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].
Urban South Brewery welcomes Chris Rakow as director of brewing operations
Urban South Brewery, the largest craft brewery in New Orleans and one of the leading breweries in the South, has named Chris Rakow as the new director of brewing operations for all Urban South locations. Rakow has over 14 years of brewing leadership experience in the craft beer industry. At Urban South, Rakow will oversee all of brewery operations including R&D, recipe formulation and brewing staff in all company facilities.
“Chris is a fantastic addition to the Urban South house of brands, which as of recently includes Perfect Plain in Florida. We are excited to have someone with his level of leadership experience and innovation expertise setting the brewing direction,” stated Jacob Landry, founder and president of Urban South Brewery. “We look forward to working together to expand our offerings and grow our team.”
Rakow’s love of brewing began while he was at Rutgers, where he was studying to become an engineer. He tried his hand at homebrewing and was hooked. While he did graduate with an engineering degree, soon afterwards he switched paths, attended American Brewing School and joined the brewing team at Harpoon Brewery in Vermont. He later moved on to run operations at Riverhorse Brewery in New Jersey for 12 years where he helped grow production from 2,000 to 20,000 bbls. His next role was as head brewer at Abita Brewing in Covington, La., for two years before joining Urban South Brewery.
“I am excited about joining the team at Urban South. The brewery has a great culture and laid-back environment,” said Chris Rakow, director of brewing operations. “It is rare to be a part of a growing brewery in the industry at the moment, and I am fortunate to have this opportunity. I look forward to managing multiple locations all while unifying the breweries and maintaining their individuality. I’m excited to work with the team and to be able to show my skills and formulate delicious recipes for customers to enjoy.”
Rakow is passionate about making anything that can be made at home, from beer to soap. He also enjoys spending time with his family, playing the guitar, cooking and woodworking.
Founded in 2016, award-winning Urban South Brewery has established itself as one of the leading Southern regional craft breweries. From its original New Orleans taproom to its satellite location in Texas — Urban South-HTX — to its recently acquired Perfect Plain Brewing Co. in Pensacola, Fla., the brewery produces high quality, affordable beers that are easy to drink and a great way to enhance any occasion. Known for its flagship Paradise Park American Lager and Holy Roller IPA, fruited sours and hard seltzers, recent accolades include: 2022 U.S. Open Beer Championship (Gold and Bronze), 2021 Can Can Awards (Gold and Bronze, 2020 U.S. Open Beverage Championship (Silver) and 2020 Great American Beer Festival (Gold). For more information, visit www.UrbanSouth.com.
R&D Brewing promotes Rachel Hamilton Peterson to COO and hires Mark Theisen as director of brewing operations
Raleigh-based R&D Brewing recently announced some big people moves. First, R&D has promoted Rachel Hamilton Peterson to the newly created position of chief operating officer. Peterson brings 20 plus years of beer experience to this position, including over 15 years in marketing with the Anheuser-Busch wholesalers and five years in marketing and operations with R&D Brewing. Peterson, who has worked her entire career across all facets of the brewing industry, formerly served as director of marketing at the brewery.
John Glover, CEO of R&D Brewing stated: “We are fortunate to have someone with Rachel’s exceptional talent and experience leading our company as we expand outside of our local market. Her relationships have proven to be invaluable as we transition from self-distribution to marketing and distribution through the North Carolina beer wholesalers’ network. It is exciting to see another generation of Hamilton’s continue in the beer business as Rachel’s father, Philip Hamilton recently retired after 40 years in the beer industry.”
While proudly based in Raleigh, R&D Brewing is quickly making a name for itself as one of the fastest-growing breweries in North Carolina. — multiple U.S. Open Beer Championship medal-winning Seven Saturdays IPA and Riviera Lager, partnerships with the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes (Storm Brew), the NCAA’s Deacon Brew (the official craft beer of Wake Forest University), Mountain Brew (the official craft beer of Appalachian State University) and its ownership of Bull Durham Beer Co. (the first brewery in a minor league stadium).
“We want to continue to grow concentrically by ensuring we maintain a strong presence in our home market of Raleigh and then new market expansions,” said Peterson. “It is this kind of deliberate, customer-focused approach that makes us excited for the the next chapters of the business. We’re defining our own future based on the opportunities before us that make sense with our passion for creating great beers.”
Peterson lives in Raleigh and enjoys spending time with her husband and two young daughters.
Mark Theisen is the new director of brewing operations
R&D Brewing also announced the hiring of Mark Theisen to serve as its new director of brewing operations. Thiesen, originally from San Diego, began his career at Mission Brewing before becoming head brewer at the famed Coronado Brewing Co., winner of the prestigious World Beer Cup Champion Best Mid-Sized Brewery & Brewmaster.
Seeking a new challenge and geography for him and his fiancée, Theisen made a short list of cities with exciting brew scenes including Austin and Boston and the Triangle region of North Carolina. His search coincided with R&D’s hunt for the director position to continue its growth into a regional brewing powerhouse in the southeast.
“We are excited to have Mark on the team. It is an incredible opportunity to have such a highly regarded industry professional overseeing our brewing operations,” said Rachel Peterson, chief operating officer, R&D Brewing. “His expertise in the brewing industry and commitment to the vision of R&D Brewing are integral to our future growth and success.”
“R&D is making a name for itself not just for their award-winning, delicious beers, but also for their intentional and smart growth” said Theisen. “I’m thrilled to join a team with a strong foundation and commitment to quality and the willingness to try new things and take risks.”
Theisen plans on potentially incorporating some of the styles made famous by West Coast breweries like a West Coast IPA — in good time. Theisen is active in the hiking and art communities. He, his fiancee, Lina, and their dogs, Charlotte and Jellybean, are quickly becoming regulars in the N.C. brewery scene.
To find out more about R&D Brewing, visit RnDBrewing.com.
Greater Good Imperial Brewing hires Chris Zampa as vice president of operations and David Morrice as director of sales
Massachusetts’ Greater Good Imperial Brewing Co. recently announced that two key leadership positions have been filled. The news follows just months after the internal promotion of Colleen Quinn as new chief executive officer.
David Morrice officially began his duties as Greater Good’s director of sales effective on October 31. A 20-year sales vet, Morrice comes with proven experience leading the sales teams at Yazoo Brewing, of Tennessee, as well as serving as the VP of sales for Connecticut-based Stony Creek. Prior to that, he held multiple positions both in sales and consulting in and outside of the beverage industry, with brands like Pepsi and Panera.
“I’m really excited about the chance to play a part in the continuous growth of Greater Good,” commented Morrice. “Their commitment to all imperial style beers is incredibly appealing from a sales perspective. In an increasingly crowded market, it’s hard for brands to differentiate themselves from their competitors. Greater Good does it not only by leaning into their position as the leading all-imperial craft brewery, but delivering high-quality liquid that is consistent and interesting to customers.”
Morrice joins a growing team that recently added Chris Zampa, who was brought on as Greater Good’s VP of operations this September. Zampa has handled a range of operational and supervisory roles in the industry including as packaging manager and safety director at RedHook Brewing, as well as three years in his role as senior manager of brewery operations for Anheuser Busch in Portsmouth, N.H. Zampa’s time overlapped with CEO Colleen Quinn when they were both working for Craft Brew Alliance (CBA).
“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t interested in working with Colleen again,” said Zampa, who held the role of packaging/warehouse manager while at CBA. “And the appeal of the opportunity at Greater Good extends even further than collaborating with someone I respect and worked with in the past. This team spent the last year making it clear on all levels that they want people to think of imperial beers and Greater Good in the same sentence. It’s rare to be a part of something like that, which makes the role even more exciting.”
The recent hires to key leadership positions in both operations and sales — in addition to the elevation of Colleen Quinn to CEO earlier in the year — all form a part of a story that Quinn is very clearly trying to tell: Greater Good is serious about the organization’s growth ambitions.
“I want people to look at the last year and realize that everything is being done with conviction,” said Quinn. “There are a lot of highlights in 2022 — from our staffing enhancements to the first-ever All Imperial Beer Fest we held in September to the increase in our diversity of imperial style beers, we are cranking and have zero intention of slowing down.”
Greater Good Imperial Brewing Co. was founded as America’s first all-imperial brewery in 2016. Located in Worcester, Mass., Greater Good brews a variety of high octane, yet smooth-drinking IPAs, porters, stouts, and ales. Brewed with dedication to crafting excellent beers that range from 8 to 12 percent ABV range and available in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, New York, and New Hampshire. To learn more, visit https://greatergoodimperials.com/.
Breakthru Beverage Group names Kevin Roberts as CCO and Julian Burzynski as COO
Breakthru Beverage Group recently announced the promotion of Kevin Roberts to a newly designed chief commercial officer (CCO) role and Julian Burzynski to a newly created role of chief operating officer (COO). These appointments will be effective January 1, 2023, following the planned retirement of E. Lloyd Sobel, current chief commercial officer.
“As Breakthru continues to expand our North American footprint, advance our capabilities and deliver operational and executional excellence, we have the opportunity to evolve our leadership team to meet the demands of our future growth ambition,” said Tom Bené, Breakthru Beverage Group president and chief executive officer. “Lloyd leaves big shoes to fill however Kevin and Julian are proven leaders, with deep industry relationships and a track record of delivering on behalf of our partners. I look forward to watching them both thrive in their new roles.”
As CCO, Roberts will build on his successful track record of leading Breakthru’s Supplier Business Development team and will oversee the company’s commercial strategy, including initiatives that support and enable the supplier and customer selling organizations. In his role as COO, Burzynski will oversee Breakthru’s customer-first execution strategy across North America including oversight of the United States and Canadian operating units and route-to-consumer efforts. Both will focus on delivering a consistent and scalable model that will foster superior execution, deliver against the company’s performance expectations and bolster Breakthru’s ambition for continued geographic expansion.
Breakthru Beverage Group is one of the leading alcohol wholesalers in the United States and the largest broker in Canada representing a full total beverage alcohol portfolio of spirits, wine and beer.
Encompass Technologies adds Ray Guerin to its board of directors
Encompass Technologies, a leading cloud-based ERP platform for producers, distributors, and retailers in the beverage industry, recently announced that Ray Guerin, former chairman and CEO of Reyes Beverage Group, has joined its board of directors. Guerin’s addition comes as the company accelerates growth and scales the Encompass network to unlock growth and drive efficiency for producers, distributors, and retailers across the beverage industry.
Guerin helped lead Reyes to become the country’s largest beer wholesaler and the sixth-largest privately held company in the United States. In his 27 years with the company, Guerin played a key role in growing Reyes’ employee base from 700 people to 31,000 across 46 states and 18 countries.
“I’m thrilled to work with Encompass to continue revolutionizing the beverage supply chain,” said Guerin. “Encompass has the technology solutions for producers, distributors, and retailers to run more effective businesses by streamlining operations, simplifying decision-making, and equipping them for success in a fast-changing market.”
“It’s an honor to have Ray join us while we continue accelerating the company’s longstanding vision to help modernize the beverage industry,” said Patrick Tickle, recently appointed CEO of Encompass. “On behalf of the 500+ employees, we welcome Ray and his unique perspectives and insights on the beverage industry.”
Jonathan O’Neil, founder of Encompass, continues as the executive chairman driving the company’s solutions strategy.
“The company started with a vision to connect the people, processes, technology, and data across the beverage industry, and we do that for more than 2 million users today,” said O’Neil. “We are thrilled to welcome Ray to our board. Both Patrick and Ray have spent their careers transforming companies with expansive visions and scaling to accelerate business growth.”
With over 1,000 customers worldwide, including some of the most successful brewers, winemakers, distillers, distributors, and retailers across the beverage industry, Encompass is uniquely positioned to continue to drive innovation and transform its growing network of customers.
“I speak for Jonathan and Patrick when I say that we’re ready to bring the beverage industry into its next phase of growth with the power of the Encompass network,” said Guerin.