Distinguished Professionals Speak on the Evolving Industry
We are honored to have trailblazers, trendsetters and rising stars join us on stage. They speak at Brewbound Live because they’re focused on the future of the beer industry. Expect a first-rate speaker roster delivering the highest quality business discussions. Our on-stage content is specifically designed with founders, C-level executives, and decision-makers in mind.
Main Stage Speakers
20+ speakers will take the Brewbound Live stage this December.
Co-Founder & COO, The Lost Abbey,Port Brewing & The Hop Concept
Director of Product Development, Deschutes Brewery
Veronica Vega is the Director of Product Development at Deschutes Brewery, the 10th largest craft brewery in the U.S. Veronica is a member of the senior leadership team at Deschutes and brings a high level of expertise to the brewery’s daily operations as well as the strategic vision for the company. She started at Deschutes in 2006 as a tour guide and in 2015, at the age of 35, Veronica became the Brewmaster of Product Development and is now in one of the top positions in the company as Director of Product Development. Veronica is a member of the Master Brewers Association of Americas, shares her passion for brewing and beer in many respected speaking engagements and has been highlighted in several craft brewing and lifestyle publications. Veronica is extremely creative, enthusiastic and passionate not only about craft beer and brewing, but in her life and activities outside of her career as well. Veronica is very involved in the brewing community and is a mentor for many women both in and out of the industry. Veronica is devoted to her husband and two children, her passion for farming and outdoor recreation and her Deschutes Brewery family. Veronica can be reached at email@example.com.
CEO, Stone Brewing
Dominic Engels is Chief Executive Officer of Stone Brewing, the 9th largest independent craft brewer in the United States by volume and 3rd largest by revenue. Engels joined Team Stone in September of 2016 from The Wonderful Company, where he held multiple leadership positions over more than 11 years. Most recently, Engels held the position of President at POM Wonderful where he was responsible for leading the global pomegranate business, including POM Wonderful Pomegranate juice. Prior to his role as POM President, he lived in Waterloo, Belgium, where he ran the European and Middle East region for POM Wonderful pomegranate juice and Wonderful Pistachios. Before the European post, Engels held the position of Vice President of Global Marketing/General Manager of Wonderful Pistachios & Almonds, where he led the launch and development of The Wonderful Pistachios brand - now a billion dollar retail brand. He started his career at the Wonderful Company advising on mergers and acquisitions as Director of Corporate Development & Strategic Marketing. Prior to Wonderful, Engels’ career included operational and managerial roles in the golf industry (Armour Golf, Spalding / Top-Flite), management consulting (McKinsey & Co.) and retail (The Gap). Engels is a graduate of Dartmouth College where, convenient for his new role at Stone, he studied German culture and society. He earned his MBA in finance, strategy and marketing at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. Engels spends his weekends with his wife and three boys on the sidelines of club soccer games by day and with a few glasses of Stone Ruination 2.0 Double IPA Sans Filtre or Stone Enjoy By IPA by night.
Former Diversity & Inclusion Director, Founders Brewing Co.
Graci Harkema, former Diversity & Inclusion Director of Founders Brewing Co., is a Diversity & Inclusion Consultant with graci LLC. She specializes in equity and inclusive leadership training within beverage, technology, and Fortune 100 industries. She is dedicated to driving inclusion and integrating diversity to ensure an open and safe work environment. She helps evolve strategies to attract and engage a diverse and inclusive workforce and workplace. Graci is committed to empowering employees to perform to their potential as their authentic selves. She partners with clients to help them achieve successful business results by maximizing talent and inclusion strategies. Graci is passionate about serving her community by volunteering her time on LGBTQ non-profit boards and committees in Michigan. She is recognized as a “40 Under Forty Business Leader of West Michigan” by Grand Rapids Business Journal and has her Bachelor’s degree in Communications from Grand Valley State University.
co-founder, Bissell Brothers
Co-founder, Fresh Fest
Day Bracey is proudly from Braddock Beach, along the Monongahela River. He has toured the country as a comedian, been immortalized in the Smithsonian as co-host of the Drinking Partners podcast, helped showcase new and established talent as the Standup Director for Pittsburgh Comedy Festival, bridged gaps & made history as the co-founder of America's first Black brew festival Fresh Fest, added to the cacophony of voices in the beer industry with his column Day Drinking in The Pittsburgh Current, & is co-producer of one of Pittsburgh's longest running stand-up comedy series "A Night of EPIC Comedy."
CEO & Co-Founder, Karl Strauss Brewing Company
Chris Cramer has been a pioneer in the craft brewing industry for more than 30 years. When Chris and his college buddy, Matt Rattner, co-founded Karl Strauss Brewing Company in 1989, it was the first new brewery to open in the City of San Diego since Prohibition. Since then, the Karl Strauss locations have grown to include a main production brewery, a tasting room & beer garden, and ten brewpubs throughout Southern California. Karl Strauss is one of the top 50 craft breweries in the United States, while still only distributing in its home state of “Karlifornia”! Chris is the current Chair of the California Craft Brewers Association and a community activist who has personally championed many business and legislative reforms that helped pave the way for San Diego to become the world’s capital for craft beer. He takes particular pride in having introduced many Californians to their first craft beer, and his passion for continued innovation ensures that many new fans will have that same opportunity for years to come.
VP of Innovation, MillerCoors
In late 2017, Colucci took over marketing the No. 2 U.S. brewer’s innovation portfolio. She’s been busy. She led the successful April 2019 launch of Cape Line Sparkling Cocktails, which ranked among the category’s top ten growth brands for 14 weeks, according to Nielsen. She also spearheaded the launch of MoVo wine spritzers and the push behind a La Colombe branded hard cold-brew coffee drink for fall. A year earlier, she spearheaded the successful national rollout of Arnold Palmer Spiked, another innovative co-branded product. If that seems like a lot in a little time, it’s because she’s worked to make the brewer more agile, in one case cutting 10 months off the usual timeline for a national launch. Prior to joining MillerCoors, Sofia spent seven years at PepsiCo in a variety of roles, including leading innovation for its North American Nutrition portfolio, which includes brands such as Tropicana, Quaker and Naked Juice. The Canadian-Uruguayan Colucci began her career at Toronto-based Maple Leaf Foods. She’s fluent in Spanish and her out of office interests include music, food, fitness and travel.
Co-Owner & Co-Founder, Austin Beerworks
Adam DeBower is co-owner of and co-founder of Austin Beerworks, a small regional craft brewery based in Austin, TX. Adam and his 3 partners opened Austin Beerworks in early 2011 and the brewery has since grown to nearly 60 employees and produces more than 20,000 bbls of beer annually. Austin Beerworks is also the largest wholly self-distributed brewery in the state of Texas. A brewer by trade, Adam is currently the Operations Manager for the brewery and oversees the engineering, installation, and maintenance of major plant equipment. Adam also serves on the Board of Directors for the Texas Craft Brewers Guild. He was first elected in 2015, has been Vice-Chair of the board since 2017, and has served as the Guild's Legislative Committee chair since 2017. Most notably, Adam led the Guild's 2019 legislative efforts to modernize Texas' outdated and byzantine alcoholic beverage code, and successfully advocated to legalize beer-to-go sales for Texas Craft Brewers.
Co-founder and CEO, Monday Night Brewing
Jeff Heck co-founded Monday Night Brewing in Atlanta, GA in 2011. The company began when a small group Bible study started homebrewing in Jeff’s garage socially, and has grown to a two (soon-to-be-three) taproom operation distributing across the Southeast, with nearly 50 full-time employees. In his role as CEO, Heck oversees all aspects of Monday Night’s operations and strategy, with the aim of fulfilling the company’s purpose of “deepening human relationships over some of the best beer in the country.” A native of Cincinnati, OH, Heck graduated from Harvard University and spent over 10 years in private equity and corporate M&A before co-founding Monday Night. He and his wife of 15 years have four children and live just a mile from the brewery in Atlanta.
Co-founder, Brewmaster, Reuben's Brews
Since moving from the UK in 2004, Adam was blown away by the diversity and quality of the brews in the Pacific Northwest. As a home brewer, Adam and Grace poured their beer at the 2010 PNA Winter Beer Taste and won First Place in the People's Choice. Then the brewing bug took over and Adam continued to hone his craft and he won several more awards, including a Silver Medal at the 2012 National Homebrew Competition, and attended UC Davis. This all led to the desire to share his brews with more people and the opening of Reuben's Brews in August 2012.
VP, Beverage Alcohol Practice, Nielsen
As Vice President of Nielsen’s Beverage Alcohol Practice, Danelle provides industry thought leadership and best practice solutions to beer, wine, and spirits clients, industry groups, and the media. She is committed to leveraging Nielsen’s breadth of resources to provide an integrated and holistic understanding of consumer behavior and retail trends across beer, wine, and spirits. Danelle has more than 15 years of marketing experience, and has been with Nielsen for over 10 years, working across various clients in the food, beverage, and consumer goods industries. Prior to joining the Beverage Alcohol Practice, Danelle led Nielsen’s business at MillerCoors in Chicago. Danelle received her MBA from the University of Pittsburgh, and her BA in International Studies and Economics from Allegheny College in Pennsylvania.
CEO & co-founder, Cape May Brewing Company
CEO and co-founder of Cape May Brewing Company, Ryan Krill, is a graduate of Villanova University with a Master’s degree from New York University. Having begun his professional career in the field of finance and real estate development, he quickly climbed the corporate ladder, becoming Vice President of Commercial Workouts for Manhattan’s Banco Santander before the age of 30. In 2011, he gave up his six-figure salary, forming Cape May Brewing Company with his father and college friend, creating the first production brewery at the Jersey shore. In just over eight years, Cape May Brewing Company has become one of the largest producers of craft beer in the state, earning over fifty awards for their beers, their business, and for their CEO in the process. With nearly a hundred employees at the Cape May Airport, Cape May Brewing Company has been self-distributed since opening their doors, creating Cape Beverage in 2019, spinning off their successful sales and distribution departments into a separate business entity. Ryan was named as one of NJBiz's 40 Under 40, and also serves on the board of the Brewers Association Government Affairs Committee, on the Executive Board of the Beer Institute, the Cape May County Chamber of Commerce, and as a member of the Lower Township Economic Development Committee, is a TED(x) talk alum. He has lived and worked in Spain, California, and New York City, and has traveled to over 40 countries, tasting craft beer wherever he goes. When he’s not working or exploring, he’s flying small planes as an instrument-rated pilot, cooking, or spending time with his beautiful wife Kaysi and their newborn son, Radley.
Vice President of Sales, Kiva Confections
Brian has 17 years of sales and distribution experience in cannabis and craft beer and is a proven leader with experience building sales and logistics teams, national account strategy, and brand development. Prior to Kiva, Brian spent 16 years in craft beer leading sales and distribution strategies for the leading craft beer organizations including Stone Brewing Co. (Sr. Director Sales), Golden Road Brewing (VP Sales), and Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. After developing Stone Brewing’s national account strategy as Director of National Accounts he most recently lead Stone Distributing as the largest craft only distributor on the west coast, 2nd largest in the United States, managing a portfolio of 40 craft breweries, 90 sales professionals and logistics teams reaching Southern & Central California. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Organizational Theory from Arizona State University.
Manager, Bev Alcohol Practice Area, Nielsen
Caitlyn Battaglia is a Manager within Nielsen's Beverage Alcohol Practice Area, where she supports Nielsen's initiatives and thought leadership across beer, wine, and spirits clients. She has been with the Practice Area for more than three years. Prior to joining the Beverage Alcohol Practice Area, Battaglia worked in advanced analytics focusing on pricing and promotion as well as sales and marketing effectiveness. A current Roanoke, VA resident, she holds a B.A. from Denison University and has been with Nielsen for over six years.
Chief Economist, NBWA
Lester Jones tracks the economic factors that impact the beer distribution industry and alcohol policy decisions at the federal, state and local levels. He evaluates and develops primary industry data, including economic impact, tax impacts, sales and volume data. Jones has more than 20 years of experience in research, survey methodology and applied economics. He previously served as chief economist at the Beer Institute, where he developed and executed significant research initiatives that helped shape America’s beer industry. Jones also has become a respected public speaker, offering in-depth technical, analytical and quantitative expertise. In addition to his decade of work at the Beer Institute, Jones previously worked for Arbitron Company (Nielsen) in Columbia, Maryland, and the Regional Economic Studies Institute in Towson, Maryland. Jones holds a Master of Science in Economics from the University of Delaware as well as a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from the University of Maryland Baltimore County.
Managing Director, Cascadia Capital
Nicole Nugent Fry is a Managing Director in Cascadia Capital’s Food, Beverage and Agribusiness group, focused on supporting Cascadia’s beverage clients. Nicole has over twenty years of experience providing M&A and capital raising advisory services to middle market clients in the consumer sector. Prior to joining Cascadia, Nicole was a Managing Director at First Beverage Financial, which merged with Cascadia in March 2018. In recent years, Nicole has been very active in the craft beer segment, having recently advised Ss Brewtech in its sale to The Middleby Corporation, Avery Brewing in its structured sale to Mahou San Miguel, 21st Amendment and Funkwerks in their respective investments from Brooklyn Brewery, Four Peaks Brewing Company in its sale to Anheuser-Busch InBev and both Saint Archer and Revolver Brewing in their respective sales to MillerCoors.
Sales Director, NUG
Ted Whitney is a seasoned sales professional with deep experience in the craft beer industry. He transitioned to the cannabis industry to serve as Sales Director of vertically integrated cannabis brand NUG and develop a highly effective sales team focused on developing a meaningful and rewarding place for its members to thrive. Before joining Oakland, CA-based NUG, he built out Avery Brewing Company’s sales program in Boulder, CO and expanded the organization’s footprint nationally. Following his role as Sales Director at Avery, Ted worked as National Sales Director for 21st Amendment in San Francisco, growing the brewer’s sales team and developing various programs that increased demand for craft beer. There, he hired and led a 30-person sales team and helped the organization become one of the fastest-growing breweries in the country. After just two years under Ted’s supervision, 21st Amendment moved from its position as 150th to being ranked the 38th largest craft brewer of nearly 6,500 brewers at the time. Most recently, Ted served as National Sales Director and Partner at Melvin Brewing, growing the organization’s sales team and playing an integral role in helping it become the third brewer ever to reach 20,000 beer barrels in sales in less than two years.
VP of Operations, Theory Wellness
Beverage Director, Taco Mac
Ryan Blevins is the Beverage Director for Taco Mac, the South’s home for Beer, Wings and Sports. With 26 locations and growing, Taco Mac has the greatest selection of Craft on Draft you will find anywhere with restaurants that have 100 draft lines and over 100 bottle and can selections. As Beverage Director, Ryan leads the VIBE award winning Best Beer Program by continuing to innovate and take risks. Prior to taking over the Beverage program, he was the Director of Culinary for Taco Mac. Ryan grew up in Virginia and now resides in Atlanta, GA with his 2 children Heather and Daniel.
Representative, Texas House of Representatives
Eddie Rodriguez represents District 51 in the Texas House of Representatives, a diverse district spanning from urban neighborhoods in East Austin to rural communities in Southeast Travis County. He was first elected to represent District 51 in 2002 and was re-elected to his ninth term in office in November 2018. Eddie serves on the House Committees on Calendars, State Affairs and Ways & Means in the 86th Texas Legislature, playing a central role in influencing some of the most significant bills before the state legislature and controlling their flow through the legislative process. His accomplishments in the most recent legislative session included changing the law to allow "Beer-to-Go" sales by Texas craft brewers, expanding the state's cottage food law and expanding options for survivors of family violence to terminate their leases in order to escape threatening situations. Rep. Rodriguez is a co-founder and chair of the Texas House Farm-to-Table Caucus and the first-ever policy chair of the Mexican American Legislative Caucus. His legislative priorities include affordability, economic development & job creation, public education, voting rights, improving nutrition & reducing hunger, gun safety, fighting for equality, protecting the environment and ensuring that all Texans have access to quality, affordable healthcare.
President, Beer Alliance of Texas
President and Chief Executive Office of The Beer Alliance of Texas, L.L.C. a major statewide trade association. Duties include responsibility for government affairs focusing on the Texas Legislature. Rick is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and is an active member of Champions Golf Club where he will be serving on the Executive Committee of The United States Golf Association 2020 Women’s Open Championship. Rick is also a Life Member of the National Eagle Scout Association. He and his wife Sheila, have two children Michael and Amanda. Two grandchildren Skylor and Riley.
Operations Track Speakers
The following speakers will present during the Operations Track on day one of Brewbound Live.
Director of Marketing, Sufferfest Beer Company
After years of experience in the B2B Tech and E-Commerce, Margaret transitioned into building a consumer-focused brand at Sufferfest Beer Company. Motivated to disrupt one of the oldest industries in America, marketing a women- and athlete-focused beer brand allows for equally innovative and disruptive marketing strategies to capture and inspire the consumer. She has built an engaged community within the "better for you" movement, advocating for the role of beer in the fit and active consumer's beverage lineup. Sufferfest was acquired in early 2019 by Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, where Margaret maintains her role as Director of Marketing. When she’s not waxing poetic about booze, Margaret’s out earning her brew on the trails as a runner or in the gym as a yoga teacher.
President, Sales, Brew Pipeline
Marty helped build two well-known field teams from scratch during stints with both Oskar Blues Brewery and Ninkasi Brewing Co. Founder of E3 Craft Strategies, he consulted with craft brewers on branding, annual business plans, core competencies, and responsibilities within sales, supply chain, key account operations, and marketing. Going on his forth year, Marty instructs a course on sales and distribution for Portland State university in their Beer Business certificate program. Today, Marty leads a team of regional sales directors at Brew Pipeline, focusing on innovative revenue generation for breweries, retailers and distributors.
Soul Founder & Funk Strategist, Turn It Up Media
After successfully elevating the Oskar Blues Brewery brand nationally for over a decade, Chad Melis has become a brand of marketing professional uniquely his own. Chad Melis was the driving marketing force growing Oskar Blues Brewery from a small Colorado craft brewery of 13,000 bbls. to an iconic national brand in all 50 states, producing over 200,000 bbls. at his departure. As the company grew he took on the Marketing Director role with CANarchy Craft Brewery Collective, playing a key role developing and announcing the CANarchy go to market strategy and narrative as they approached 500,000 bbls. In July of 2018 Chad and his wife Marily started “Turn It Up Media”, their own Brand Strategy/Sales & Marketing Integration, Media Relations and Content Development company, CANarchy became their first client. With PR savvy and an uncanny knack for brand strategy, Chad has an iron-clad grasp on how to provide clients with a road map to meet their individual goals. Chad was the marketing chair for the Colorado Brewers Guild and is a founding (and active) board member of Can’d Aid, a national non-profit that spreads people powered do-goodery through Towns, Tunes, Treads + Trails and Love Yur Mama efforts nationwide.
CPA, CGMA, Principal, Perkins & Co
Activator. Strategist. Leader. An astonishing achiever who transforms passion into action. A sought-after brewery industry finance and accounting expert, Maria grew up in South Carolina. Before she became a CPA, far-flung interests took her to the College of Charleston, where she earned an Arts Management degree and launched her first career in the radio and music industry. Honoring a lifelong love of business, Maria then earned a post-baccalaureate in Accounting from Linfield College shortly after moving to Oregon. Over a decade, she worked as a tax accountant, founded a successful accounting business that served the alcoholic beverage industry, spoke at countless brewery conferences, and recently authored Small Brewery Finance (available October 7, 2019). We couldn’t be happier to have this dynamo at Perkins & Co as our newest Client Accounting Services Principal. Here, you’ll find her digging deep to help clients solve problems and build better businesses—that is, when she’s not teaching classes, taking in a concert, admiring professional photography, or traveling the world. There’s little Maria hasn’t done, and undoubtedly far more she has yet to do.
Partner, Harris Beach
Brendan is partner with law firm Harris Beach and based out of in New York. He represents over 160 clients in the alcoholic beverage space including with regard to issues ranging from trademark to distribution contracts to real estate and bankruptcy. He’s been quoted on legal issues in the beer industry in the Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, and San Francisco Chronicle among other places. Brendan is also a dedicated craft beer fan and has been a home brewer for over 10 years. Several of his recipes have even been brewed commercially.
Acceleration Track Speakers
The following speakers will present during the Acceleration Track on day one of Brewbound Live.
CEO & Founder, Ninkasi Brewing
Nikos Ridge is Co-Founder and CEO of Ninkasi Brewing Company. He grew up in Eugene, OR and later moved to the East Coast to attend New York University to pursue an education and career in finance. After graduation, Nikos began working in New York but eventually heard the calling of the Northwest and returned to his hometown in 2003. In 2006, he co-founded Ninkasi Brewing Company with Jamie Floyd. Nikos wore many hats in the early days of the brewery from drafting the very first business plan to providing a one-person local distribution service by loading up every keg and driving it to its final destination in his Ford Ranger to selling in tap handles to brewing and packaging. Working closely with local restaurateurs and bar owners, Nikos quickly established Ninkasi as a craft beer staple in Eugene. In addition to serving as Ninkasi’s CEO, Nikos sits on the Legacy Brewing board. The board helps steer the ship of Ninkasi as well as partnering breweries, including Laurelwood Brewing and Aspen Brewing Company.
CEO & Founder, Legacy Breweries
Don Bryant started his career in the MBA program at Procter & Gamble after graduating from Lehigh University. Within a few years he came to the alcoholic beverage industry becoming National Director of Trade at E&J Gallo Winery and a member of the company’s steering committee for over 10 years. Don then joined Mark Anthony Brands, parent company of Mike’s Hard Lemonade & White Claw as Vice President and helped with their explosive growth period. Don took time to run for office in Washington, being elected as the Political Commission Officer and going to Denver as a delegate for Barack Obama. After the election, he became Chief Executive Officer of Hopunion, a major supplier to the US craft brewing industry leading to the merger of Hopunion and Yakima Chief in 2014. Don served on the Board of Directors of the new combined company representing over 11,000 acres of production and facilities across the US, Europe and Asia. Don is now CEO and General Partner in Legacy Breweries which is investing capital in exceptional US craft breweries to build on their history and continue their momentum in the US craft industry.
Director of Investments, EPR Properties
Derek Werner is Director of Investments at EPR Properties, a real estate investment trust (REIT) based in Kansas City. He is responsible for analyzing new opportunities and maintaining partner relationships. EPR offers unique, flexible financing solutions to first-class operators in the entertainment, recreation, and other experiential sectors. Examples of EPR partners include Alamo Drafthouse, Six Flags, Topgolf, and Vail Resorts. EPR provides long-term capital that helps craft breweries create outstanding consumer experiences and improve cash flow, all while retaining independence and control of operations. Prior to joining EPR, Derek worked at a boutique investment banking firm where he advised middle market companies in a variety of industries.