How do breweries attract top talent to the beer industry? By looking outside the industry. From accounting to logistics, packaging, and administration, trying to catch folks who are a perfect fit but might not know about beer.
Exploring various ways that breweries can deploy outside services to better their business practices.
Ollie enables brewers to better manage brewery production, customer relationships, order processing, inventory, payments, and reporting in a single platform.
It’s a little ridiculous all the hats a brewery owner has to wear just to keep their business going. Even before you first fire up the brewing system, you have to make hundreds of decisions, small and large. The initial planning stages can take months if not years, with questions about location, type of building and zoning restrictions, negotiating the lease, dealing with demo or build out, meeting electrical and plumbing codes, and then tap room design, managing employees, among dozens more topics, all before a single drop of beer is poured. Whether you’re only thinking about getting into the business or have been in operation for years, there is value in seeking out professional advice from brewery consultants.
The last several years have taken a toll on everyone. The pandemic stressed out and stretched people thin. Unrest at home and around the world bombards news feeds, and economic factors are constantly top of mind. There is a lot of worry to go around, but often it feels like a personal burden.
For those in the hospitality industry, especially those who work around alcohol, there can be added pressures.
Building something takes time. Maintaining it takes effort. The past five years in the craft beer industry have been tumultuous, filled with constant challenges. Some have been unexpected, others long in the making. In response to societal changes and demands, the craft beer industry finally took a long overdue look at its hiring, consumer, and business practices and appeared to decide to take action. But as with many cultural movements inspired by current events and popular demands, sustaining that momentum into the future and to a point of real, consequential change requires attention and dedication.
Over the past several years, many breweries have reconsidered their service models – searching for the delicate balance that best maximizes the experience for both guests and staff. In doing so, this has also generated more conversations about best practices regarding tipping. In this panel, we will discuss different tipping models, their benefits, their challenges, and how conversations on tipping can result in greater success for your taproom.
For many, the idea of owning a business is part of the American dream and there are thousands of examples of that in the country’s small breweries. There are times when founders and owners want to add new people to the mix and considering bringing on existing employees as owners can have a lot of benefits.
Separate from establishing an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) where multiple employees have a stake in the company, finding a single employee who wants to take on an ownership role that can benefit the overall company can be a smart move, says Erik C. Coleman, a beer industry consultant and the director of the Trocaire College Brewing Distillation and Fermentation Program.
The small business survival rate can be terrifying to people contemplating opening their own shop. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately 20 percent of small businesses in this country fail within their first year of operation. By the end of year five, half have closed. And these stats were before the pandemic took its toll on already strained businesses.
In the early days of the pandemic, we heard that hundreds or thousands of breweries might close in the United States. Thankfully, that prediction has not come to pass but many beer related businesses have closed while many others contemplate the possibility. For businesses that close, they may have suffered from a sudden downturn in consumer demand for their products or been crushed by substantial cash flow problems. Whatever the reason, breweries that are considering closing can’t just shut the doors and walk away. Closing up a business can take months of work and there needs to be a plan for winding down the business.
As the brewing industry grows and becomes more competitive, brewing companies need to make sure they are offering competitive salaries and benefits to recruit and keep top talent. Sean O’Keefe, the CEO and co-owner of Pontoon Brewing in Sandy Springs, Georgia spoke with Beer Edge editor John Holl about his brewery’s approach to employee compensation.
Let’s be honest, absolutely no one enjoys dealing with insurance issues. In the best of times, insurance can seem like a pricey extravagance, a hedge against some hypothetical crisis that will likely never appear. And every year when it comes time to renew your coverage, the irritating process starts all over again.
There’s at least one person who loves talking about insurance, especially when it comes to brewery insurance. Peter Whelan of Whalen Insurance in Northampton, Massachusetts, didn’t invent brewery insurance but he has been in the business about as long as anyone. Brewery insurance used to be “damn near impossible back in the late ‘80s,” he notes. But as Whelan was getting ready to enter the insurance trade, he knew he needed to specialize in specific market segments. So when Janet and Peter Egelston opened the Northampton Brewery in 1987, Whelan helped insure their operation. From there, Whelan helped the then titled Association of Brewers develop its insurance program for the industry. Now he has advice for brewers looking to insure their operations or just review their policies.
A goal of brewery owners should be to focus not only on making great beer, but providing a workplace environment that values employees, fosters careers, and seeks to keep the calm and peace. That can be easier said than done in a high-pressure environment that touches on many different skillsets but there are ways to achieve a positive workplace beyond just paying a fair salary.
“I always impress upon people who want to get into the industry that you do this for love, not money,” says Erik C. Coleman, the owner of Beer By Coleman, a consultancy company. “You’ll never get rich unless you’re an owner but there is camaraderie, it’s a brotherhood and a sisterhood and it can be really rewarding to be involved with.”
When the time to retire arrives and the conditions are right, a brewery owner must decide what to do with the company. In some cases they can simply decide to close the doors, sell the equipment and walk away, living happily in consumers’ minds as a memory. In other instances a decision is made to sell the business.
There are options but the plan to an eventual sale should be a long process in an owner’s mind, thinking about what they would like to see the business become and who will be at the reins. Three possible paths for finding a suitable new owner are a generational sale, creating an employee stock ownership plan, or selling to an outside company or individual.
Jason Sleeman, the Vice President for Craft Beverage Lending at United Community Bank in Woodstock, Georgia spoke with Beer Edge editor John Holl about the three options.
DEI: Closing the Gender Gap in Beer – an Interview with Deborah Brenner of Women of the Vine & Spirits
There are a lot of conversations that focus on closing the gender gap in the beer industry and actionable steps have been made in recent years, but more work needs to be done. It is not as simple as simply offering jobs to women. There are rooted problems in the beer industry that need to be addressed to make companies responsible employers and to set a culture that fosters inclusivity.
Beer Edge editor John Holl spoke with Deborah Brenner, founder & CEO of Women of the Vine & Spirits about initiatives and actions companies in the beverage alcohol industry can take to be more inclusive and responsible.
With nearly 10,000 breweries operating in the United States, and countless beer brands available, trying to come up with an original beer name has never been more challenging. Knowing some basics about trademark law and how to protect your brands is no longer the province solely of larger breweries but all craft brewers.
Attorney Mark Traphagen agrees and sees an inevitable increase coming in the number of such disputes. “I think it’s becoming a crowded field and when a field is crowded, it’s always more likely that there’s going to be some sort of conflict between brand names, product names, and other trademarks,” he notes. Traphagen previously worked as an attorney at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the federal agency tasked with handling trademark registration for products and intellectual property identifications. Attorney Traphagen walks us through some basics of trademark law.