Brewers are going to have to factor in off or bad beer, Executive Chair of New Belgium Brewing Kim Jordan said in her keynote speech at the IBA’s inaugural BrewCon 2018.
“Quality has to be not only table stakes, but part of our collective legacy,” Jordan said.
She raised brewers’ concerns for quality, and the collective imperative for all indie craft brewers to know their beers.
“Do you have written flavour standards for all of your beers? Do you know the shelf life of your beers when stored in optimal conditions? How about in sub-optimal conditions?
“Is your sensory program developed enough that you have a high degree of confidence in your beers perceived quality,” she questioned.
“Do you have go/no-go conversations about your beer every step of the way? You can’t let up on this stuff.”
“Jim Koch said years ago at a conference that if you’re not budgeting for bad and out-of-date beer you really are not committed to quality.
“There should be a line item on your P and L for out-of-date and bad beer, because it happens. We make a living food and we have to be honest and free ourselves up to admit that sometimes you have to pull beer.”
She said this affects the whole industry.
“One of the themes is that anything that one of us does affects all of us, in a lot of ways.”
“Make no mistake, that affects all of us in this industry who are independent.”
Jordan said the American craft beer landscape has been crazy with a huge change in the business model.
“We typically had a production brewery or a brewpub, but now brewers are selling beer over their own bar, which has turned the industry on its head.”
Jordan looked at this and the move towards on-premise service and raises the importance of a collective, but said she is trying to suspend judgement on whether or not brewers should remain independent, because “all entrepreneurs need an exit strategy”.
Nevertheless, Jordan says that the IBA’s shift to focus on independence was “wise” and “a big deal”.
“We possess incredible stories as independent brewers, we’re amazing touch stones, we support a lot of varied causes and events and commitments to all kinds of interesting business practices… And we have distinctive facial hair.”
She reiterated, “The big brewers can’t own that, borrow it or buy it.”
“We need to continue to terrify the dinosaur, because I think that the independent seal, the coming together as a community as independent brewers is really important to our future, you know success as a collective.”
“Not only do we have to have a vision for where we want to go, so that we can be enduring, but know that we’re all in this together.”
With craft beer a small percentage of the beer market in Australia, Jordan told the IBA member-breweries to really understand that percentage, to mark their growth, to understand the legislative powers that influence the business, and talk to the press about what they are and what they stand for.
“You all own this collective brand called Australian Independent Craft Brewers.”
BrewCon 2018 continues…