kind of success we can continue to build on.

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)?
SCHMIEGE: The team we’re creating at our brewery, from new ownership through all of us brewing and packaging is a recipe for positive cooperation, innovation and success. We’ve also begun brewing on our new  one-barrel R&D system which should really help our brewing team learn, while creating new beers.

If you had one business strategy that you could implement to better the brewing industry, what would it be?
SCHMIEGE: Avarice is not the answer nor is it a reason. The brewing families and relationships we create are the reason and the answer. Too many people in this industry have forgotten that.
Photos Courtesy Justin Quinn Photography

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