How Wiseacre Created Its Beer Culture

Courtesy Wiseacre Brewing

For a brewery like Wiseacre — which was the cover story feature in the March/April print issue of Brewer this year — growing a brewery also meant building a brewery culture in Memphis.

To start, brothers Davin and Kellan Bartosch used connections they had built while working in the craft beer industry in other places to help establish a good brewery culture. Since they have made efforts to not just bring in great staff but to also make craft beer fans in the area.

“A lot of the early production hires were folks that Davin had worked with or knew from school, and they came in because of the experience they could bring to things,” said COO Amanda Thompson. “But that’s something that has definitely evolved over time.”

Although they have been able to bring in folks that have some experience — at smaller or different breweries — Thompson said they have also brought folks in without experience or with related experience to help diversify the employee pool. 

“We’ve had people come in on our production team that have lab experience and quality control, but not necessarily within this industry,” she said. Kellan added that one employee in QA came from yogurt while a salesperson came from wine with no beer knowledge. “Within the taproom, we bring in bartenders who are experienced bartenders but we also bring in teachers who are looking to pick up a part-time job over the summer and have never poured a beer in their life.” 

Wiseacre wants to provide a lot of the education that they want their team to have about their products. 

“We used to spend a lot more time focused on beer education for our staff and for the community at large,” Thompson said, especially since it was true before the pandemic, but that has rebounded as of late and opt to bring people together in a way that’s focused on that education and trying to build a knowledge base.

READ MORE: As Wiseacre Grows, Thompson Assumes Role as COO

Even Kellan said Thompson, who began in the taproom as a way of returning to the workforce after the birth of her two children and has now risen to her role as COO, didn’t even get the job she first interviewed for. 

“But we all sat around — my brother and I and our partner — and just said we need to hire her because she just needs to be here,” Bartosch said. “She’s talented and hardworking and curious.” 

Wiseacre is always vetting for curiosity and work ethic, Thompson said.

“That is the core focus when it comes to hiring for us,” she said. “We do wear a lot of hats. We still run fairly lean for the size of production that we do in terms of our staffing. To do that you have to have people that are curious and willing to come in and stay in their lane when they need to but also be willing to veer outside of it when opportunities arise and to cross training and learn about different aspects of the business. And grow within that process.”

In hiring for a key role, Thompson said they will have an initial phone screen and then usually one or two interviews for most full-time positions. 

“We try to keep the questions a mix of process and job-oriented,” she said. “And also, fun questions about favorite childhood memories and experiences that are pivotal, not just to the work people are going to do, but to who they are, at their core. 

“I don’t know that there’s a clear answer for it other than we try to keep a pretty open mind about the different types of people that we’re bringing in and try to give them as much opportunity to get to know us during the interview process as for us to get to know them, because it’s gotta be a fit for them. 

“And when we find that we’re a fit for people, it often works the other way around.”

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