Essential Hires That Comprise the Test Kitchen

Originally launching Abettor Brewing Company I had the vision that I would work behind the bar and hire a brewer to design recipes for the operation side.

The idea felt so simple being behind the bar with a laptop handling Brewer Magazine and pouring pints throughout the day.

I quickly realized this strategy could not work for a business I wanted to be more than just a “side hustle.”

Instead, my first full-time hire was a taproom manager. He handled hiring for the taproom, social media, food truck scheduling, band/artist booking, decor, and many other general operational needs.

Although I knew I needed this position to ensure the greatest success, my intention for a brewer simply wasn’t attractive to anyone outside of hobbyist homebrewers. Out of the gate, we were literally the smallest brewery I believe Kentucky has ever witnessed. Which is why I ended up shouldering the load of brewing.

Admittedly my knowledge of brewing wasn’t what it should have been, but I had been pouring in hours upon hours on the homebrew side and searching for real feedback. I knew the diversity I wanted and I simply had to grind on the new barrel and a half system to get recipes together.

Some recipes developed properly while others had issues that even my expertise couldn’t understand. I put myself through rigorous research and while I became very aware of the brewing experience I knew that we’d never grow without a better product.

Once we moved into our larger space and I got to selfishly enjoy brewing on our 10bbl system, I knew a head brewer was the next full-time move. I knew the position wouldn’t be cheap but I also knew that if we wanted to be able to maximize our new brewhouse we’d need to level up.

While I had never hired a head brewer before I had handled hiring for several companies prior. I knew the general questions and I knew what I wanted for Abettor’s culture.

In the early days “culture” was continuously at the top of every conversation. Each individual we hired, either part-time or full-time, had to mesh with the culture we’d developed/visioned.

Through networking, I found our current head brewer and the interviews began. I don’t make big decisions lightly and this period of interviewing lasted months — both over the phone, through email, and finally in person. In addition to wanting someone for our culture, I wanted someone that wanted to be part of our culture.

Following the hire of a head brewer and Abettor beer finally discovering its true play on words, we needed to develop a sales front. Admittedly this position was difficult. We made some mistakes but in doing so realized that we needed employees that were raving fans of the brand. That’s when we found our current sales hire — an individual who was once a “mug club member” and regular who truly had a passion for our business.

As we’ve grown, positions have needed a shift. Our taproom manager’s roles had become much more than they were in the beginning. We discussed how his time was managed and realized he was possessing two roles instead of just one. That tiny bit of communication helped us realize he was much stronger with back-of-house admin and event planning than allowing orders and taproom maintenance/staff hiring to take away from his strength.

In our last hire, we brought on a Bar Manager. This person handles the front-of-house tasks that our taproom manager handled previously. Rather than hiring for this position, we promoted from within. As we close in on five years it’s clear that we want employees that are raving fans of our brand — whether that’s a great employee or even a customer that will go above and beyond to help out in any way.

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