The Business Acumen These 5 Brewery Managers Learned From Others

Everyone came from somewhere. That means every brewery that has been opened by someone has been shaped as a business from someone else.

Brewer asked breweries from across the country to share where their business or professional acumen was developed and how it has molded what the brewery stands for now. A lot of lessons to run a brewery aren’t started at another brewery.

Betty Bollas —​ President/Co-Owner, Fibonacci

In my previous position, I was the Senior Human Resources Director for a major non-profit. I have used so much of the knowledge I gained from that company and that position. There are many basic but important business aspects like budgeting, finances, and human resources that so many businesses overlook. I was also able to implement equity and inclusion goals and programming for the organization which allowed me to use these learnings in my own business.

Andrew​ McCleese — Founder/Managing Partner, Brink​

Personally, I gained my business acumen through business school and working 15 years in a leadership/business administration role in the healthcare industry. I also previously owned a small construction company. I hate to say I didn’t learn how to open a brewery, run a production facility and retail establishment from any one particular source. The simplest lesson I learned from all of this is how to forecast revenue, cost, and I learned some restraint in terms of not getting out over your skis and growing too quickly by over-leveraging yourself or having a rose-colored glass approach to market demand. I have always been a craft beer contrarian that yes, the market is oversaturated, that yes, there are too many breweries, and that yes, too many breweries have thought they can rapidly expand because the craft beer market will grow 10% each year and all you have to do “make good beer.” I had much more realistic expectations when I opened my brewery.

Brittany Statt​ — Marketing Director, Rohrbach​

This is one I can certainly relate to. When departing a larger marketing agency to in-house at a smaller brewing company, the biggest takeaway I brought with me was a team workflow/communication tool. Before using a program, projects were only managed through e-mail and in​ ​person. As the company grew and had multiple locations, something else was needed. We now use Basecamp and it’s improved so many aspects of our business! It helps the full staff communicate better between locations, feel involved, and get excited about upcoming projects/releases, while also improving our workflow on projects.

Carli Smith​ — Head Brewer, ​D9​

While working for Rock Bottom Brewery​ & ​Restaurant I learned the importance of having a balanced beer list. When you have a brewery that has a beer list with a little bit of everything instead of focusing on one style you can entice a more diverse customer group to stay longer in your establishment. Especially during these times increasing check averages and lengths of stay of your guests is paramount to a brewery’s survival. We will be implementing this in our local breweries by having a mix of our D9 Brewing favorites as well as new offerings made by the in house local brewer.

Jack Dyer —​ Co-Founder,​ Topa Topa

For me personally, having a solid business partner who has extensive experience on the manufacturing/brewing side of things has been the best decision I ever made. Our Brewmaster and Co-Founder​,​ Casey Harris​,​ juggles a myriad of things for Topa Topa. His experience in manufacturing has been critical in our first ​five​ years and will remain critically important in the years to come. We’ve been able to set up systems that have allowed us to scale. We recently added a Director of Operations and Planning to our team who has experience from outside the beer industry from a planning perspective. Having a fresh set of eyes on our planning process has been very cool. In only a few short months we are much more organized from a planning perspective than we ever have been in the past. We also spend a ton of time engaging with our fellow industry brethren. I’ve always been keen to ping folks in the industry who have been around much longer than us. Brands like Allagash and Firestone Walker have been great mentors for us, and have openly shared their insights on a wide variety of topics from planning, to sales, to more technical brewing and engineering. It’s such a rad aspect of our industry that shouldn’t be understated. We are a community and everyone is always willing to lend some advice. I love it.

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