What Excites Hawkins about New Role With Mother Road

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.

Zack Hawkins, Brewery Manager, Mother Road Brewing Company — Flagstaff, Arizona

BREWER: What do you feel have been new challenges in your position that have helped push you and make you better at your job?
HAWKINS: Coming into this new position with Mother Road, I’ve been pushed to incorporate with partners and the systems that make our company successful. Adjusting to a larger production facility with more players has involved quickly learning to coordinate and collaborate with other leaders in the brewery to ensure positive outcomes. 

BREWER: Why did you enter the craft beer industry and what makes you love being a part of it and staying in it?
HAWKINS: Brewing presented an exciting field to explore practical applications of my chemistry education. My love of benchtop chemistry with its requirements of analytical thinking and creative problem solving evolved into a passion for making beer as I first became involved in the industry and learned what the work was really like. Those same demands keep me on my toes and working on new projects to this day. 

BREWER: What are some recent trends in brewing that you’ve tried or are excited about trying?
HAWKINS: Recently I was brewing a variety of trending beer styles — heavily adjuncted imperial stouts, smoothie sours, IPAs with thiolized yeast. All of those trends were interesting in their own way, providing new opportunities for production techniques and potential flavors. Currently I’m excited by the trend of consumers asking for — and purchasing! — more “old school” styles of beer. Getting back to our roots as an industry is very rewarding and I’ve yet to meet a brewer who’s upset to be brewing a crisp lager.

BREWER: What was your business’s greatest accomplishment during the past year, and what are your goals for your brewery this year?
HAWKINS: From my perspective, Mother Road’s best accomplishment last year was bringing new brands to market giving us an expanded portfolio to proactively reach new audiences and give our loyal customers more choice. For the next year, our goals are volume growth while maintaining or improving quality and greater efficiency throughout the brewery — continuous improvement is the name of the game.

BREWER: What are some changes in the industry that you’ve observed in the past few years, and what are some adjustments you’ve made to stay competitive?
HAWKINS: One of the biggest changes I’ve seen industry wide is the continuing professionalization of craft beer. So many more brewers, managers, and owners are highly educated in relevant fields than they were when I was getting my start. For my part, I’ve pursued continuing education in various areas such as IBD certification and Lean Six Sigma to make sure I’m contributing the best, most current knowledge and experience.

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