How Checkerspot Plans to Capitalize on Samuel Adams’ Experienceship Win

National Craft Beer Day hosted by Samuel Adams’ philanthropic program, Brewing The American Dream.

This is a part of a continuing series of Q&As with members of the brewing community from across the US.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.

Judy Neff, Owner​/​Brewer​, Checkerspot Brewing — ​Baltimore

​BREWER: ​Why did you enter the craft beer industry and what makes you love being a part of it and staying in it?
​NEFF: ​I went on a tour of Anchor Brewing Company 17 years ago and was so inspired that I started homebrewing. That turned from a hobby into a passion and the rest is history. I love being a part of this industry because of the supportive and collaborative craft beer community and the ability to “give back” and support local nonprofits and community groups through beer.

​BREWER: ​How has the definition of growth for your company evolved and how have you adjusted to be successful in that new definition?
NEFF: At the beginning, we were just putting one foot in front of the other. We have slowly grown over the last ​four years, and to me, success is being able to have and employ even more amazing staff, still love what I do, and have an even stronger relationship doing this together with my partner and husband, Rob. We just purchased a property, so the ability to grow even more can now become a reality.

​BREWER: ​What did being a part of Samuel Adams’ “Brewing the American Dream” do this year for your company?
​NEFF: We just got back from the Great American Beer Festival, where our win was announced and we got to make amazing connections. Over the next few weeks, we will be able to start to really take advantage of the mentorship opportunities through the program and start to discuss our future collaboration beer.

​BREWER: ​What important aspects did you guys have to hone in on to polish your application and story and how did that translate back into the business in solidifying your day-in and day-out practices?
NEFF: I would say nothing — our story was genuine, who we are inside and out, and the Sam Adams panel saw that. They also saw that where we are now in our growth is an ideal time to have the opportunity to really take advantage of their mentorship for future success.

​BREWER: ​What strategic growth opportunity do you feel is still “out there” for your brand and how are you working on capitalizing on it this year? How has this changed since winning this event with Samuel Adams?
NEFF: I feel that getting our name out there in a bigger way, so people can try our beer is a big opportunity that we’d like to focus on. Marketing is something we’ve been lacking. This is just one example of how the mentorship arm of the Brewing the American Dream Brewer’s Experienceship can help us grow and achieve this goal.

​BREWER: ​If you had one business strategy that you could implement to better the brewing industry, what would it be?
NEFF: Get involved with the National Brewer’s Association or your local Brewer’s Association or guild. Everyone needs to participate in improving the laws to better the industry as a whole and not sit by while others do the work and benefit without contributing. We are a special community that works together, so let’s keep it that way!

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