The 2 Ideals Device Sticks With to Stay Relevant

Ken Anthony likes to stay realistic in being a 10-year-old company now. That means relying on two fundamentals.

“We’re not the shiny new object that just opened and that everyone’s gonna go check out,” said the owner of Device Brewing in Sacramento. Anthony shared his thoughts earlier this spring to Brewer for a Last Pint feature that will be in the July/August print edition, which will be in mailboxes soon.

“Over these 10 years I’ve seen three dozen breweries be that shiny new object and they all have their time and then the consumer moves on,” Anthony said. “They’re (customers) nomadic and they move on to the next shiny new object. One of our pillars is quality and consistency.”

Those ideals are something that no matter what kind of beer they are brewing, it matters.

“No matter if we get into any other market sector within our license, we will always be focusing on quality and consistency,” Anthony said. “Because if we don’t do that when the shine wears off, you’ve got to be able to retain your customer base. Not being the new hot brewery in the area — we’re a well-established well-known brand — but people do associate us with quality. There’s no question about that. I’ve talked to so many people over the years. And one comment I’ve heard over and over again is: ‘You guys, it’s always good. It’s never hit or miss.’

“Even if you make an IPA, that’s not their favorite IPA, it’s still a well-made IPA. That’s the recipe, that’s not execution.”

He did note that they certainly are threatened by that stigma of being an ‘Oh, yeah, they’ve been around for a while,’ kind of brewery. So that means staying relevant does matter.

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Starting in 2013 in an area with very few breweries like Sacramento, it was almost too easy to capture sales in the first two years or so, he said.

“Then … more and more breweries are opening up which, of course, spreads out the consumer,” Anthony said. “That’s totally understandable. And it is what it is. So you need to work a little harder for those customers.”

That means finding collaborations with breweries that excite local consumers. Making those collab beers are more than just for consumers though as they help develop rapport with other breweries and create better connections.

“I think this year we’re probably going to start spending a little bit more time focusing on collaboration beers,” he said.

One-offs can be a challenge at times for Device, because of the volume of beer they produce for six distributors, Anthony said.

“We are in 42 California counties, it’s a lot of space. If you dropped that on the Eastern Seaboard, it’d be several states,” he said. “So when we produce so much volume for our distributors, that leaves a little slice of bandwidth for one-offs, but we just force ourselves to make sure we get those on the schedule, try out different hops, different concepts that keep the consumer interested.”

Photo courtesy Device Brewing

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