These Lessons Have Helped Salvatore Better His Weaknesses at Dockside

Photo courtesy Dockside Brewery

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.

Dylan Salvatore, Head Brewer, Dockside Brewery — Milford, Connecticut

BREWER: How have recent challenges in your position helped make you better? What were those “pain points” and how did you solve or adjust to the issue?
SALVATORE: Equipment breakdowns for sure. The amount I’ve learned over the past year about equipment and unique workarounds has been painful but necessary. This has also helped me develop relationships with techs and manufacturers and learn their language. It really has shown me where I’m worth my salt and where I need to improve. 

BREWER: What has been your brewery’s most recent accomplishment and how is it going to improve your business going forward?
SALVATORE: Bringing more technical brewing practices in like Step Mashing and Decoction while simultaneously increasing tank turnaround and yields. This has opened us up to not only increasing our quality but also our volume so we have space to dive deeper on some projects that need the extra time and attention.

BREWER: How did you start in the industry and why do you still want to be a part of it?
SALVATORE: Before I entered craft beer I was in the Navy. I was fortunate enough to spend three years of my military career traveling Europe and fell in love with beer. When I was coming to the end of my contract I decided to pursue a career as a Brewer. I spent my last few days in the Navy working as an intern on a canning line. It was a good transition for me. The tight order and attention to detail of a brewery was familiar and the looseness of the brewer personality gave me room to be myself. I stay in this industry because I love it. The comradery and mutual respect among brewers made me feel at home after my service. I couldn’t imagine myself not being surrounded by that. 

BREWER: What are you sippin’ on right now from your brewery that you really enjoy?
SALVATORE: All of our lagers. I can’t get enough of them and they keep getting better. 

BREWER: Be it in styles, ingredients, business strategies or sales & marketing techniques, what are some recent industry trends that you’ve tried or are excited about trying this year?
SALVATORE: I feel sinful for saying this and I’m sure a few people in the industry will roll their eyes, but Hop Water. I love beer but I do just like making tasty beverages overall. It will be interesting to see where it goes and what Dockside will be able to do with them. 

BREWER: What are some adaptations to business practices in the industry that you’ve observed over these past few years, and how has your brewery adjusted to stay competitive?
SALVATORE: Being versed and versatile. Be ready to pivot to new market trends. Which isn’t unique to our industry, all businesses should strive to change over time. There are so many beverage alternatives out there and there are more to come. I think too many brewers don’t embrace this and are fighting it. Dockside is the opposite, we will try our hand at anything and we strive to be experts in it. Nick (Russell) and I will play with anything to get inspiration; Cocktails, Seltzers, Hop Water, weird ingredient infusions, and even Kombucha now. Everyone wants their “lighting in a bottle” but don’t realize it takes time and effort to actually get the lightning in there. Always learn and experiment and you’ll eventually have so many tools at your disposal that you can pivot in any direction.  

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