A star-studded cast of brewing and distilling experts stepped out from their tasting rooms across the country to share their entrepreneurial stories of success at the Alltech REBELation Brewing and Distilling symposium, which was held this week. The symposium examined how craft beer has exploded into a global phenomenon, the importance of a good distributor and the economics of returning moonshine to the mountains and boosting the eastern Kentucky economy. Speakers at the symposium included:
Bill Samuels, Jr. of Maker’s Mark, Loretto, Kentucky — Samuels is a bourbon industry icon, as former president of Maker’s Mark, where he took a little-known regional bourbon and made it one of the world’s most well-known and popular brands. Samuels hails from a family that has been distilling since the 1800s and is a seventh generation bourbon distiller.
Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head Brewery, Milton, Delaware — Calagione is credited with bringing culinary-inspired, “left-of-center beers” to the American market during a time when few were doing so. He opened Dogfish Head in 1995 as one of the smallest commercial U.S. breweries. Today, the brewery has grown into a 200-person company with a restaurant/brewery/distillery in Rehoboth Beach, a beer-themed hotel on the harbor in Lewes and a production brewery in Milton, selling beer in 31 states.
Greg Koch of Stone Brewing Co., Escondido, California — Koch is a legend in the craft brewing industry, brewing hoppy, high-alcohol beers such as its flagship Stone IPA before IPAs became the heralded beer style of the craft brewing industry. Stone Brewing was the 10th largest craft brewery in the United States in 2013.
“We are living in a historic chapter of American brewing, with a new craft brewery opening every 16 hours in this country,” said Dr. Pearse Lyons, president and founder of Alltech. “New distilleries are appearing everywhere too, as domestic whiskey sales have soared by 40 percent in the past five years. This clearly is a brave new world for brewers and distillers, one in which the opportunities are everywhere for entrepreneurs willing to seize them. The Alltech REBELation is a celebration of this. ”
For more information, visit the Alltech REBELation Brewing and Distilling symposium website.