How Burbank Adjusts Flix Production Schedule to Hollywood

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.

Wes Burbank, Head Brewer, Flix Brewhouse — San Antonio

BREWER: What do you feel have been new challenges in your position that have helped push you and make you better at your job?
BURBANK: I think the biggest challenge was just having to in some ways re-learn the business since I started working for Flix Brewhouse. We are a unique concept in that in addition to being a brewery, we are also a restaurant and high-end movie theater, so I now plan production schedules around movie releases. I definitely feel like I have a better handle on managing and planning ahead and being able to see the big picture, as movie schedules are usually planned out so far in advance. It’s also been really nice having such a diverse group of guests coming through our doors, that we need to have more types of beers on besides IPAs and sours. 

BREWER: Why did you enter the craft beer industry and what makes you love being a part of it and staying in it?
BURBANK: Growing up in Colorado definitely helped me get into craft beer. Twenty years ago, my best friend was going to college at Colorado State in Ft. Collins, right when Odell and New Belgium were both exploding in popularity. When I would go up to visit we would go to these breweries and just fell in love with it. I love the marriage of art and science that goes into making beer. All these years later we are both still working in breweries! I don’t get to do it as often as I’d like these days, but I still love being on the brew deck making beer. I love the process, the repetition, the refinement, and the feeling of putting in a good day of work and getting a beer in the pub after and talking with guests and sharing my passion for beer with people. 

BREWER: What are some recent trends in brewing that you’ve tried or are excited about trying?
BURBANK: I’m really excited to see what the next year looks like with thiolized yeast strains. We have been playing around a little bit at Flix with it, and I look forward to continuing that throughout 2023. There seems to be a lot of potential for new flavor profiles that we haven’t really seen before, particularly in trying some of the strains out with styles that aren’t as hop-forward. I’m also really looking forward to all the new hop products that are coming out lately for whirlpool and dry hopping to try to maximize hop flavors and aromas without obliterating yields. Given the rising prices of everything, if we can find ways to make great IPAs with either better yields or without dumping box after box of hops into a tank sounds like a great idea to me. 

BREWER: What was your business’s greatest accomplishment during the past year, and what are your goals for your brewery this year?
BURBANK: Our locations saw tremendous growth in 2022, a great relief after movie going took a significant hit during the pandemic. Our San Antonio location saw a 63% increase in production from December 2021 to December 2022. And we’re just getting started. This past year, we were also honored with a handful of medals GABF, US Open Beer Championship, and were named Indiana Brewery of the Year. We’re living proof that a cinema brewery can indeed make incredible beer. We’ll build on these successes by increasing production and expanding the Flix Brewhouse business by 20% in 2023. It’s going to be a great year at the movies.

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?
BURBANK: We’ve seen a significant shift to local brewery ops in the past few years. We shouldn’t see many large production breweries coming up like we used to. There’s a rise in small neighborhood breweries/pubs, and we’ll keep seeing this. From a brewer’s perspective, I’ve also seen more focus on utilizing local ingredients, which has a lot of benefits, especially with recent supply-chain issues. I much prefer getting specialty grains and hard-to-find ingredients from our local malthouse. We take the same approach in our programming as well. As noted, we have a unique model at Flix Brewhouse that relies on outside factors, like the Hollywood film schedule. Sometimes we have ‘blockbusters’ coming through our doors, and other times we don’t. That’s why we’re focused on curating specialty events like all-inclusive beer dinners paired with a fan-favorite throwback film. We take great pride in providing exceptional beers, food, and customer service, so our guests leave our building with a memorable night out at their local brewhouse.

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