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 USA becomes the first alcohol-free and non-alcoholic certified sales team in the country
BrewDog USA recently reached a new milestone as the brand announced it has become the first alcohol-free and non-alcoholic (AFNA) certified sales team in the country through the AFicioNAdo Certification Program. As the world’s first professional training and certification program focused on alcohol-free and non-alcoholic adult beverages, AFicioNAdo’s educational tools strive to raise awareness and enhance the experience of AFNA beer, wine and spirits for consumers.
As a focus product category, BrewDog celebrated strong growth within the alcohol-free sector in 2023. The new certification further demonstrates the brand’s commitment to serving all customers high-quality, flavorful beer no matter their drinking habits and elevates the brand’s knowledge of the AFNA category, truly engraining the team in brewing trends and evolving customer needs.
“We are heavily invested in taking a leadership position in this category,” shared Eric Franco, vice president of sales at BrewDog USA. “Education around the AFNA segment is critical for continued and sustained growth with our wholesalers, retailer partners and the buyers of non-alcoholic beer.”
On the heels of a successful Sober October, BrewDog’s AF Mixed Pack continues to perform above the national trend as the No. 1 AF Beer Variety Pack in the country in a category that has grown 32 percent to $447 million year over year (Nielsen IQ, Sept. 2023). The coveted box includes three non-alcoholic version of BrewDog’s core beers — Punk, Elvis Juice and Hazy — along with Nanny State, BrewDog’s golden AF ale that launched the brand’s foray into non-alcoholic beer.
Regarding Nanny State and BrewDog’s expansion in the non-alcoholic space, Meagen Anderson, founder and CEO of the AFicioNAdo Certification Program, shared, “BrewDog’s non-alcoholic brewing program in the United States precedes most of the recent growth in non-alcoholic beer offerings, which many people do not know. BrewDog’s story of creating Nanny State as one of the lead craft AFNA offerings in the early days showed their breadth and range as a global producer. They have always shared their brewing process in hopes of seeing the AFNA category develop further, and this commitment by Eric Teodoro Franco to training and education of his team as well as distributor and retail partners, demonstrates their continued commitment to long term growth, sustainability and quality as a recognized global brand. We are very proud to be included in their focus to increase BrewDog AF presence in the market.”
Minneapolis’ Indeed Brewing names new chief business officer Ryan Bandy
Indeed Brewing Co.’s Director of Experience Ryan Bandy steps up as the brewery’s chief business officer, effective November 20. Indeed Brewing has grown alongside the rising popularity of craft beer since 2012 with Ryan Bandy as an instrumental player in the brewery’s growth in both the market and its Minneapolis and Milwaukee taprooms. Cofounder Tom Whisenand is stepping aside from the day-to-day business operations to pursue a career as an airline pilot.
“The people of Minneapolis and Milwaukee and our neighborhoods have been good to us. We want to make great beer and provide good jobs. We’ve built a business that allows us to give back to employee-chosen nonprofits. We’ve navigated a pandemic. And over the past several years we’ve built a professional management structure that’s allowing me to step away from the typical brewery model where the owner/founders run everything,” said Tom Whisenand, former CEO. “I’m stoked for Ryan to lead us into the next era and look forward to transitioning into an advising role and Indeed beer drinker.”
Bandy’s move to lead executive highlights the brewery’s commitment to its people and creating unique growth opportunities for employees. Bandy joined Indeed over 10 years ago, getting his start in packaging, snapping pak-techs onto cans and waxing tops of bottles. From back of the house to taproom, then out the front door, Bandy’s gained experience in various positions from cellaring and bartending to field sales, events and sales management.
In 2019, Bandy stepped in as sales director, leading the brewery’s distribution and sales efforts. Last year he helped navigate the brewery’s Twin Cities in-house distribution move to Hohenstein’s, a family-owned, independent business with a focus on craft beer. In 2022, Bandy was promoted to director of experience, and his innovative approach to beer and insights into the evolving tastes of beer lovers has been influential in the expanding Indeed beverage portfolio, growing the community impact of Indeed’s events and creating welcoming taproom spaces in Minneapolis and Milwaukee.
“I’d be hard-pressed to find someone who cares as deeply about all things Indeed than Ryan — its people, its products, the experiences it creates and shares, its staying power,” said Kelly Moritz, Indeed Brewing’s chief operating officer. “We’re all going to benefit from his depth of experience, knowledge, and passion for what we do as a company, and after nine years of working side by side in so many different ways, I’m excited to embark on this new chapter together.”
Indeed was one the first breweries to open a taproom in Minneapolis in 2012 and has maintained its commitment to innovation, quality brews, community-oriented taprooms ever since. With annual events like Whirlygig in Minneapolis and weekly Indeed We Can nights in each taproom, which have raised more than $750,000 for local nonprofit organizations, Indeed is working to continue building a company around good people, good beers and good experiences.
The brewery continues to innovate its offerings, adding new brands to its year-round and seasonal portfolios, revamping packaging to support distribution channels, and expanding its beyond beer lineup with the introduction of THC, hard seltzer, NA beer, hard kombucha and more. Indeed’s growth in 2023 is led on-premise by the popular flagship Pistachio Cream Ale and supported at retail by vibrant variety packs that feature a mix of fan-favorite Indeed beer brands.
“The craft beer industry has evolved enormously since we started in 2012. We were the 16th brewery in the state when we opened, and now there are well over 200, and I think that’s awesome,” said Bandy. “Breweries are super cool companies, and not just because of the beer, though I do love a cold beer — they’re an amalgamation of so many different jobs and people. Indeed has professionals in manufacturing; packaging; warehousing; food science; art, branding, and marketing; taproom experience and hospitality; small- and large-scale events; and accounting and finance. Those professionals are all very different types of people, and that’s cool as hell! Within that range of personality traits lies a lot of power. Of course it can lead to friction or challenges, but it’s what can make breweries very cool small businesses. I think Indeed’s growth proves that.”
Ohio’s Saucy Brew Works and Cartridge Brewing appoint Mark Beaver as national accounts manager
Saucy Brew Works and Cartridge Brewing recently announced the appointment of Mark Beaver as their national accounts manager. With a comprehensive track record of success in sales leadership and national account management, Beaver’s move to Saucy Brew Works signifies a pivotal moment in its quest for accelerated growth and enhanced market penetration.
With a tenure spanning from sales to data management to leadership of people, Beaver’s impressive career is a testament to his adaptability, leadership and expertise. Most recently, Beaver held the role of senior national accounts for JuneShine Hard Kombucha and Canned Cocktails, managing Midwest/Texas regions and maintaining an active relationship with Kroger on a national scale. Prior to this, Beaver played an instrumental role at BrewDog Brewing Co. from November 2017 to July 2021.
In a mere three years, he showcased his expertise by driving BrewDog’s chain accounts from a modest 500 in three states to over 4,500 accounts across 30 states. Beaver also demonstrated a knack for expansion, elevating depletions from 15,000 CEs to 350,000 CEs during his tenure. His ability to rebuild, nurture and expand relationships with top retailers, such as Kroger, Giant Eagle, Meijer, HEB, Total Wines, Top Golf, Pins Mechanical, Roosters and Whole Foods, among others, stands as a testament to his commitment to growth and collaborative partnerships.
His role as a regional manager for new customer development at Signature Cabinetry Inc. further deepened his insights into customer relationships, distributor partnerships and strategic planning. Beaver’s analytical acumen, combined with his skills in syndicated data tools like IRI and Nielsen, positions him as an invaluable asset to Saucy Brew Works and Cartridge Brewing. His hands-on approach to program building, ad support and team coaching is anticipated to steer both breweries to new heights in their respective markets.
Brent Zimmerman, CEO of Saucy Brew Works and Cartridge Brewing said, “Mark’s holistic understanding of sales dynamics, paired with his demonstrated history of fostering growth and building strong retailer relationships, aligns perfectly with our vision. We’re thrilled to welcome him aboard and eager to see where his leadership takes us.”
Matt Shubeck, COO of Saucy Brew Works and Cartridge Brewing said, “Saucy Brew Works’ management team is excited to welcome Mark onto the team with his expertise and track record of success. We see him being instrumental in our company’s next leg of growth.”
Mark Beaver will now be at the forefront of Saucy Brew Works’ and Cartridge Brewing’s national accounts operations, leveraging his vast industry relationships and strategic insights to amplify their presence and growth in the market.
Beer Institute names Andrew Heritage as its chief economist
This week, the Beer Institute, the oldest national trade organization representing the beer industry, announced it named Andrew Heritage as its chief economist. Heritage previously served as senior economist at the Coalition for a Prosperous America (CPA) and brings with him a wealth of research experience in the manufacturing and small business economy spaces.
“I’m excited to bring together my love for beer and economics as I lead the Beer Institute’s research efforts and help tell the story of this wonderful beverage,” said Andrew Heritage. “Beer’s economic impact is substantial and touches the lives of Americans from every corner of the country. I look forward to using the tools at my disposal to grow the beer category and to help advocate for America’s brewers, beer importers and industry suppliers.”
“We are thrilled to welcome Andrew to our staff and know his research expertise will be invaluable in telling the story of our dynamic $409 billion beer industry,” said Brian Crawford, president and CEO of the Beer Institute. “Andrew’s deep and relevant experience will be instrumental in allowing the Beer Institute to continue to provide best-in-class insights and consumer trends for our members and drive results for the beer industry.”
Before joining the Beer Institute, Heritage was senior economist at the Coalition for a Prosperous America (CPA), lead economist at Thumbtack and a senior policy analyst at the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB). His economic policy research has focused on manufacturing and the small business economy. His research has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg and CNBC.
A native of Tacoma, Washington, Heritage holds a B.A. in political science from the University of Washington and an M.A. in International Political Economy from Claremont Graduate University. He lives in Central Virginia with his wife, daughter and their two dogs.
Alcohol investors InvestBev expand advisory board and leadership team
InvestBev, the private equity firm dedicated to the adult beverage industry, recently announced a strategic expansion of its advisory board and leadership team. Maggie Lapcewich, former chief growth officer of Breakthru Beverage Group, joined the company’s advisory board while Esther Park, former global brand vice president at Molson Coors, joined as VP of portfolio.
The expansion comes on the heels of rapid growth for InvestBev’s parent company, Growth Beverage, which in 2023 launched the Sprout Beverage accelerator for emerging brand and Algoma Capital, a $100 million loan provider dedicated to supporting whiskey brands and distilleries.
“We are thrilled to welcome Maggie and Esther to our team and to intensify our ongoing commitment to supporting independent beverage brands,” said Brian Rosen, founder and chairman of Growth Beverage. “We believe the adult beverage sector will continue on its historical path of delivering recession-resilient, uncorrelated growth. With the expansion of both our services and team, we believe we are well-positioned to support brands at every stage of their journey during this exciting time for the industry.”
Lapcewich, formerly the chief growth officer of Breakthru Beverage Group, has over 30 years of experience in all facets of the beverage alcohol industry. Preceding her successes at Breakthru and Wirtz Beverage, she held multiple roles within Diageo Plc, serving as president of Diageo Canada, president of Global Tequilas, president of U.S. national accounts and general manager for several U.S. markets and regions. Before that, she was in sales leadership at E&J Gallo Winery. Her extensive knowledge in both the supplier and distributor tiers of the three-tier system will be invaluable to InvestBev and its portfolio companies.
Park is an accomplished global brand builder and results-focused commercial executive who has led marketing and innovation for industry leaders such as Molson Coors, Bacardi, Grey Goose, Dewar’s, Revlon, and Procter and Gamble. As VP of portfolio, Park is responsible for partnering with InvestBev’s portfolio companies to enhance their operations, problem-solve, and drive growth.
This is the third leadership hire within the growth beverage group portfolio of brands over the past 12 months. Additional hires this year include Molson Coor’s Gustavo Aguirre who joined the firm as VP of innovation for Sprout Beverage, and Michael Koehler, VP of Algoma Capital, who was most recently at BMO Harris Bank.