Category Archives: Beer News

A Plea for Fair Compensation in Beer

If you are reading this article, I am sure you are aware that the craft beer industry is booming.  Every day, new recipes are being created, never been tasted beer is tapped and new employees are hired to make, serve and sell the beer. The economic impact is one of the greatest things about the beer industry. $1.6 billion was contributed to the economy in Colorado in 2013, a huge portion of that coming from jobs alone.

Lately, I have noticed a trend that is putting these jobs in jeopardy. This isn’t a trend that is new, in fact, you probably participated in this trend at some point in your life. But you were called an intern, and you probably got college credit for it. It is even a trend that is affecting other industries too, the use of free labor. The problem is this trend is changing. No longer are breweries asking their relatives and childhood friends to help ‘em out, but are now asking for highly qualified candidates to work FOR FREE for their brand.

It’s no secret that smaller and newer breweries often rely on very-part-time employees and volunteers. The money just isn’t there yet for a fulltime marketer, sales rep or assistant brewer and there are too many events and not enough people. There is nothing wrong with utilizing your resources in most cases. In fact, my first position in a brewery was volunteer. I volunteered in the Pateros Creek Brewing Co. taproom, making only tips. But I nannied for them as well, they were my family, and I didn’t mind helping out family when they needed it to make their dreams come true.  Just like the family of Loveland Aleworks, and West Flanders Brewing Co. My fellow volunteers at Pateros Creek included the brewer’s mother, sister and brother-in-law, who all helped fill in the slots until they could hire someone trained to handle it.

These newly funded positions are opening up every day in production, packaging and sales with more than enough applicants to fill them. People have moved to Colorado in search of a career in beer. Not to mention, if you asked someone who already lives here if they would work at a brewery, the answer would probably be a loud “when can I start?. I even get several emails a month even asking if my blog is hiring (Sorry folks, I don’t even get paid for this). Clearly, there is no shortage of labor in this industry, and in most cases it is passionate, dedicated labor. Some breweries are now starting to take advantage of that with more and more volunteers.

There was recently an “incident” that made this issue weigh on my mind for over a week, until I just had to write this post. The Fort Collins Brewery recently sent out a call to staff a “Street Team”. I use the word staff because they sent out a full job description asking for highly qualified candidates to help rep and sell their brand. The kicker, there is no compensation for this job. But wait….there’s more! If you call right now, you get free beer and shwag as “bonuses”! Plus, the best workers might possibly, maybe, in the far future, get a REAL JOB! That’s right folks, they are throwing in a free carrot, just for you.

I have often referred to Fort Collins Brewery as “the forgotten brewery”. Their community involvement just isn’t there. Their sales prove it, with the majority of their money coming from out of state (SOURCE: Doug SMith, Operations Managers Fort Collins BRewery, Beverage Business Institute Presentation, 2013). But, they have been trying in the last couple years to change that. They hired a new marketer, Charles Stanley, who reached out to me and the groups I was associated with, and his efforts made me and my groups stop by the taproom more often, even just to share a chat with Stanley. But then something changed again, and Stanley left, and I am not cool with this new direction, especially the “street team”.  I can see how Fort Collins Brewery can see this as a way to get involved with community, create a following, and be more visible. But by doing this you are hurting the industry as a whole, as well as yourselves.

You may or may not know, but I get paid to do the exact same job Fort Collins Brewery has posted for their “street team”, as do many of my friends who I get to see on a regular basis at beer fests and other events, repping other brands. Unfortunately, now our jobs may be in danger. Why would a smaller brewery with less income pay us to do our jobs when Fort Collins Brewery, a much larger company, is getting the labor for free?

Let’s take this out a step further. Why would the consumer pay $6 for your premium beer when they know the person serving it is working for free? Not paying your employees goes as far back as that economic impact study. You are not providing jobs for our community. You are not part of the cash flow through our economy. You are simply taking when you ask for free labor. Taking time, money, and community away from the craft beer industry.

This is my plea to all breweries, not just Fort Collins Brewery, to fairly compensate your employees. Many are highly trained, whether it be Cicerone, the BBI or other fermentation programs. They deserve to be compensated for their time and talents. Spreading the word of your brand for free is YOUR job, not theirs. They have homes to pay for and families to feed, and unfortunately, one cannot live off beer and and t-shirts alone.

 

POST EDIT: I added in some sources, as so many of you have come forward saying I am making this up. It is hard to make up something that I can link directly too (the job description). I would also like to thank the FCB employees (and their SOs) for their harassing emails, prank phone calls and facebook status messages. You see, I did my research and traced your emails and phone numbers so you are not as anonymous as you think you are. My intention was to open up discussion on an issue that is effecting the industry as whole, something you have a huge part in, and you choose to respond in the most inapproriate way possible. Just because we are in the same industry doesn’t mean I have to agree to and bow down to your way of business. Rather than agree to disagree you have chosen to take a sad path and hurt the industry even more with your actions. How are we supposed to say our industry is open and collaborative when you viciously attack at a moments notice?

As far as the mean, hate filled emails from FCB employees (and their SOs), I have received more than double “thank you” emails from industry (and many former FCB employees) for being willing to speak up on this issue and tell someone what they are doing it not right. And it is no secret why these people are afraid to speak up, because doing so gets your head on a steak by immature people unwilling to open lines of discussion, but rather act hatefully and rashly.

 

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To The Next Class of The Beverage Business Institute

What a great decision you have made in joining the Beverage Business Institute at Colorado State University. You choose to enroll in this program to expand your knowledge on the beverage business to either further your career, or start a new one. You couldn’t have come to a better place to do so.

You will spend the next few months gaining invaluable knowledge, experiences and resources from the talent rich Fort Collins beverage industry. From learning law and policy, to inventory and shipping management, to the brewing process, all will be taught to you by industry leaders. You will be challenged to think critically, creatively and thoughtfully fromBBI - November 2013 Ad a vast array of speakers about industry issues. After days in the classroom, the learning will continue with exclusive, behind the scenes tours of some of the best business in the industry including New Belgium Brewing and American Eagle Distributing.

Look around the room. While you will only spend a total of 12 days with this group of people over the 9 months, you will learn a lot about them. Together, you will workshop through each others career and personal goals. You will learn about, make, and sip (lots) of beers together.  In the future, some people in this room will become great mentors, friends and business acquaintances.

At the end of the three day session you will be tired. You have just spent many hours in classrooms, and touring hop farms and distribution warehouses. You deserved some cold beers and you had some. It was a great 3 days.  At the end of the 4th session you will feel accomplished. You now have the tools you need to be successful in this booming industry. No matter if your plans are to open your own brewery, manage a marketing department, or fill the role of district sales manager, you will be the person for the job. You will be prepared. You will have the resources, connections and gumption to get the job done. You will be a BBI Graduate.

So go ahead, Beverage Business Institute class of 2014, pat yourself on the back. You made a great decision in enrolling in the 3rd cohort of the program and have now embarked on an amazing quest for knowledge. There are not many people in the world like you, and I can’t wait to shake your hand as a fellow alumni.

For more information on how to the Beverage Business Institute or how to register, please visit their website. While the program begins next week, it meets for 3 days every 3 months and participants can join at anytime.

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Local Breweries Raise the Roof

This edition of our Tuesday Contributor series is written by Amanda Johnson-King, the Marketing Manager for Odell Brewing Company. 

I’ve been fortunate enough to work in the craft beer world for 12 years now. One of the best things about this industry is the camaraderie and community spirit. I can’t think of a better example than The House that Beer Built Project. This fall, 8 Fort Collins craft breweries joined forces with the Fort Collins Habitat for Humanity and Community Funded to HTBB_Logo_Frontengage their community and rebuild a home for a local family who lost theirs in last year’s High Park Fire.

The breweries and Habitat are hoping the local beer loving community will help them raise money to fund the “bricks and sticks,” and then the groups will gather together to actually build the home side by side. Community Funded has given this project a home, and each brewery, as well as many other local businesses, has offered great rewards for folks who contribute. A donation can get you a growler, bag of coffee or even a private brew day. This allows many people to contribute just what they can to the cause and still be a part of something great.

HTBB Ground Blessing

Ground Breaking at the build site.

There are other ways to participate and help. Each brewery has also brewed a special “House that Beer Built” beer, and pint proceeds of these beers will go to the project. Another fun way to give back is to “give it to a brewer.” On August 17th, during the New West Fest fun, local brewers will take their turn in the Dunkelwiess Dunk Tank at Equinox brewing, so warm up that pitching arm and soak some locals in icy cold brew!

I’ve been inspired by this project from day one! It’s wonderful to see our local beer community come together for the betterment of our home town and the people who live here. Habitat for Humanity plans to break ground on the house in late August or early September so the family can get settled before the holidays. Check out the Community Funded page for updates and to contribute, or the Habitat blog for other fun ways to join in the fun.

More About Amanda:

Amanda Johnson-King graduated from Colorado StateIMG_1872 University in 2000, after developing a taste for craft beer and an admiration for the passion that goes into making it. She’s now the marketing manager for Odell Brewing Company and has been with the brewery for 12 years. When she’s not singing the praises of tasty brews (or running her four kids around) she enjoys hiking and camping, cooking (often with beer), and traveling to new beer destinations.

 

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Session 2.3 of the Beverage Business Institute

The second session of Colorado State University’s Beverage Business Institute will reconvene next week on June 5, 6 and 7. This program is designed to give professionals an in-depth education on the beverage industry. 16 participants will meet for the 3rd time for courses with a focus on business management.

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New to this session, the courses will be located on site for most of the three days. American Eagle Distributing and Odell Brewing company are playing host and also offering hands-on experiences for participants. American Eagle will host a tour of their newly renovated warehouse after Ken Smith of Boston Beer Company provides a talk on the history and future of beer. Odell Brewing Company is opening their brew house to offer a chance to brew on their pilot system. The day at Odell Brewing will end with a keynote speech from their own Wynne Odell.

odelllogoOther courses will include inventory management and demand management taught by CSU faculty. Other professionals offering courses include Antoinette Williams of Coca-cola (sales management) and Christina Schlachter of She Leads (meeting management).  In addition, on-site tours of High Hops Brewery and Equinox Brewing will be offered.

The Beverage Business Institute meets for three days every 3 months. Completion of all four courses offers participants a certificate in Brewing Operations Management or Beverage Business Management. This not for credit course is a great opportunity for industry professionals and those looking to get into the industry to gain a competitive advantage.

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How to buy tickets for the Connoiseurs Tasting event

Last year one of the highlights of my summer was the Connoisseurs Tasting event put on by Choice City Butcher and Deli the Friday before the Colorado Brewers’ Festival. While the festival the next day was full of flagship and standard beers, owner Russ Robinson was able to use his role in the beer community to obtain some truly amazing beers for the Connoisseurs Tasting, an event he holds annually. Plus, these great beers were paired with delectable bites from Choice City Butcher and Deli.

This year, the Connoisseurs Tasting is happening not once, but twice.

It was a beautiful night at last years Connoisseurs Tasting

It was a beautiful night at last years Connoisseurs Tasting

The Downtown Business Association  is putting on the event without Choice City Butcher and Deli. Without Choice City’s permission, they took the idea that Russ has spent the last 5 years developing and evolving and are now using it as their own idea to help fund their organization.

The Colorado Brewers’ Festival is the biggest fundraiser for the DBA and helps fund other events such as First Night Fort Collins and St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. In 2009, nearly 20,000 people packed the festival, but caused issues with local businesses and had to be moved. Since then, attendance has dropped to nearly half, leaving the DBA without much needed funding. While I support the DBA’s efforts in the community, and the Colorado Brewers’ Festival, the way they are choosing to go about recovering that lost revenue is appalling.

The Downtown Business Association is an organization meant to promote and support our local businesses, not poach off their success and hard work. This past week, the DBA  sent out emails to all of its members, declaring the week before the Colorado Brewers’ Festival as “beer week” and encouraging businesses to hold special promotions, events and more in support of our beer community. But where is the DBA’s support?

According to Robinson, the DBA did not contact him about any sort of collaboration efforts to host the event. He only found out that his event was taken when he was tipped off by members of the beer community. Robinson was already in the planning stages of his event, which he intends to host at The Aggie Theater, where it has been held in previous years. When speaking with a local brewer, who wishes to remain anonymous, when he was contacted about supplying beer for the Connoisseurs Tasting, he was lead to believe that this was the same event that Choice City has hosted for the last 4 years.

When you purchase your tickets for this years Connoisseurs Tasting event, make sure you are purchasing the tickets from Choice City Butcher and Deli to support the event they have spent years crafting.

Tickets for the 4th Annual Connoisseurs Tasting go on sale Wednesday June 5th and you can purchase them at Choice City Butcher and Deli!

Messages left with the Downtown Business Association have not been returned. 

UPDATE: Statement from the DBA

For 24 years there has been a Friday night event before the Colorado Brewers’ Festival called “Brewers’ Dinner”. It has historically been a chance for just industry professionals to connect and socialize. 

Over the years, the public has asked for more chances to interact with their favorite brewers and taste specialty and exclusive Colorado beer. 

A few years ago a connoisseur event was created by Choice City Butcher and Deli, this seemed to be a great opportunity for collaboration. Last year, we partnered with Choice City Butcher and Deli on an exclusive public beer tasting event. It was successful in bringing beer geeks and media together with our Colorado brewers and industry professionals, and filled a much needed element of the Colorado Brewers’ Festival. 

Unfortunately this year, we will both be doing independent events to celebrate Colorado beer. So out of respect, we are changing the name of our Friday night event to “All Brewers’ Eve”. 

It is a great chance to meet with brewers and taste some of the premium brews Colorado has to offer. Here’s to a great 2013!

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