Behind every beer brand you drink is an impressive team of beer professionals — brewers, barkeeps, bussers, canners, sales reps, CEOs, COOs, lab techs, interns 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].
Ohio Craft Brewers tap new board members
In voting that took place in June, the member breweries of the Ohio Craft Brewers Association elected five representatives to the group’s board of directors. Ali Hovan of HiHO Brewing Co. in Cuyahoga Falls was elected to a third term on the board and elevated to vice-president to succeed Jimmy Stockwell of Little Fish Brewing. Stockwell is term-limited after six years of board service, the last four as vice-president.
“I am grateful to be able to continue to serve on the OCBA board and have a voice for northeast Ohio beer and other small, family-owned breweries like HiHO,” Hovan remarked. “I look forward to working on continued modernization of Ohio’s alcohol laws and helping to make the craft brewing industry more equitable for all.”
Adam Benner of Land-Grant Brewing Co. in Columbus was re-elected to a second term as Ohio Craft Brewers Association treasurer. First elected in 2020, Benner has successfully guided the non-profit association through the turbulent financial effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the cancellation of two years’ worth of fundraising events.
In addition to Stockwell, two other members of the board will be stepping down due to term limits. John Haggerty of Warped Wing Brewing was first elected in 2016 and has served on the association’s advocacy, equity and inclusion, finance and safety committees. Mark Hunger of Great Lakes Brewing Co. has also served on the board since 2016 and sat on the education and events committees. Haggerty and Hunger jointly developed the recipe for the inaugural From the Heart collaboration IPA in 2021, a statewide fundraiser for the Ohio Craft Brewers Association.
To succeed the departing members, three candidates were elected to their first terms on the board. Steve Forman of Great Lakes Brewing Co. in Cleveland, Jason Moore of Crooked Handle Brewing in Springboro and Jamey Ratcliff of Sixth Sense Brewing in Jackson will assume their seats effective August 1, 2022.
“With more than 400 breweries in the state, we’re very fortunate to have so many people willing to lend their expertise and insight for the good of the entire brewing industry,” said Mary MacDonald, executive director of the Ohio Craft Brewers Association. “Our board is made up of representatives from Ohio’s largest and smallest breweries, those based in urban centers and those in small, rural communities, breweries with decades of experience and some that are relatively new. Those many perspectives help us to find a common purpose that benefits all of Ohio’s independently-owned breweries.”
Each of the five elected members of the board of directors will serve a two-year term expiring in August 2024.
Founded in 2007, the Ohio Craft Brewers Association is a nonprofit guild that exists to promote, preserve, diversify and unify Ohio’s craft brewing industry. We aspire to be recognized as the industry leader at both state and national levels for preserving the art of making high-quality, unique craft beer; to serve as the unified voice for craft brewers across the state; to advocate on behalf of the Ohio craft beer industry; to contribute to systemic, local community development by driving economic and job growth, while creating experiences that bring people together; to promote safe, responsible enjoyment of Ohio craft beer; and to serve as a beacon for local production and manufacturing through craft beer, resulting in diverse choices for consumers.
New Belgium and Bell’s announce Courtney Simmons as new DEI director
New Belgium Brewing and Bell’s Brewery recently announced Courtney Simmons (she/her/hers) as the newly-combined company’s director of diversity, equity and inclusion. By providing expert leadership on this critical element of Human-Powered Business across a workforce spanning 1,300 coworkers and major operations in four states, Simmons’ new role is both a recognition of the work yet to do in building a more diverse, equitable, and truly inclusive company that reflects the entire spectrum of identities in our communities and a strong commitment to accelerating progress toward that goal.
Simmons brings a wealth of experience to the company. Prior to joining New Belgium and Bell’s, she served as DEI manager at Herman Miller in Zeeland, Mich., where she worked to embed DEI practices throughout the employee lifecycle, including talent pipelines, learning experiences, and courageous conversations. She serves as chair for the Equality Michigan Action Network which advocates and lobbies to ensure LGBTQ+ individuals can live their best lives in Michigan; volunteers with Make-A-Wish Michigan as a wish-granting volunteer helping kids with life-threatening illnesses; and serves on the Diversity and Inclusion Committee for a local law firm.
“DEI presents an enormous opportunity for the craft beer industry to evolve and expand in a positive direction, and New Belgium has made some important investments in this work. But it’s no secret that we, like so many breweries, have a long way to go,” said New Belgium CEO Steve Fechheimer. “As a central part of our Human-Powered Business model, we will continue putting our coworker and community wellbeing at the center of everything we do to ensure our business reflects all people, cultures, and identities.”
“Courtney is a phenomenal leader and a much-needed truth-teller, and she’s really well positioned to help push us to address hard realities about where we are falling short in championing equity and building diversity as a company, within our industry, and beyond,” said Carrie Yunker, executive vice president at Bell’s Brewery.
New Belgium and Bell’s have long-prioritized advancements towards equity and inclusion in the brewing industry. Cofounded by a social worker in 1991, New Belgium has spent three decades pioneering a people-centered business model called Human-Powered Business based on the idea that coworkers drive the business forward, and in return the business puts coworker and community wellbeing at the center of everything we do. The brewery is a certified B Corporation; employed the first Diversity and Inclusion Specialist in the craft beer industry in 2019; is an active member of the Human Rights Campaign Business Coalition for the Equality Act; advocates against discriminatory public policy; and received a perfect score of 100 percent on HRC’s corporate equality index Best Places to Work for LGBTQ Equality in 2021 – the first craft brewery to do so. Internally, New Belgium also supports a range of affinity groups promoting community, connection, and amplifying coworker voices, and has long adopted a scalable philanthropy model that prioritizes investment in marginalized communities.
Bell’s work in diversity, equity, and inclusion spans over 30 years of working to foster, engage and empower a diverse workforce and community. Bell’s has been the presenting sponsor of Kalamazoo Pride since 2013, and Bell’s coworkers have been seeking to amplify underrepresented voices through beer since the first iteration of their coworker brew series in 2019. This twice annual series celebrates the individual experiences and identities of their coworkers including, but not limited to, LGBTQ+, Veterans, and Black and Latino/a/x coworkers.
In this new leadership role, Simmons will work to continue bringing underrepresented voices forward to influence leadership’s thinking and how decisions are made. Plans include focusing on key areas of the business initially — including trainings to embed a culture of inclusion, recruiting, retention and advancement, coworker benefits and services, brand marketing and community outreach. Simmons will also join the Human Powered Business Steer Co. with the executive team and help center equity and inclusion governance within the company’s Human-Powered Business model. Reporting to Chief ESG Officer Katie Wallace, Simmons will work to add resources to make it easier for all coworkers to engage in the practice of making Bell’s and New Belgium’s spaces inclusive and equitable, thus supporting broader diversity in the industry and beyond.
“At the end of the day, if we’re not engaging all our co-workers and ensuring that our workforce reflects ALL the people, cultures, and identities among potential customers in our global marketplace, well then, we’re not reaching all the people we can, selling all the beer we can, making all the profits we can, or having the greatest positive impact we can,” said Simmons. “I’m inspired by our potential to kick ass at this effort.”
Greater Good Imperial Brewing promotes Colleen Quinn to CEO
Greater Good Imperial Brewing Co. recently announced the internal promotion of Colleen Quinn to chief executive officer. Quinn, chief commercial officer (CCO) since January 2022, will officially assume the role of CEO starting July 1, 2022.
Paul Wengender, a biotechnology and brewing entrepreneur, founded the popular all-imperial brewery back in 2016 in Worcester, Mass., with what many consumers might call a lofty goal: brew a strong beer that didn’t taste too strong.
“Most of the high ABV beers on the market in the early 2000s were too boozy,” said Wengender. “So, I set out with a mission of constructing high ABV beers that didn’t carry that prevalent alcohol burn. The history for Greater Good actually dates to my back porch in 2006, home brewing high octane beers and tinkering with a variety of homegrown hops, different yeast strains, grain bills, and hopping techniques. Our liquids steadily improved up until our launch in 2016, and now those recipes are produced at our state-of-the-art Worcester brewery by an elite team of brewers/owners.”
During a period of time that has seen a spike in low/no alcohol beers and low calorie alternatives such as hard seltzers, one might question whether there is enough validation in the market for beers that register between 8 to 12 percent ABV. Wengender and the Greater Good team have always maintained that there are more than enough customers who would choose quality over quantity — and the growth of the brewery over the past four years has only strengthened their resolve.
“Six years since our launch, we know that there is consumer demand and appreciation for the unique liquids we bring to the market, and we have also found someone who can take this discovery and catalyze the next phase of growth of the company. Colleen Quinn is absolutely the person I trust to lead Greater Good into the next stage of its journey,” said Wengender.
Quinn has been serving in her capacity as chief commercial officer since January 2022, focusing on driving growth of Greater Good with leadership over the the sales, marketing, and taproom teams. Her appointment to chief executive officer further capitalizes on her proven strength and allows her the opportunity to lead the expansion of the entire organization.
“When I started working for Greater Good, I was blown away by the conviction — both of the team and the brand,” said Quinn. “This was a brewery that was doing something truly differentiated, and owning our position as America’s first and only all-imperial brewery continues to be both our primary focus and a big point of pride. As we look towards the future, we’ll turn that differentiation into more growth, aspiring to gain a 50 percent share of the imperial, high-ABV market.”
Prior to joining Greater Good as a consultant in 2021, Colleen Quinn spent five years at Craft Brew Alliance (CBA) in a variety of roles, including leading strategy, mergers and acquisitions, and eventually leading their East Coast business as general manager. After CBA was acquired by Anheuser Busch, Quinn joined as head of strategy for the combined 21-brewery craft business unit. Shortly after, Quinn started her own consulting company, Second Sip Beverage Consulting.
In addition to her experience, Quinn’s promotion to CEO is of particular note in an industry where many female leaders have rarely found a path to leadership outside of founding a brewery themselves or elevating as part of a family-owned brewery. Quinn comes from outside of Greater Good and has very quickly risen to the most senior leadership role in the company based on her industry expertise and passion for the brand.
Quinn will officially take over as CEO of Greater Good on Friday, July 1. Paul Wengender will remain as executive chair of the company’s board of directors.
MobCraft Dee Tacko hires Jeff Willis as GM of new Curtis Park neighborhood taproom
MobCraft Beer recently announced the hiring of Jeff Willis as the general manager for its new brewpub and taco restaurant in the Curtis Park neighborhood of Denver. Willis brings over 18 years of brewery, taproom and restaurant management experience to MobCraft Dee Tacko. Willis fell in love with the craft beer scene while working as the assistant general manager at The Ginger Man, a world-renowned beer bar in Austin.
Fine tuning his management skills over the years, Willis was responsible for many aspects of running successful craft beer bars and restaurants including hiring, staff training, inventory management, tap rotation schedules, beer selection, team leadership, bartending, customer relations and event management.
In 2011, Willis relocated to Colorado where he began his role as the owner and general manager at Tap & Handle located in the Old Town district of Fort Collins, Colo. In 2018, Willis founded Skull Mechanix Brewing back in Austin and served as the owner and director of operations where he was responsible for all daily operations. In 2021, Willis relocated back to Fort Collins to help find new owners for Purpose Brewing and Cellars.
Willis’ extensive background, skills and personality are a perfect match for MobCraft.
“We are very excited to welcome Jeff to the leadership role of our MobCraft Dee Tacko Denver team. His extensive beer knowledge and experience in the Colorado beer scene, along with his leadership skills, makes him a key part of the success of MobCraft Dee Tacko. We have absolute confidence that he is the perfect guy to help us get out of the gate, full speed ahead,” said Matt McColloch, MobCraft Beer’s expansion manager.
“I could not be more excited about being part of the MobCraft Dee Tacko team that is about to introduce MobCraft’s awesomeness to Colorado,” adds Willis. “During my career, I have designed over 13 venues and what MobCraft has brewing (pun intended) here in Denver is something special. I look forward to sharing my years of experience, knowledge, dedication and passion to a craft beer brand I believe in.”
MobCraft Beer is partnering with Dee Tacko of Pueblo, Colo., to open a brewpub and taco restaurant in the former Liberati Brewery at 2403 Champa Street in the Curtis Park area of Denver. The taproom bar will have 30 draft lines, plus offer a full bar including wine, liquor, hard seltzers, and hard cider.
Renovations of the space are currently underway with the grand opening scheduled for summer 2022. The taproom will feature two spaces: one for traditional sit-down dining and one with a more casual taproom vibe with high tops, lounge furniture and games. The property also features a 5,000-sq-ft patio with outdoor lounge and dining seating, bocce courts, fire pits, plus a parking lot with 30 spaces for customer parking.
Migration Brewing hires Columbia Distributing’s Ken Hartill as director of growth
When Migration Brewing began operations in 2010 the brewery produced 217 bbls of beer in its first year. This year Migration’s goal is to hit 10,000 bbls. Now employing 70 people throughout Portland, the company operates three pubs including a production facility in Gresham. Recently, Migration announced plans to invest in the company’s growth by hiring Ken Hartill as director of growth.
Hartill is a proven leader in the beverage industry with 37 years of experience at Columbia Distributing, which is one of the top five distributors in the nation and Migration Brewing’s distributor in Oregon and Washington. Having started on the ground floor as a delivery driver, Hartill learned the whole industry from every aspect of the operations and sales side, building brands throughout Oregon. Hartill recently retired from his position as the general manager of the distributor’s largest region, bringing in $400 million in revenue and 20 million in case sales annually.
“The team at Migration is like family to me,” said Hartill, who had a fermentation tank named after him when the brewery opened its production facility in 2018. “Not only did I hire Eric Banzer-Lausberg in sales before he cofounded the brewery, I had the pleasure of working closely with him after the brewery began distributing their award-winning beers through Columbia. This feels like home, Migration has tremendous potential, and I couldn’t be more excited to help grow the brand.”
“When we started Migration, we were just four friends that wanted to start a brewpub together. It’s funny to think that our entire original brewery could fit into the walk-in cooler that now stores our hops!” said McKean Banzer-Lausberg, Migration cofounder. “We sell 90 percent of our beer in the beautiful city of Portland. Our fans have embraced us and showed us we can keep expanding. Ken will bring the experience and skills we need to grow our market share in all of Columbia’s footprint in addition to opening and uncovering new markets.”
Migration’s production numbers are beginning to nudge up against the brewery’s current capacity of 12,000 bbls. With Hartill on board, the goal is to sell 20,000 bbls of beer per year by 2025.
Migration also continues to gain notoriety for its achievements in brewing excellence. Since 2019, its Mo-Haze-Ic beer has won nine awards including gold medals at the Australian International Beer Awards, North American Beer Association Beer Awards, and European Beer Star Awards, a silver medal at the Oregon Beer Awards, and a bronze at the Great American Beer Festival. Migration has also picked 23 awards in the last three years for other beers including two gold medals and a silver at the Oregon Beer Awards.