Bob Pease’s advice to craft brewers

If you’re not familiar with the Brewers Association it’s a non-profit organisation representing craft brewers in the USA which exists, “to promote and protect American craft brewers, their beers and the community of brewing enthusiasts.” It does so with an incredible passion which seems to be backed up by knowledge, skill and expertise.

BA publications are a brilliant resource
BA publications are a brilliant resource

Like any organisation it’s not perfect and I’ve heard it criticised for changes it’s made over the years to how it defines a craft brewer (the amount of beer produced and use of ‘adjuncts’ in particular have ruffled some feathers) but it produces some brilliant and informative leaflets and booklets for the trade and the drinker; carries out some excellent work to promote beer (in the US and beyond) and also organises the Great American Beer Festival and the World Beer Cup.

Basically it’s a force for good – the good of beer, brewing and those which love the two – and it’s an organisation held in high esteem within the beer industry on both sides of the Atlantic. So when I met Brewers Association CEO Bob Pease at SIBA’s Beer X last month I asked him what three pieces of advice he’d give to craft brewers, at home and here in the UK, on how to succeed and keep the craft beer revolution alive…

Bob Pease of the Brewers Association
Bob Pease of the Brewers Association

Brewers Association CEO Bob Pease’s top tips for craft brewers

1: Never lose sight of who is driving the craft beer revolution. [W]e firmly believe in the Brewers Association that the craft brewing revolution is driven by the beer drinker. It’s not being driven by the Brewers Association, it’s not being driven by SIBA, it’s really not even being driven by the brewers. It’s driven by the beer drinker – and we like to refer to our fans as beer drinkers.

They are not ‘consumers’ and we don’t make ‘product’. We make beer… and we interact with the beer drinker.

2: Quality, quality, quality. With the emergence of so many entrants into the market, which I believe is a positive, [it] means that your beer better stand up. The days of it being a novelty are gone.

[Y]ou need to put emphasis into your quality control; you need to have a lab; you need to have somebody who understands microbiology at your brewery and you need to make sure that you do more than just pay lip service to it.

3: Unity… stick together. I’m not going to say it’s us versus them but … at least in the United States, there are two different beer worlds. There is the large brewers, who do a fine job of making one or two or maybe three styles of beer – and they are serving a need, but there is another emerging group that is the small and independent local craft brewers. That is who the beer drinker is connecting with.

[S]o, stick together and remember that we are stronger, together we are heavy… we can do great things and we are doing great things. When you see what’s happened in the beer landscape in my country, and in the UK, we have changed history and it’s pretty exciting to see.