The New Lens Theisen Sees Beer Sales Through for R&D

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.

Matt Theisen, Director of Brewing Operations, R&D Brewing — Raleigh, North Carolina

BREWER: Why did you enter the craft beer industry and what makes you love being a part of it and staying in it?
THEISEN: I fell in love with craft beer in college after discovering beers like Sierra Nevada Pale and Delirium Tremens. There is such an incredible history and diversity in the beverage with new styles being added still. At that time a good friend had started home brewing so I would help out on brew days and I was hooked. I knew I wanted to be a part of this growing movement in a more impactful way. I love being a part of it mainly for the fact that it is a trade. It’s a scary and rewarding experience to actually make something tangible and put it out in the world. I also love how the craft beer community is collaborative and welcoming, it’s a great example of the expression, “a rising tide floats all boats.”

BREWER: What do you feel have been new challenges in your position since starting at R&D that have helped push you and make you better at your job?
THEISEN: Starting with a new company always has its own unique challenges but everyone at R&D has been super welcoming and I am backed by a team that isn’t afraid of hard work and has passion for what they do. I think maybe the biggest challenge is that I went from a 25-year-old established brewery with steady growth to a very young brewery experiencing explosive growth. It has required me to be nimble and creative in my problem solving approach in order to meet our needs. It actually reminds me of the San Diego craft beer landscape in the early 2010s.

READ MORE: R&D Selects Theisen as Director of Brewing Operations

BREWER: How did you formulate the types of breweries you wanted to work with and choose a brew scene that would be a fit for you? Why was the best fit R&D and the NC Triangle?
THEISEN: Personally I was looking to improve my quality of life by finding somewhere ideally less populated with a lower cost of living while not entirely abandoning the things that I loved about San Diego. From a professional perspective I wanted to be a part of a brewery making great beer while finding creative ways to grow their brand. Raleigh and R&D Brewing checked all those boxes. It has been a great move for me.

BREWER: What strategic growth opportunity do you feel is still “out there” for your company and how are you working on capitalizing on it next year?
THEISEN: R&D has been really strategic with our partnerships like Storm Brew, the beer we brew for the Carolina Hurricanes. We have a few “team beers” that we make and they have been great vehicles for reaching new customers who then go on to try our other brands like our flagship IPA, Seven Saturdays. I think it’s important to think beyond just the craft beer segment and consider your brand through the “lifestyle” lens. How do you reach new customers who maybe drink another brand or beverage entirely? We have found success through partnering with something else that interests them.

BREWER: If you had one business strategy that you could implement to better the brewing industry, what would it be?
THEISEN: Be authentic. The consumer is pretty savvy these days. Don’t do something just because you think it’s the “next thing” unless you personally believe in what you’re doing. When it’s genuine, that resonates through all aspects of the brand. R&D has built these partnerships with universities and sports brands because the employees of this company are actual fans and alumni of these institutions.

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