Brewbound Podcast Episode 31: Revolution Brewing’s Donn Bichsel on Growing in a Competitive Climate

Once a runaway train powering full-steam ahead toward 100,000 barrels, Chicago’s Revolution Brewing has found it more difficult to grow in recent years as an increasing number of new breweries in its own backyard have forced the company to get more tactical.

“Just in our patch of Logan Square, the amount of new brewpubs and taprooms and breweries that have opened up is impressive,” Revolution chief commercial officer Donn Bichsel said on episode 31 of the Brewbound Podcast. “It’s no longer neighborhood by neighborhood. It’s become block by block.”

According to Bichsel, it’s “challenging” to figure out where Revolution “fits in” in a Chicagoland market in which more than 160 breweries operated during all of or part of 2018.

“It’s always difficult to try to maintain truth in what you’re doing, and maintain our ethos and our overall culture [and] feel that we’ve got,” he said of growing to become one of the largest craft beer manufacturers in the region.

“You need to be something different to just about every retailer, and in a certain sense, each of our consumers as well,” he added.

Creating unique experiences, establishing creative partnerships and getting back to the tried-and-true strategies of selling beer in higher volumes helps.

“We have to be greater partners and really understand what it is they’re missing, and what we can bring to the table,” Bichsel said of his interactions with retailers.

In episode 31, Bichsel discusses how Revolution Brewing is dealing with industry headwinds and shares his outlook on the future of craft. He also shares how the company is staying relevant in a crowded marketplace, and how it intends to succeed over the long-term.


Listen to episode 31 of the Brewbound Podcast above, as well as on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, Spotify, and Soundcloud. New episodes of the Brewbound Podcast, which is co-hosted by Chris Furnari and Justin Kendall, are published every Thursday.

Episode 32, featuring Sebago Brewing co-founder Kai Adams, will be released on Thursday, April 18.

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

Show Notes:

0:00 – 14:50: Furnari and Kendall introduce episode 31, discuss the latest news and share their initial CBC 2019 highlights

14:50 – 49:30 Furnari and Kendall interview Donn Bichsel

49:30 – 56:21: Furnari and Kendall share their takeaways from the interview

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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.