​Post-Pandemic Business Pivots to Consider

Life is different now and planning your brewery going forward for growth is going to change. Brewer asked experts in the brewing industry what they see as some aspects of how they plan to alter what their brewery will be like going forward.​

“For me, the pandemic was an eye-opening experience when it comes to the people I call my co-workers​,” said AleSmith President Brandon Richards. ​”​We have a great foundation in our team that positions us for taking on growth.

​”​The pandemic also forced us to accelerate our growth plans in the off-premise, and as a result, we’ve made sustainable off-premise growth our key driver, along with building out our direct-to-beer-drinker platform.”

​Consumers have done a lot of introspection over the last year​ and a half, believes MadTree co-founder Brady Duncan.

​”​While I don’t know that we are seeing seismic shifts in how they enjoy beer and buy alcohol, I think they are a bit more choosy in what they spend on​,” he said. ​”​Stressors like a pandemic cause many of us to rethink what is truly important.

​”​We believe we are building a brand that is truly important to the fabric of our community.​”​

​Duncan said part of consumer choosiness is the ability to order from home and receive it. Urban Artifact‘s Bret Kollmann Baker​ agrees.

​”​DtC is going to become a norm for breweries, much like it has been for wineries,” he said. “I expect there to become a new wave of sustainably small breweries that focus exclusively online and direct-to-consumer.

He noted that a brewery like California’s Private Press led by former Jackie O’s Brewing Ops Manager Brad Clark is a great example of what he expects things to come.

READ MORE: Podcast Episode 22 – Interview with Brad Clark, Director of Brewing Operations at Jackie O’s

“For us, with our size, we want to leverage our online store more and continue to grow that for our consumers,” Baker said.

Additionally, tools like DSD Link where retailers and distributors have an online portal to buy beer directly without having to go through a sales rep is going to become much more important for any distributing brewery​, he theorized.​

​Short’s had to pivot several times during the pandemic​ and CFO Rachel Brege said the Michigan brewery delivered beer​ and started a packaged food product line.

​”​We also simplified our food menu and increased the production of larger package formats​, ​like 12 packs​,” she said. “We were very event heavy in the past, and are still evaluating what that means for our future.​”

​For now, Short’s has shuffled floor plans to accommodate fewer diners, moving ​its company store to a larger space​ to help in increased takeout volume and ​creating a space for dedicated private events​ while opening a second location with ​lots of outdoor space in the middle of the pandemic.

​Brady noted that ​the ​core values​ and ​behaviors at MadTree are ​to ​connect, grow​, “and give a fuck.​”​

​”​Everything we do filters through this lens and our consumers recognize that​,” Brady said. ​”​They see it when we are out in the community volunteering​ — ​every employee is paid and expected to volunteer 16 hours a year.

​”​They see it in our 1% for the Planet commitment. They see it when they walk into our spaces — and how intentional we are about curating their experience. And they see it in the investments we continue to make in crafting the best beers, ciders, and cocktails we possibly can.​”​

Photo courtesy AleSmith Brewing

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