The Ethos that Robinson Has Carried Into WildEdge’s Values of Community

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.

Tucker Robinson, co-owner/ head brewer, WildEdge Brewing Collective — Cortez, Colorado

BREWER: What do you feel have been new challenges in your position that have helped push you and make you better at your job?
ROBINSON: As a small business owner/operator every day is a challenge! Every day brings a new set of problems to solve, obstacles to overcome, and creativity to be applied to our product creation and service. With the rise in prices of everything from ingredients to wages since the pandemic, we have had to get creative on ways to maintain our quality of product and service while figuring out ways to keep our costs from getting out of control. Given that we live in a remote corner of the state, shipping is something that gouges our bottom line. To try and counteract that we buy as many of our ingredients from within Colorado to try and keep those shipping costs down. We have also started buying everything — from grain to cans — in larger quantities to also save on shipping and get the individual unit prices down through quantity. This is a challenge for a very small brewery with limited storage space, but we figure out ways to make it work.

BREWER: Why did you enter the craft beer industry and what makes you love being a part of it and staying in it?
ROBINSON: I fell in love with the art and science of making beer as a home brewer and saw an opportunity in our small town to be able to share that love with the greater community. I have always loved the creative aspect of crafting beer utilizing different, and sometimes unique, ingredients to create something that is truly one of a kind. Being able to have a space to build community around the beers that I make is what keeps me in the game. My whole adult life I have been a proponent of using and appreciating locally made products. That ethos has carried into my values around crafting beer. Being able to support the local and regional economy by utilizing local hops from Billy Goat Hop Farm and malt from Root Shoot Malting, Colorado Malting Company, and Proximity Malt is wonderful, and I really love how it gives our beers a sense of place. The hops and malt that we get are unique in their characteristics given that they were grown in Colorado. Those characteristics, though sometimes small, really make for a special product that you can only get if you use ingredients that are grown in our state, at elevation, and in an arid climate.

BREWER: What are some recent trends in brewing that you’ve tried or are excited about trying?
ROBINSON: I don’t know if it is a trend in brewing, but with all the talk about AI (Artificial Intelligence) these days I have a beer in the tank that was designed by AI; recipe, label, marketing material. Thought it was a fun experiment to try! AI isn’t going to take over brewing any time soon, but the beer is tasting great so far!

BREWER: What was your business’s greatest accomplishment during the past year, and what are your goals for your brewery this year?
ROBINSON: Honestly our biggest accomplishment is that we are still here after the last few years we have had. Running a small business in a small town has a myriad of baseline challenges all of which have been amplified over the past few years. That being said, I can attribute our continued existence to our wonderful local customers who have adopted us as their home base in Cortez. Creating a warm and inviting community space was the goal of WildEdge from the get go, and it continues to be what I am most proud of.

BREWER: What are some changes in the industry that you’ve observed in the past few years, and how has your business adapted to stay competitive?
ROBINSON: Obviously COVID had huge implications on the beer industry, one of which was an increase in out-the-door sales. In reaction to this, we invested in a Gosling canning line from Wild Goose Canning. Once we finally got our canning system up and running we were able to improve the quality, and shelf life of our product for people who were grabbing a four-pack or two to go. Having quality can packaging has also allowed us to expand our wholesale into other businesses that don’t have open draft lines.

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