PAST BREW TALKS SPEAKERS
The Brew Talks GABF 2019 speaker lineup will feature brewery founders and industry executives. Stay tuned for updates.
General Manager, Massachusetts Beverage Alliance
Brian has 15 years of beer and beverage experience. He began working for Coca-Cola Enterprises after graduating college in 1997, and joined Burke Distributing in 1999 as an on-premise merchandising sales representative. During 12-plus years at Burke Distributing, Brian served in many roles including: General Division Sales Supervisor; On Premise Sales Manager; Spirits Category Manager; and Craft and Specialty Import Beer Category Manager. Brian serves as a liaison between existing and prospective Craft and Specialty Import Breweries and Suppliers and the wholesalers’ network that make up the alliance in order to achieve statewide sales and distribution objectives and secure new brand acquisitions. He became a Certified Cicerone® in August, 2012 and is a proud member of the NBWA, Brewer’s Association and American Homebrewers Association. Brian graduated from Bentley College (now Bentley University) in Waltham in 1997 with a BS in Business Marketing.
COO, Left Hand Brewing Company
Chris Lennert is the Chief Operating Officer for Left Hand Brewing Company. Starting in 2005, he has guided the brewery into one of the Top 50 breweries in the U.S. Building & leading strong teams within the brewery is a passion of Chris’ – with over 125 employees at the brewery, effective communication and ‘One Team’ is critical to the brewery’s success. He also is the Captain of Team Left Hand, a network of teams across 6 states with over 500 employees & friend that has raised over $2.2 million for Multiple Sclerosis since 2008. On a person side, Chris has been married to his wife, Heather, for 19 years and has two rough-n-tumble boys, Noah & Evan. He’s worked tirelessly with non-profits for the last decade and a half, from Bike MS to the VP of the Colorado Brewers Guild.
Director of Sustainability & Strategy, New Belgium Brewing
From bottling line to CFO and COO, Jenn’s roles have evolved since her start at New Belgium in 1993. As a B Corporation, New Belgium makes decisions that incorporate impact on planet and people as well as profit and invests in a sustainability team to drive that effort. Jenn leads the team developing and implementing the sustainability management system, corporate responsibility reporting, greenhouse gas accounting, natural resource management, legislative advocacy, and philanthropy. She has a special interest in the intersection of environment, economics, and policy, such as ecosystem services, carbon and water credit markets.
President & COO, CANarchy Craft Brewery Collective
An experienced executive in craft beer, Fraser joined the CANarchy Craft Brewery Collective as Chief Financial Officer (CFO) in July 2015 after spending eight years at Lazard Freres in its middle market advisory group. As CFO, Matt lead all financial matters in collaboration with CANarchy brewery executives including financial reporting and analysis, forecasting and overall budget management. Matt was elevated to Chief Operating Officer (COO) in January 2018 and in May 2018 his role expanded to President of the collective. As President and COO of CANarchy, Fraser leads all business operations in collaboration with the brewery partners and founders across the portfolio of craft breweries, including Cigar City Brewing, Oskar Blues Brewery, Perrin Brewing, Squatters Craft Beer and Wasatch Brewery, Deep Ellum Brewing Company and Three Weavers Brewing.
VP of Sales, Dogfish Head
Todd celebrated his 30th year in the beer industry this summer. He started his career on the wholesaler side of the business as a driver salesman in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Over the next 11 years, he held various roles across two distribution companies in New Mexico, including general manager of New Mexico Beverage in Albuquerque. In 1999 Todd moved to the supplier side of the business, working for Barton Beers. During his 16 years with Barton-Crown-Constellation, he experienced the evolution of the company, and lived in following locales -- Boise, Phoenix, Denver, Northern Virginia and Chicago. During his stint at Constellation Brands, he held vice president, division manager, and sales operations roles. Over the last three years, Todd has served as the vice president of sales at Dogfish Head Craft Brewery.
Senior Director of Finance, Great Divide Brewing Company
Bryan Slekes is the senior director of finance for Great Divide Brewing Company. In this role, Bryan oversees finance, HR, and national sales. Prior to joining Great Divide, Bryan’s background and experience stems from private and public finance, commercial real estate development and sales. In his spare time, Bryan enjoys biking, skiing, and spending time with his family.
Founder and CEO, The Bruery
Patrick Rue is the Founder and CEO of The Bruery, located in Orange County, California. The Bruery -- along with Bruery Terreux and Offshoot Beer Co. -- are widely known for being flavor driven, innovative, and style defying, which in many ways is influenced by Patrick’s love of food and culinary arts. Patrick started his career in brewing after graduating from law school and hasn’t looked back. He is one of 16 individuals to achieve the rank of Master Cicerone.
Co-Founder, Monday Night Brewing
Jeff Heck co-founded Monday Night Brewing in Atlanta, Georgia with his two partners in 2011. The company began when a small group Bible study started homebrewing in his garage socially. 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, Ohio, Heck graduated from Harvard University and spent over 10 years in private equity and M&A before co-founding Monday Night. He and his wife of 14 years have four children and live just a mile from the brewery in Atlanta.
Founder, Calicraft Brewing Company
Blaine Landberg is founder and CEO of Calicraft Brewing Co., an innovative craft beverage company based in Walnut Creek, California. Opened in 2012, Calicraft takes inspiration from the ingredients, places and people of California. With over 18 years of beverage industry experience, Landberg has a strong track record of creating innovative beverages and brands, first with Honest Tea and now with Calicraft. Through Calicraft, Landberg focuses on thoughtful innovation - whether its using locally sourced ingredients such as anise hyssop and wine pomace, engaging in community events and collaboration, or developing new categories of beverages like Sparkling Ales – Calicraft seeks to answer the question: What if beer was created in California?
Donn Bichsel Jr.
Chief Commercial Officer, Revolution Brewing
Donn Bichsel Jr. has been in the beverage industry in some capacity for over 25 years and is in his 18th year on the supplier side. He has been with Revolution Brewing since the production facility first started brewing in the spring of 2012. Donn has spent time with SAB, Goose Island, Heineken/Star Brand Imports and, prior to joining Revolution, he worked with Dogfish Head. Donn is most proud of the Revolution Brewing internship program. Created in 2013 with eight people, it has now grown to add an additional twenty positions seasonally between June and August, and in 2018 it welcomed its fifth class. The yearly program creates people management opportunities for the sales and marketing team, along with a path to stay within the beer industry. He lives in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood with his wife, two daughters and a 100-pound Chocolate Labrador who thinks he is a lap dog.
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.
Co-Founder, Night Shift Brewing
Rob is part of a trio of friends who left their day jobs to follow their passion for brewing. Rob graduated from college with a strong love for craft beer. Post-college Rob worked for 6 plus years in the technology industry in Boston. In early 2012 Rob and his two other Co-Founders launched Night Shift Brewing in Everett, MA. For the past 5+ years Rob has lead the brewing team at Night Shift pushing for innovation and the creation of unique world class beers. In the fall of 2016 Rob and his Co-Founders launched a second business venture, Night Shift Distributing. Rob now leads this disruptive beer wholesale operation. Rob also serves as a the President of the Board of Directors for the Massachusetts Brewers Guild where he works to protect and promote the state's brewing industry.
Leah Wong Ashburn
Family Owner, President, Highland Brewing
Leah is a second-generation family owner of Highland Brewing Company. Her father, Oscar Wong, founded the company in the sleepy town of Asheville in 1994, when Leah was two years out of school. After being turned down by her father for a job, she found a career in the printing industry in Charlotte, always with an eye on Highland and a drop of ownership. She turned down the same brewery job years later, as she enjoyed city life and financial success. But life priorities change, and in 2011, fleeing the nice income and abundant free time, she joined the family business. Leah began at Highland as a sales representative and board member, eventually moving into Marketing and Administrative leadership. Today she serves as President, living happily in Asheville with her husband Brock with occasional visits from her two terrific stepdaughters.
COO, Devils Backbone
Hayes Humphreys serves as the Chief Operating Officer at Devils Backbone Brewing Company, Virginia's largest craft brewery. His interest in Craft Beer was spawned by a visit to the always irreverent Magic Hat Brewery as a teenager and his first legal-age love was Pete’s Wicked Ale. Beer and brewing turned from passion and hobby to profession when faced with a slate of soul-sapping job prospects upon his graduation from the Darden School of Business. He joined the team at Devils Backbone in 2011 and has been awed each day since by the talent, intelligence and personality in the beer industry. As Chief Operating Officer, Hayes helps to develop the strategic direction for the company and oversees management of Operation, Sales, Marketing and Hospitality.
Owner, No-Li Brewhouse
John Bryant is the owner of No-Li Brewhouse in Spokane, Washington (USA). No-Li is an internationally-recognized and award-winning craft brewing organization built on a foundation of people, world-class craft beers, and community. John has a 30-year industry track record that began at The Rainer Brewery in Seattle. Previous industry experience includes roles as the president of Oskar Blues Brewery; chief operating officer of Odell Brewing; vice president of sales and marketing at Deschutes Brewery and national brand manager of Henry Weinhard’s. John is currently the vice president of the Washington Brewers Guild. He previously served on the board of the Association of Brewers and the board of the Brewers Association of America. He is a past president of the Inland N.W. Craft Brewers Association and received the 2011 Colorado Brewers Guild Director's Award. No-Li Brewhouse was awarded the 2015 National Brewery Partner of the Year by the NBWA and named the 2016 Washington Brewery of the Year. The company has earned 23 international brewing medals.
Founder & President, Hops & Grain Brewing
Josh Hare is the founder and president at Hops & Grain Brewing in Austin, Texas. He fell in love with artfully crafted beer and the fantastic community that supports it when he was living in Boulder, Colorado in the early 2000’s. He moved to Austin in 2005 to pursue a career in triathlon and the running specialty retail industry, and eventually helped to open the city’s most successful running retail store. After searching for beer sponsors all over the state with no success, Hare decided to open his own brewery, focused on the highest quality products and marketing them to an active city loyal to locally produced goods. Since 2011, he has been overseeing the day-to-day operations of the brewery -- from recipe & product development to quality management. Since day one, the mission at Hops & Grain has been to enhance the human experience through the medium that inspires them the most: the artful and deliberate expression of thoughtfully crafted beer.
Co-Founder, Independence Brewing Company
Little did Amy Cartwright, the co-founder of Independence Brewing, know that taking a job at the Bitter End Brewpub in 1996 would lead to a lifelong pursuit for the perfect IPA, and an obsession with craft beer. While enjoying a killer American Pale Ale brewed by her husband, Rob, Amy decided to dedicate herself to a more worthy endeavor: craft beer. It was then that the idea for Independence Brewing Co. was born. Years of research, planning, and fundraising culminated in October 2004, when Independence opened its warehouse doors in South Austin. Amy’s passion for brewing handcrafted beers for Texas comes through in every batch, every keg, every bottle and every can of beer that Independence brews.
Co-Founder, Austin Beerworks
Adam DeBower, a native of Austin, Texas, is the co-founder and co-owner of Austin Beerworks, a regional craft brewery. Adam is a brewer by trade, with more than 11 years experience in the brewing industry. Most days he is occupied with managing plant operations at Austin Beerworks. He is also in his 4th year of service on the Texas Craft Brewers Guild Board of Directors, where he is currently the Vice Chair of the Board, Legislative Committee Chair, and Chair of the Guild's political action committee, CraftPAC.
CEO, Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
Sam Calagione is the founder and CEO of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery in Milton, Delaware and Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. He also owns the Dogfish Inn in Lewes, Delaware. Sam is a 2016 James Beard Award recipient was named one of Fast Company's 100 Most Creative People in Business. The Wall Street Journal has called Sam "a Pioneer of bizarre brews."
Co-Founder & CEO, Karl Strauss Brewing Company
Chris Cramer is the CEO and Co-Founder of the Karl Strauss Brewing Company. Chris was related to Karl M. Strauss, the company’s original Master Brewer. Chris helped launch Karl Strauss Brewing Company in 1989. For the last 28 years, Chris has held a variety of leadership roles in the company including serving as the company’s President. He currently serves as CEO and is focused on defining long-term strategies for growth and identifying growth opportunities and resources for the company. In addition to his work with Karl Strauss, Chris sits on the board for the California Craft Brewers Association. Chris is a community activist and he personally championed many business and legislative reforms that helped pave the way for San Diego to become the capital of craft beer.
Co-Founder, Odell Brewing
Wynne Odell is co-founder and CEO of Odell Brewing Company in Fort Collins, CO. Starting in 1989 with her husband, Doug, and sister-in-law, Corkie, the trio had no grand plans, but after five years of a draft-only format, bottles were introduced and rapid growth ensued. 26 years later, Odell Brewing Company ranks 34th in size among craft breweries in the U.S. Odell is a Colorado-centric company, with 65% of its sales coming from Colorado. With the addition of Texas in 2014, it now distributes in 11 states. Wynne, Doug and Corkie undertook two transactions in July, 2015 that sold the majority of their stock to a combination of an ESOP and a trio of long-term managers. Having chosen legacy over maximum wealth, the three founders sleep well at night. Wynne, Doug and Corkie, along with 3 of their children, remain active at the brewery. Wynne currently chairs the Colorado Brewers’ Guild Board.
Managing Partner, Wormtown Brewery
David Fields is the managing partner of Wormtown Brewery in Worcester, Massachusetts. Under David’s leadership, the brewery has grown from 2,700 barrels in 2014 to 27,000 barrels in 2018. Prior to joining Wormtown, David spent 15 years as the managing partner of Consolidates Beverages, an Anheuser-Busch distributor in Auburn, Massachusetts. He also served as the vice president of sales for Consolidated Beverages between 1996 and 1999. David is the past president and former board member of the Beer Distributors of Massachusetts. He also served on the boar of the National Beer Wholesalers Association and was a member of Anheuser-Busch’s wholesale panel. Born and raised in Worcester, David is married and has one son.
Co-Founder, Rhinegeist Brewery
Bryant Goulding was born in Los Angeles and grew up in Connecticut. He graduated from UConn with an MA in Economics and wrote his thesis on ‘The Economics & Evolution of the Craft Beer Market.’ Goulding worked as supply chain & marketing analytics consultant while living in SF and would eventually quit the consulting world to work in beer sales at Anderson Valley. He also worked for three years with Dogfish Head, managing 18 wholesalers across five states. He then spent six months at Golden Road in LA as the company’s sales director before co-founding Rhinegeist with Bob Bonder in 2013. Goulding currently serves as the VP of sales & marketing for Rhinegeist, overseeing the creative marketing and sales execution aspects of the business.
Former CEO, New Belgium Brewing
Christine Perich serves as the CEO of New Belgium Brewing and is a member of the company’s Board of Directors. At the end of 2012, she guided the company through a 2nd Stage ESOP transaction, which resulted in New Belgium becoming a 100% employee-owned company BCORP. Perich now has oversight of all day to day operations and the construction and integration of the company’s second production facility in Asheville, North Carolina, which is slated for completion in late 2015. Christine has been an integral part of New Belgium’s growth and success. When she started at New Belgium in 2000, the company operated a 165,000 barrelage production facility and distributed its products in 7 states. In 2014, New Belgium will produce more than 970,000 barrels and distribute its products in 37 states and throughout Canada and Sweden.
Co-Founder, Firestone Walker
Firestone Walker co-founder David Walker is originally from Devon, a county in southwest England. He relocated to the West Coast in 1991, and established the brewery in Los Olivos, California with his brother-in-law Adam Firestone a few years after that. The company relocated Paso Robles in 2001. Walker makes regular trips home to see his family and check on his beer, which, along with 20 U.S. states, is distributed in the UK.
Co-founder, Trillium Brewing Company
Jean-Claude "JC" Tetreault is the co-founder of Trillium Brewing Company. Trillium's celebratory ales were first crafted to commemorate his marriage to co-founder, Esther Tetreault. This initial concept evolved into a lifestyle and dream to share, not only beer, but experiences with one another and their community. As a native of Massachusetts, JC strives to incorporate local crops, flavors, and partners into Trillium's beer. JC is passionate about producing beer with unwavering quality that can be shared in all aspects of your life.
VP Sales & Marketing, Brooklyn Brewery
Dave Duffy is the vice president of sales & marketing at Brooklyn Brewery and leads the new combined sales partnership between Brooklyn Brewery, 21st Amendment Brewery, and Funkwerks. He has over 20 years of experience in craft beer sales & marketing, working in both the supplier and distribution tiers and as a consultant. After completing his MBA degree, Dave cut his teeth in field sales roles at Coca-Cola Enterprises and Boston Beer Company in Virginia and Colorado before working as a GM for a family Miller distributor in Denver. Returning to the supplier side, he was Division Director at New Belgium Brewing and VP of Sales & Marketing at Great Divide Brewing. In 2012, Dave began his consulting career by starting Colorado Craft Advisors, a sales & marketing consultancy focused on sales & marketing solutions for brewers and distributors which led to a role as Director in the investment banking arm of First Beverage Group.
VP of Marketing, Boulevard Brewing Company
Natalie Gershon is the vice president of marketing for Boulevard Brewing Company in Kansas City, MO. In this role, Natalie oversees the creative, consumer and trade marketing initiatives for Boulevard. Before joining the organization, Natalie spent the prior fifteen years in Los Angeles, working primarily in natural and organic CPG where she lead the marketing team at Zevia, disrupting traditional CSD, and Dogswell, the innovator of functional pet food. Natalie was thrilled to return to her hometown, and join the Boulevard team, a brand with unparalleled respect in Kansas City.
VP of Marketing, Dogfish Head Companies
Neal Stewart is the VP of Marketing at Dogfish Head Companies in Milton, DE. Neal got his start in the beer business in 2000 as a brand manager -- and later the marketing director -- at Pabst Brewing Company, where he helped brands like PBR, Lone Star, and Rainier deliver positive growth trends after several years of decline. Since then, Neal has worked in senior roles with other beer brands on both the supplier and agency side, and claims to be the world's foremost authority on turkey sandwiches.
Director of Analytics, The BWC Company
Dave Williams is the Director of Analytics for The BWC Company, an alcohol industry consulting firm. After graduating from Penn State University in 2006 with a degree in marketing, Dave began his career at Marketing Management Analytics (MMA) as a data analyst, running sales regression models and market level analytics across various retail and CPG clients. He left MMA and joined The Nielsen Company in 2010, quickly working up to the role of Client Manager. In this role, Dave lead a team dedicated to market mix and price/promo analysis for Procter & Gamble globally across multiple categories and brands. In 2015, Dave left Nielsen for his current position at The BWC Company, where he runs high-end analytics across the Beverage Alcohol universe. His key focus areas include consumer behavior, pricing, promotion and retail landscape for BWC’s supplier, distributor and retailer clients.
Owner, Artisanal Imports
Bob Leggett, a lifetime Austin-ite, has been active in the beer industry for more than 40 years. His accomplishments include, investing in “Shiner of Austin,” one of the first Shiner Bock distributors in 1977, and the first to distribute Modelo, Dos Equis, and Corona in the U.S. Bob is credited with developing the concept of packaging Corona in a clear bottle with a blue and white label, which stands out to consumers. Over the years, Bob established other distributorships across Texas and the U.S. He is one of the first to import Belgium beers such as Duvel, and Chimay into the U.S. Bob pursued the early pioneers of the American craft beer industry, and was the first to distribute Sierra Nevada outside of California in 1982. In 2001, he founded Artisanal Imports, which has become one of the largest importers of Belgium beers in the U.S. In June 2017 Bob became the managing partner and owner of Uncle Billy’s.