Business matters were the topics of the first day at the NC Craft Brewers Conference at Greensboro’s Proximity Hotel. Highlights:
Choosing a distributor: Raleigh Attorney Keith Kapp gave an overview of NC franchise law that governs the relationships between brewers and distributors. He and other panelists advised brewers to choose a distributor wisely, entering a relationship with a distributor like it was a marriage.
“If you want a divorce (from your distributor), you have to find out who you want to get hitched to next — they will finance the divorce,” Kapp said.
Brewery accountant Audra Gaiziunas advised brewers to 1) define the type of operation they want to be; 2) design appropriate business systems; 3) define measurable metrics of success; and 4) revisit and revise goals as needed.
Panelists included brewers as well as Dennis Quaintance, developer of the Proximity, the first LEED Platinum hotel when it opened seven years ago, and Eric Henry of TS Designs shirt company in Burlington. Henry told brewers to focus on the triple bottom line: economic, environmental and human capital sustainability “Take care of your people — not just your employees, but also your communities,” he said.
Panelist proposed the idea of brewers improving purchasing power through cooperative purchasing of brewing ingredients, bottles, glassware and more.
Wood barrel aging:
Wicked Weed’s Walt Dickinson and Ian Hughes of Goose Island Brewing (Illinois) described strategies for using bourbon and wine barrels to enhance beer flavors. Highlight: samples of Wicked Weed’s Serenity sour and Goose Island’s Bourbon County Stout, which weighs in at 14.9 AVB. Good stuff!