Last week, we learned that Deschutes Brewery was joining a lot of other famous names in beer by reducing its workforce. Not only that, but Deschutes’ Roanoke, Va., facility and brewery, in planning since at least 2016, seems to be limbo. We reached out to Deschutes to ask about these two developments and also what exciting things were planned for the future. Deschutes Brewery President and CEO Michael LaLonde shared this with us.
CBB: We noticed that Deschutes recently had some layoffs and has announced it was putting its Virginia brewery plans on hold for now. Sorry to hear that. I wanted to reach out to see the extent of the layoffs. How many folks? What types of positions?
LaLonde: Deschutes just had a reduction in workforce of about 10 percent of our employee base across sales, marketing and operations. This was a hard decision based on the brewery not seeing the business results that were expected over the last two years. This decision was extremely difficult to make, but necessary for the brewery given current craft beer market conditions and trends.
What stage is the Roanoke brewery at these days, and how will the company approach that plan in the future? Is there a timetable?
In regard to a production facility in Roanoke, at this time, we will continue to watch trends for the right time to build a facility in Roanoke. We don’t foresee breaking ground in 2019 as originally planned, but we will meet our commitments to let the city of Roanoke know our updated plans.
These are trepidatious times in the beer industry, but maybe we could also talk about the company’s positive future prospects going forward. What are you excited about?
Recent trends are looking much better, and we’re seeing positive results with our newest release, Fresh Haze IPA. We’re excited about our plans for innovation in 2019 and the launch of many new brands including Da Shootz!, a low calorie/low ABV American Lager, a sour series launching in cans this spring and a new IPA in the fall.