Behind every beer brand you drink is an impressive team of beer professionals — brewers, barkeeps, bussers, canners, sales reps, lab techs and everyone from marketing and HR teams to warehouse and restaurant workers. “Beer professional” encapsulates a wide variety of jobs and skill sets, and breweries are constantly making moves to secure great employees and industry leaders. Oftentimes, it’s not even a beer pro, but a food or technology wiz that’s needed. Craft breweries and their suppliers and trade associations have many facets and require specialized employees. Here are a few of the big personnel headlines from the craft brewing industry in the last month plus. Send your beer pro news to [email protected].
Colorado’s Dry Dock Brewing hires Ryan Call as new director of sales
Dry Dock Brewing Co. has hired Ryan Call to serve as the brewery’s director of sales. Call will oversee all sales operations for Dry Dock and head up efforts with its national accounts in Colorado, where Dry Dock sells all of its beer. Prior to joining up with Dry Dock (the state’s sixth-largest craft brewer), Call served nine years with Left Hand Brewing Co. (Longmont, Colo.), where he served as western regional manager and handled the brewery’s key national accounts and on-premise accounts in 47 states.
“Ryan has a wealth of knowledge about Colorado’s craft beer market,” said Michelle Reding, who cofounded Dry Dock in 2005 with Kevin DeLange. “He also has deep experience working with national chains and out-of-state distributors. His expertise will be very valuable with our supermarket chains and in new states if we decide to send our beer to other markets.”
“This is a great opportunity for me,” Call said of his new position with Dry Dock. “The brewery makes world-class beer and has done a ton of great things in its 15 years. I think we’re on the cusp of doing more great things and I want to help make that progress happen. I like that our flagship is not an IPA,” he adds. “That creates a lot of opportunities and some fun challenges, and I’m a competitive person who loves to overcome obstacles.”
Portland’s Ecliptic Brewing announces Kelly Weiss as new executive chef
Ecliptic Brewing recently announced the addition of its new Executive Chef Kelly Weiss. Weiss has an abundance of kitchen experience, and the company is excited to continue expanding its culinary efforts with its elevated brewery fare. Weiss’ early roles include stops at popular Portland brunch spots Chez What? and Gravy. He’s also worked at Castagna under chefs with impressive resumes from Olympia Provisions, Clyde Common, and Bar Casa Vale. This experience proved to form the foundation of Weiss’ culinary philosophy. From Castagna, he secured a position at the Farm Café, which was one of the newer venues in Portland’s burgeoning local and sustainable food scene.
Said Weiss: “For the next decade, I was able to work with Oregon’s best producers and truly refine my culinary identity through seasonal menus, utilizing the best ingredients available. This time was my greatest development opportunity, as it allowed the practice of critical skills, including large and small animal butchery, whole fish preparation, and fermenting.”
After the Farm Cafe closure, Weiss sought fresh challenges as a member of the opening management team at Afuri. In its first six months, Afuri was celebrated as one America’s 50 best restaurants in Bon Appetit magazine. His last stop before landing at Ecliptic was at private club with Former Michelin Chef Nadav Bashan (Michael’s and Providence).
Ecliptic’s Owner and Brewmaster John Harris noted: “Having a menu that offered elevated food in a brewpub atmosphere was important to me. I didn’t want standard pub fare. I wanted a menu that changed every six weeks, celebrating the seasonal ingredients from our community, as we make our yearly circle around the sun. We’re excited to have Kelly on board to help us continue and expand on this vision.”
Weiss’ first menu with Ecliptic Brewing debuts September 23 and will focus on seasonality, bridging the late summer warmth and early fall chill with balanced plates of local vegetables and protein.
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Willie’s Superbrew hires Ex-New Belgium CMO Greg Owsley as chief brand officer
Willie’s Superbrew, the hard seltzer blended with real fruit, has hired Greg Owsley, president at The Storied Brand, as its first-ever chief brand officer. A seasoned veteran in the alcohol industry, Owsley stewarded the New Belgium Brewing Co. brand from 30,000 to 750,000 barrels annually. With The Storied Brand, he has built multiple successful brand growth strategies including those behind 805 Beer, Firestone Walker, Tröegs, Pabst, Stumptown Coffee, and Revive Kombucha.
The move signals Willie’s Superbrew’s increasing commitment to marketing amid growth and expansion down the east coast. Chief among Greg’s responsibilities is leading Willie’s Superbrew’s rebrand, which will launch in the new year.
“Since the early 90s, I’ve been captaining brands in this marketplace, which just seems to become more crowded daily. So, discovering one with as much blue ocean potential as Willie’s Superbrew seriously turned my head. The chance to rewrite what a hard seltzer can stand for? Plus, work for a company committed to being a force for good? Sign me on,” said Owsley.
“We knew it was the right time to invest in our brand and when I started talking to Greg, he immediately saw why we were different from all of the other hard seltzers in the space. To have someone who cut their teeth at New Belgium see our potential and want to work with us, it’s huge,” said CEO and Cofounder Nico Enriquez. The rebrand, which features a new retro hand-drawn wordmark and real fruit hues, will roll out in stores in February 2022.
While this will be Willie’s Superbrew’s first major rebrand, Owsley and his agency, The Storied Brand, have a proven track record having led more than 20 major rebrands. Their approach, driven by deep consumer and cultural insights, revealed the potential of Willie’s Superbrew to break free of the crowded and competitive market. “The seltzer category is drowning in sameness, but our research revealed Willie’s has a very scalable consumer culture target unto itself, one the rest of hard seltzer won’t be able to touch,” says Owsley. The key, according to Owsley, is focusing on the soul of the brand, particularly the unique ‘surfer meets goat farmer’ origin story, the pounds of real fruit used to brew, and the brand’s commitment to sustainability with its beach cleanups. Just this year, Willie’s Superbrew has organized cleanups covering New Jersey, Long Island, and Massachusetts. The brand plans to increase its investment in cleanups down the east coast.
“Seltzer is no different than other categories I’ve worked in. Product, branding, and marketing conventions are quick to develop because most marketers play it safe and follow the leader. We’re doing the opposite, and we’re doing it in our own way,” said Owsley.
NBWA announces new Chairman of the Board Peter Heimark
At the National Beer Wholesalers Association‘s (NBWA’s) 84th Annual Convention and Trade Show at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas in early October, NBWA President and CEO Craig Purser and outgoing Chairman of the Board Patrick Blach introduced Peter Heimark as the organization’s new chairman of the board.
“Peter’s two decades of experience serving the beer distribution industry in southern California will be especially valuable as he helps lead this industry forward over the next year,” said Craig Purser, president and CEO of NBWA. “Peter’s expertise and insights have already served NBWA well as an active member and Vice-Chairman. We welcome his leadership during such a crucial time for the industry.”
During his remarks, Heimark discussed his deep roots in the beer distribution business and spoke about the resilience of the industry throughout the pandemic, highlighting distributors’ role as essential businesses and their commitment to local communities.
“I was pretty much born to this business — third generation, going to the warehouse with my dad on Saturdays as a kid and vacationing around conventions just like this one. I am extremely honored to be your new Chairman, particularly at such a pivotal moment for our industry,” said Peter Heimark, president of Heimark Distributing. “Despite all the special interests that want to see us fail, we’re still here, and we continue to show we’re essential. Because we do what we always do — we get to work, we figure it out no matter the challenge and we get the job done.”
Hailing from Indio, Calif, Heimark has served as the president of Heimark Distributing since August of 2020. Previously, he worked at Triangle Distributing Co., Heimark Distributing’s former sister company where he served in nearly every role before being named president in 2003. He has served on the NBWA Board since 2016, including as chair of the Legal Review Committee before being elected as NBWA secretary. He is a founding member and board member of the California Family Beer Distributors. Heimark has also served on the Anheuser-Busch Wholesaler Advisory panel twice, including as its chairman in 2009. Read Heimark’s full remarks here.
WTF? Boston Beer and PepsiCo dew it hard, plan to launch HARD MTN DEW in 2022. Read about it here.
Ashley McFarland to become vice president and technical director of the American Malting Barley Association
The American Malting Barley Association (AMBA) recently announced Ashley McFarland as the new vice president-technical director, a position previously held by Scott Heisel who assumed the role of president October 1 when retiring president Mike Davis became senior advisor. McFarland comes to AMBA most recently from the nonprofit sector, but previously held positions in cooperative extension across multiple states.
Heisel noted that “AMBA is fortunate to have Ashley, with all of her previous experiences coming to AMBA and for her to be able to tap into Mike’s 38 years of experience with AMBA for the final months of 2021.”
Ashley served as the director of the Michigan State University Upper Peninsula Research and Extension Center (UPREC) where she managed a diverse research portfolio spanning across multiple agricultural sectors. While at that post, she developed a research program around small grains primarily focused on serving the burgeoning craft beverage industry in the state. That work led to a statewide applied research program and diverse outreach and education efforts targeting farmers, grain processors, and end users. Along with the establishment of the annual Great Lakes Hop and Barley Conference,
McFarland became very active in national efforts to strengthen the malting barley crop, including active participation on the National Barley Improvement Committee, and serving on the board of directors for the Craft Maltsters Guild.
“I am thrilled to be returning to the malting barley community in this role to build upon the strong foundation laid by Mike and Scott. My previous experiences with AMBA were some of the most rewarding work of my career and I feel very fortunate to work alongside the staff, board, and membership in support of the malting barley industry,” said McFarland.
In McFarland’s previous position, she supported the environmental nonprofit, Dovetail Partners, as executive director. Her primary role was communicating the science-based research reporting their team conducted to support informed decision-making for land managers, policy makers, and other natural resource professionals. She has also held water-focused extension positions in Iowa, Idaho, and Minnesota and holds a B.A. in Political Science and Environmental Studies from Central College (Pella, Iowa) and an M.S. in Environmental Science from Iowa State University.
In her new role, McFarland looks forward to serving and growing the membership base of the organization and communicating the robust research portfolio AMBA supports.
“Ashley will hit the ground running,” stated outgoing President Mike Davis, “with her years of barley research collaboration with AMBA and service as an elected member of the National Barley Improvement Committee. Her understanding and experience in the barley community and supply chain will be a tremendous asset to AMBA in meeting its mission to help ensure an adequate supply of high-quality malting barley.”
Your next read? Maybe our Sober Up series of investigative reports. Check this out. “Sober Up: The nascent Michigan hop industry won’t survive without your help.”
BarthHaas recruits Mirja Steinkamp and Philipp Ramin as members of the board of directors
Gobal hop supplier BarthHaas has appointed Prof. Dr. Mirja Steinkamp and Dr. Philipp Ramin as external members of its newly established board of directors. By creating this board, which will commence its activities in the fourth quarter of 2021, the global hops marketer is further preparing the ground for generational change. The board of directors comprises Mirja Steinkamp and Philipp Ramin along with the partners Stephan Barth and Alexander Barth.
“We are delighted and proud to have two established experts in their fields such as Prof. Dr. Mirja Steinkamp and Dr. Philipp Ramin on board with us. As a financial expert, Dr. Steinkamp will contribute comprehensive experience in operational company management and as a member of the board of directors in capital-market-oriented and family-run companies,” emphasized Regine Barth, managing partner of the BarthHaas Group. “In Dr. Ramin, the board of directors gains an entrepreneur who has made a name for himself predominantly through his work in digital competence development.”
Prof. Dr. Mirja Steinkamp has been professor of auditing and corporate accounting at Nordakademie — Hochschule der Wirtschaft (University of Applied Sciences) since April 2017 and works as a self-employed auditor and tax advisor. She previously worked for 13 years as an authorized signatory and manager for the Hamburg-based, global coffee trading company Neumann Kaffee Gruppe. Since May 2017 and December 2018 respectively, Dr. Steinkamp has also acted as a member of the board of directors at the listed company Basler AG (high-tech industrial cameras) and Alper & Schetter AG (consulting services for IT-based systems for company management).
As a member of the board of directors, Dr. Philipp Ramin will predominantly provide new impetus in digital competence development, data analytics, artificial intelligence, platform economy and digital business models.
“He will make a significant contribution toward getting BarthHaas fit for the future,” announced Regine Barth. Dr. Ramin is the founder and CEO of the international training, consultancy and research company Innovation Center for Industry 4.0. Since 2014 he has also been Vice Managing Director of Münchner Kreis e.V., an organization that acts as an