For Newer Brewery, Honing Story Helps Educate Consumers

Being a part of more and more people’s adventures is what is key for Kevin McGillen. The COO for Forbidden Root Brewing, a Chicago-area brewpub, wants to help lend complexity and depth to adventures and storytelling he told Brewer when asked what 2018 means to him with his newly acquired position.

“On one level, people are going to experience our beer for what it is on the surface: delicious,” said McGillen, the former Vice President of Operations at Two Brothers Brewing who joined Forbidden Root in December of 2017. “Beyond that, though is where we think consumers make their buying decisions. We want people to know and understand the story of our beers – why we married these particular ingredients during which process and ultimately, why it might matter to them in the end.

“We are relentless in our pursuit of flavor, and we think consumers are too – our eyes and ears are open.”

McGillen said the brewery’s growth, both in distribution and in the restaurant, is a direct reflection of consumers engaging with the Forbidden Root brand as means to an end and not just the end.  “Consumers that drive growth for our brand are those that seek adventure and experience in the first place,” he said. “They find our relentless pursuit of flavor through ingredients and process complimentary to their own pursuit of great experiences.

“We’ve innovated flavors ranging from Cherrytree Amaro to Strawberry Basil, to bio-transformed New England IPAs.”

One of Forbidden Roots initiatives right now is to set the conditions properly for its partners to have the best possible beer experience available to them.

“One important process we are developing is good communication channels with all of our partners — vendors, distributors, retailers and consumers,” McGillen said. “We want our partners to count on a consistently great experience with Forbidden Root; understanding clearly their voice allows us to buy better ingredients, brew better beer and distribute to our partners more consistently.

“I believe that unifying and incorporating our diversity of thought, skills and background to achieve consumer delight is what perhaps my background can do to help to shape things for the future. We just need to make sure we are talking AND listening.”

McGillen noted that the philosophy on growth at this early stage of the brewery is to simply expose people to Forbidden Root.

“We believe once consumers get to know and understand why we do what we do – they’ll continue to bring us along with them as they experience life,” he said. “We hope they will expose their like-minded friends to their shared experience with us and continue to drive Forbidden Root growth organically from a consumer “pull” perspective.”

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