Cover Story Notebook: Branding vs. Volume

In an ongoing series, Brewer will take a small note from interviews of some of the cover stories it has run and give a small tidbit that didn’t make the issue but is still worth diving into.

Tampa Bay Brewing Company is a veteran brewery compared to most of the 8,000 craft breweries in the country. But in a sense, the brewery — although run by the same family since the start, has had two phases of its existence. Changing the public perception from “a restaurant that also makes beer” to “a local brewery” has taken time said David Doble, who now runs the place after helping work with his brother and mother in the 90s to get the brewery going.

In the March/April 2020 issue of Brewer, we will dive deeper into other aspects of the brewery’s switch from being more of a brewpub model to the now-production model and the rebranding of TBBC.

“I’d always just assumed as long as your beer was the highest quality beer, you can make everything else just kind of fall into place in a sense,” Doble said during the interview at the brewery in November, 2019. “But what I didn’t have my eye on is how we were still such a food-focused place. And once again, it wasn’t so much that we were trying to push that. It’s just that’s what we build. You know what I mean? And I really didn’t see it at the time.”

Mike Dyer became the brewery’s director of sales more than two years ago now and Doble said the one issue he had with his sales side is he wanted a very high-energy, professional team.

“But a lot of these guys came with very strong industry experience into the fold. And that experience varies from macro brands to distributors and so on,” he explained. “They were in such a mode of trying to sell beer and I was trying to break that and get them just to present beer and sell the brand.

“And it’s such a fine line.”

Doble explained that his sales staff would say if a keg is sold, it’s building the brand.

“Not necessarily,” he said. “If you’re trying to incentivize somebody to buy your beer, then they don’t really care. At the end of the day, does your brand really build or are you actually taking your brand down? You’ve got to sell your beer to people that actually care about your beer.”

As crowded as a brewery feels the on- and off-premise space, Doble still feels there still is organic growth left.

“If somebody says no, just say that’s fine. No problem. Walk out the door. Just go to the next door,” he said of what he wants his sales team to do now. “Just present us and the beers they can buy.

“Mike and I had a very intense talk over a period of time. I wanted a 100% shift. Everything that we do from this point on has to be brand growth. That’s it,” Doble said. “All we are is beer. We’re going to talk to people about beer and just focus on beer and our brand. It’s a simple, simple thing.

“Once we began to do that you could see the growth again, just starting to go through the roof. We’re finally seeing the culmination of that now.”

The brewery’s first foray outside of Florida was the Boston market, which will be explained more in the upcoming issue.

“We sent up 80 cases of beer,” Doble said. “They called us up and they ordered 800 cases. I laughed and I said, ‘No, I’m going to send you another 80 cases of beer.’ We’re not trying to move volume of beer out there. We’re very focused on brand.

“I’m really trying to just bring it back to a very pure-branding message. … Simple as that.”

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