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].
BrewDog appointments John Graham as CEO of its U.S. operations
BrewDog, the internationally acclaimed, Scottish-born craft beer maker with a growing footprint throughout the United States, recently announced the appointment of John Graham as CEO of its U.S. operations.
Graham brings with him considerable experience in senior roles across the hospitality and fast-moving consumer goods sectors. Graham joins BrewDog USA from the 786-unit coffee chain, Dutch Bros Coffee, headquartered in Grants Pass, Oregon, where he has served as CMO since 2020. Prior to his role at Dutch Bros. Coffee, Graham was the CEO of Triton Strategy Partners, LLC, and CMO at Align Technology and GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare. He also draws extensive experience from a 15-year career at Johnson & Johnson. Graham brings his proven track record in driving revenue, profitability, brand equity, market share and employee engagement to his new position with BrewDog.
“I am delighted John is joining us to lead BrewDog USA into its next phase of growth,” said James Watt, cofounder and BrewDog plc CEO. “We have built a fantastic platform in the states, but we are still very much at the beginning of our US journey and see massive potential to capitalize on the continued shift towards high quality craft beer. John brings with him a superb skillset, proven experience and an obvious passion for craft beer. I would also like to thank Jason Block for his massive contribution to BrewDog over the past four years. BrewDog USA has doubled in size under Jason’s leadership, and we wish him every success in his future endeavors.”
“I am so excited to be joining BrewDog at this pivotal time for the company as it looks to accelerate growth in the key U.S. market,” shared Graham. “I see huge opportunity for BrewDog which successfully strengthened its business despite the pandemic. As the success of the Vegas bar shows, BrewDog has built up a large, dedicated following of fellow craft beer enthusiasts. I cannot wait to get started and to work with the incredibly talented team already in place.”
Graham replaces former BrewDog USA CEO Jason Block, who has left his role with BrewDog to pursue new business opportunities. Block served as CEO of BrewDog’s US operations since January 2020. He successfully led the business through one of the most challenging periods in the history of brewing, expanded the company’s sales footprint throughout the United States and oversaw the launch of BrewDog’s flagship Las Vegas venue. BrewDog USA’s growth includes wholesale volume up 20 percent YoY with expanded distribution of 16 percent in Q1 2023 alone, with additional growth expected in its retail sector with the opening of bars in new markets later this year. Earlier this month, BrewDog was named to the Brewers Association’s list of “Top 50 Craft Brewing Companies.”
John Graham officially took the reigns as CEO on April 24. Outside of work, he enjoys spending time with his two children, trekking cross country on his motorcycle and long-distance running.
Alec Mull returns to Bell’s Brewery as general manager of Comstock Brewery
Bell’s Brewery just announced the selection of Alec Mull as general manager of its 600,000-bbl Comstock, Michigan, brewing facility. Mull will work alongside the brewery’s executive team to oversee day-to-day facility operations and conceptualize new beers to add to its expansive craft beer portfolio that includes iconic brands Two Hearted IPA and Oberon Ale. Mull will begin in his new role in early June.
Mull previously worked at Bell’s from 1999 to 2004 as head brewer. Most recently, Mull served as the vice president of brewing operations at Founders Brewing Co. for nearly 17 years.
“We’re overjoyed to welcome Alec back to Bell’s Brewery. His leadership style, industry experience, and personal values make him a fantastic addition as we look to further the brewery’s commitment to making best-in-class beer, while prioritizing best-in-class business operations,” said Carrie Yunker, executive vice president at Bell’s Brewery.
A Lansing, Mich., native and Michigan State University alum, Mull discovered his passion for fermentation in high school and began working in the brewing industry shortly after graduating college. His dedication to growing the profession is evident through his involvement in numerous organizations, including:
- Master Brewers Association of the Americas — district Michigan — past president and board of governors representative
- Hop Quality Group, past president
- Michigan Brewers Guild, board member
“This position is a bit of a homecoming for me, returning to the brewery that was so influential in the early years of my craft beer career,” said Mull. “I’ve long admired Bell’s commitment to standing for more than just a great beer, and I couldn’t be more excited to rejoin a business that is so deeply rooted in the community and shares my values.”
A longstanding hops aficionado, Mull notes that his favorite beer is, “Bell’s Two Hearted [IPA] for its pioneering and glorious simplicity … and the fond memories.”
Maine Brewers’ Guild taps Shea Cusick to lead organization
The Maine Brewers’ Guild, a 501(c) nonprofit that supports the craft beer industry, recently welcomed Shea Hearsum Cusick as incoming executive director — effective May 1.
Cusick is currently sales manager at Nonesuch River Brewing in Scarborough, Maine. During her time with Nonesuch she built a strong sales program, working directly with distributors and on-premises accounts to significantly increase the number of barrels sold. She also sits on the guild’s legislative affairs committee and is a certified beer server through the Cicerone Program.
“I am the quintessential craft beer cheerleader,” said Cusick. “My greatest asset is my ability to build relationships and bring people together. I can sell anything if I believe in its value. I believe in Maine beer and in the people who make it. I am constantly reminded of the collaborative spirit and camaraderie found within it and I’m excited to see where we can take it next.”
Cusick joins the Maine Brewers’ Guild after a decade of rapid growth for the craft beer industry. According to the Guild’s latest economic report, Maine beer adds $260,662,701 to the state economy each year and tourists cite craft beer as one of their top activities while visiting the state.
“The mission of the Maine Brewers’ Guild is to promote and protect Maine craft beer,” said Colleen Croteau, president of Maine Brewers’ Guild board of directors. “We know that Shea will take this mission to heart and lead our organization with enthusiasm, passion and a commitment to craft.”
The Maine Brewers’ Guild has more than 150 members and has introduced significant legislation, hosted craft beer events around the world and made Maine one of the top destinations for craft beer. For more information about the Maine Brewers’ Guild, please visit: https://mainebrewersguild.org/.
Arizona Wilderness Brewing hires Bradley Miles as head of production
Just like that subhead says, Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co. announced it has hired Bradley Miles as head of production. His first day at the brewery was Monday, May 15. For the past eight years, Miles’s been making beer at Firestone Walker Brewing Co. in Paso Robles, California. In 2021, he became Firestone’s head of R&D and innovation, and it was in this role that he developed the recipes for some of their most popular beers, including Hopnosis, Double Hopnosis, Primal Elements and Dad Bod Quad (which just snagged a medal at the World Beer Cup last weekend).
At Arizona Wilderness, Miles will be overseeing all aspects of beer production, designing new recipes and leading its team of brewers.
“AZ Wilderness is a community brewery with an ethos that’s bigger than the beer or the brewery itself,” Miles said. “That’s really what drew me to it. I’m excited to be part of that larger mission — and to make some great beer along the way.
Ben E. Keith Co. names Flint Prewitt president of Beverage Division
The Ben E. Keith board of directors recently announced the appointment of Flint Prewitt as the company’s Beverage Division president upon the retirement of Kevin Bartholomew. This succession was effective January 1.
“The appointment of Flint Prewitt demonstrates the deep bench of talent within our company developed under Kevin Bartholomew’s leadership,” said John Hallam, chief executive officer, Ben E. Keith. “Flint’s vast industry knowledge and experience positions him well as he takes on this role and continues the steady growth of our beverage division business.”
Prewitt, a seasoned industry professional, joined Ben E. Keith Co. in 1990 and has held beverage branch management positions across Texas in Mineral Wells, Commerce and Dallas. Most recently, Prewitt served as vice president of sales, overseeing all sales and operational execution for the division. Throughout his 33-year career, Prewitt has demonstrated the utmost integrity, effective business stewardship and strong commitment to the company and its values. Additionally, he has earned the respect of his fellow employees, customers and supplier partners. Prewitt gradated from Texas Tech University with a bachelor’s degree in both finance and marketing.
“It’s been an honor to work with Flint over the years. His thoughtful and measured approach to the business will continue to provide valuable insights and keep Ben E. Keith Beverages ahead of the latest trends and innovations. During his tenure, he has demonstrated an ongoing, positive impact on the business. I wish him all the best,” said current President Kevin Bartholomew.
“We want to thank Kevin for his leadership and notable contributions to Ben E. Keith Beverages over the last 39 years,” said Robert Hallam, Jr., chief operating officer, Ben E. Keith. “Under Kevin’s charge, Ben E. Keith Beverages grew significantly in sales, profits, geographic coverage, breadth of portfolio and number of facilities in operation.”
Bartholomew first came to work for the Beverage Division of Ben E. Keith Co. in 1984 and ascended the ranks through a series of sales and management positions, serving as general manager of Palestine, Abilene and Dallas, and as vice president of sales before being named Beverage Division president on July 1, 2000.
Bartholomew is an active member in the beer industry through his participation with the National Beer Wholesalers Association and the Wholesale Beer Distributors of Texas. Locally, he is on the board for Catholic Charities and a deacon at St. Bernard’s church.