Brewbound Podcast Episode 16: Eric Ottaway on the Global Craft Landscape and Product Innovation

Speaking to hundreds of attendees who traveled to Santa Monica for the Brewbound Live business conference in November, Brooklyn Brewery CEO Eric Ottaway addressed a number of top-of-mind issues that beer industry professionals are keeping a close eye on as they prepare to flip their calendars to 2019.

Chief among them, however, was increasing consumer interest in functional or “better-for-you” products such as low- or no-alcohol beer and kombucha.

“I think that opportunity is enormous,” he said.

In 2016, Brooklyn Brewery sold a minority stake to Kirin Brewery. The Japanese beer producer’s parent company, Kirin Holdings, already has “a number of investments in the health and wellness space,” Ottaway noted, and Brooklyn is “having some real interesting conversations” about how the broader consumer trend toward healthier lifestyles will impact beer.

“The consumer is looking for ways to improve themselves, ways to improve their health and ways to live better, and I think that space is virtually unlimited,” he said.

Ottaway believes that more beer companies need to “start thinking bigger,” and look beyond beer as a means of staying competitive.

“If you look at some of the more successful companies that operate in the brewing space, they are actually multi-beverage, multi-segment, multi-brand companies,” he said, pointing to Boston Beer Company, which makes alcoholic tea and seltzer products, as well as hard cider, as an example.

Ottaway’s comments at Brewbound Live came just days before Brooklyn Brewery launched its first alcohol-free beer, Special Effects, in Sweden.

In episode 16 of the Brewbound Podcast, Brooklyn Brewery CEO Eric Ottaway discusses the growing consumer interest in low- and no-alcohol products, the overall state of the beer business, his company’s global partnership strategy and the shrinking international opportunities for U.S. craft breweries.

Also in this episode: Brewbound editors Chris Furnari and Justin Kendall discuss the latest news, including information about Anheuser-Busch InBev’s recent partnership with Canadian cannabis company Tilray, layoffs at Oregon’s Deschutes Brewery, the Brewers Association’s “craft brewer” definition change and ongoing legal disputes for the Craft Beer Cellar retail franchise.

Listen to episode 16 of the Brewbound Podcast above, as well as on iTunes. The episode is also available on Google Play, Stitcher, Spotify, and Soundcloud. New episodes of the Brewbound Podcast, which is co-hosted by Furnari and Kendall, are published every Thursday.

Episode 17, featuring Brewery Ommegang president Doug Campbell, will be released on Thursday, January 3, 2019.

For questions, comments or suggestions, please email podcast@brewbound.com.

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Brewbound Podcast

The Brewbound Podcast features interviews with beer industry executives and entrepreneurs, along with highlights and commentary from the weekly news. New episodes every Thursday.