Tag Archives: Fort Collins Brewery

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.




Filed under Beer News

A New Taste in Beer: New Planet’s take on GF Beer

This Tuesday Contributor Series post is written by Irene Nissen, a regular contributor of Napa of Beer. Find her other articles here. 

I had the opportunity to visit with Peter Archer, the Marketing Manager for New Planet Beer, at their headquarters in Boulder, Colorado. Peter contacted me after seeing my post on where to find Gluten Free beers in Fort Collins.

In 2003 New Planet’s founder, Pedro Gonzales, was diagnosed with Photo #1celiac disease. Consuming gluten at even 5 parts per million (ppm) will knock him out. He couldn’t stand any other GF beers that were on the market, so that was his inspiration to start New Planet. New Planet has been distributed statewide in Colorado since 2010, and is currently in 40 core states, with 66 distributors. Their operations are based in Boulder, CO with 5 employees and their beer is brewed and bottled in Fort Collins at the Fort Collins Brewery.

Currently New Planet distributes 5 distinctly different ale sets. Their Blonde Ale was their original beer, and previously was known as Tread Lightly Ale. In August New Planet started labeling all their beers by style versus a name. This decision was made to make the process of choosing a beer simpler for the consumer. When it comes to craft brews people like to know what they are drinking, and especially when someone is trying to choose a gluten free beer, they want to know how it directly compares.

One of the most difficult parts of brewing gluten free beer is how to make beer out of ingredients that don’t taste like beer. Sorghum has a very distinctive flavor that can be hard to disguise. One of the expressions that Peter likes to use when talking about New Planet’s brewing style is that they are “using non-traditional beer ingredients to create a beer experience.”

Up until about 4 years ago all gluten-free beers were lagers. Budweiser was the most popular beer and Photo #2therefore gluten-free brewers decided to make the Budweiser for the sorghum world. This is often times why you hear that GF beers suck; you can’t make a good GF lager using sorghum.

The biggest knock on GF beers is that they are not flavorful, so New Planet strives to offer the entire flavor progression in their beers.

Their Blonde Ale is a super light, easy drinking ale brewed with sorghum.  Corn is added for more texture and mouth feel without adding more fermentable sugar and helps to keep the stability of the flavor profiles. A little orange peel is also added for a citrus pop on the finish and to clear out the sorghum taste.

Their Raspberry Ale is made more like a light drinking wine or cider. It is brewed with sorghum, corn, orange peel and raspberry puree from organic, sustainably grown raspberries in Oregon.

Their Belgium Ale is the only America made Belgian that is 100% GF. It is brewed with traditional Belgium Ale Yeast, Madhava organic wildflower honey from Longmont and spiced with Cinnamon and Vanilla to give a cinnamon and peppery finish.

Their Amber Ale is meant to be similar to a standard American amber ale. It is made with a little brown rice extract and molasses to help change the texture and format of the beer. It doesn’t have quite the hop load as a lot of Colorado amber ales, and not as much of the malt back, but there is a nice texture across the middle, and Cascade is used for the finishing hop to give you a nice crisp bite.

With their Pale Ale, they set out to the make the hoppiest 100% GF Pale Ale in the industry. Sorghum is not a great stable base, so it’s hard to balance out. They couldn’t just throw a bunch of hops at it, as it would have resulted in an unbalanced beer with a very bitter flavor. The result is a GF beer with a much bigger mouth feel and more flavor than most GF beers; they describe it as a very assertive beer and it is their #1 seller across the country.

They are also working on a Brown Ale, although it is not commercially available yet. The difficult part of brewing a GF Brown Ale is that sorghum cannot be roasted. So how do you create the experience of a big brown ale without any of the traditional ingredients? Their head brewer had the idea of using Brazilian Coffee and Cocoa to add texture, give mouth feel and add a roasted flavor. The result was a delicious brown ale that you would never guess is a GF beer.Photo #3

The choice to brew 100% GF from start to finish, versus traditionally brewing beer that is “gluten-removed” is something that Pedro feels very passionately about. In gluten-removed beer, the protein chain gets chopped up so small that it becomes difficult for tests to detect. Individuals with Celiac have a limit of what they can take; so “gluten-removed” beer can be dangerous.  The only way to ensure that a product is gluten free is to brew it from start to finish gluten free. New Planet wants their customers to not even have to think about it when they choose their beer. They are extremely passionate about transparency and believe that people need to know what they are ingesting.

Recently the FDA ruled that a product made either from gluten-free grains or from gluten-containing grains, that has undergone a process to reduce the amount of gluten, could be called gluten free if it has less than 20 ppm of gluten. Pedro believes “there is a lot of miscommunication going on, so anything you can do to help the consumer decide is ideal.” New Planet includes the full nutrition and ingredient information on all their bottles. This is not required in the U.S. for alcohol products.

The FDA believes that in order for consumers with Celiac to have an array of foods to choose from they cannot lower the 20 ppm rule, otherwise food and beverage manufacturers may shy away from making GF foods. However if down the road they can find information showing that they can test lower than 20 ppm and people are being affected by less than 20 ppm they may lower this standard. The government is always working to find the middle ground and the important thing is to educate the consumer so they can make the best decision for them. As it stands right now if a GF beer is labeled gluten-free, is it “gluten-free.” While New Planet is comPhoto #4pletely GF, they cannot label it as such since the tests do not go that low.

New Planet caters to three different consumers. There are the 50+ late diagnoses Celiac consumers who gave up beer a long time ago, the young consumer Celiac who wants to drink craft beers and wants choices on styles, and the Gluten Free by Choice (GFBC) consumer who is trying to decide if they should drink a traditionally brewed craft beer and cheat, or drink a gluten free beer. By offering 5 district styles and flavor profiles for consumer to choose from New Planet offers a safe, gluten-free alternative for a wide range of consumers.

If you would like to taste New Planet’s beers and learn more about their passion for brewing GF, their newly opened tasting room is located at 6560 Odell Place, Unit D, in Boulder CO and is open every other Friday trough the end of October from 4:00-6:00 pm.

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Filed under Beer Review, Brewery, Irene Nissen, Tuesday Contributors