Long-time beer industry sales exec Adam Lambert is on the move.
After more than a year as chief revenue officer for BrewDog USA, Lambert is joining Michigan’s Roak Brewing Company and Dark Horse Brewing Company as president. The two microbreweries announced a deal in September that finally closed last week, leading to the formation of the Michigan Brewers Union platform.
Lambert’s last day at BrewDog is February 28, although he plans to offer guidance on an as-needed basis.
“I’ve been a huge fan of Roak and Dark Horse for some time, both make world class beers, have incredible stories and a remarkable cult following,” Lambert wrote in a note to industry friends. “Having spent most of my career in sales and marketing, I’m truly looking forward to taking on the challenge of running two breweries, two restaurants and a market.”
Lambert added that he will be working closely with Roak CEO John Leone.
“As most of you know I love the challenge of growing brands, building teams, and fighting hard in the trenches,” he wrote. “This job will be all of that and more!”
Speaking to Brewbound, Lambert said he was eager to take on a new role as a “personal challenge.”
“This was really an offer and challenge I couldn’t refuse,” he said.
Lambert started at Scottish craft beer maker BrewDog’s U.S. division in December 2018. In that time, BrewDog’s U.S. volumes increased 46%, to 53,000 barrels.
In his note to industry friends, Lambert called the last two and a half years working for BrewDog as a consultant and a full-time employee “one of the most challenging yet rewarding times” in his career.
Prior to joining BrewDog, Lambert worked as chief operating officer of growth capital group Storied Craft Breweries and held sales leadership roles at Virtue Cider, New Holland Brewing Company, Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Rogue Ales and SLO Brew.
As president of Roak and Dark Horse, Lambert will work closely with Leone, who founded Roak in 2015.
“I’ve been talking to John for a long time, prior to even being at BrewDog,” Lambert said. “We’ve just been good friends and good cohorts in the beer business.”
According to Lambert, it’s unclear how high the ceiling is for Roak and Dark Horse, which was founded in 1997. Both breweries possess about 20,000 barrels of capacity but neither was close to hitting its maximum.
Production at Dark Horse declined an estimated 20%, to 7,800 barrels, in 2018, and down from its peak of 23,298 barrels in 2015, according to the most recent data available from the Brewers Association (BA). Meanwhile, Royal Oak-based Roak produces around 3,400 barrels of beer.
“The first goal is to get this combination up to 12,000 barrels between the two and march toward that 20,000 barrel mark,” Lambert said, adding that he doesn’t “have the magical barrel number.
“So we’ve got plenty of capacity between the two to be able to ramp this up, but in today’s environment, it’s not as easy as the past,” he added. “So I don’t have these grandiose goals to be 40,000 or 50,000 barrels tomorrow morning.”
The effort to reinvigorate the 22-year-old Dark Horse brand will include a branding refresh, with the company tapping Ebbing Branding and Design for the project.
“Dark Horse was very innovative back in the day and ahead of the curve, and getting back to that brand identity is mission No. 1,” Lambert said.
Meanwhile, the job change will also allow Lambert, who lives in Michigan and is an avid Wolverines fan, to be at home more often.
“I live literally like halfway between both breweries,” he said. “So, yeah, I get to spend a little more time at home, a little more time physically in Michigan.”