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June 11, 2015
Chicago, IL
Brewbound Session Chicago 2015
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Startup Brewery Challenge 4: Meet the Judges


Karmen Olson, CBA

We’re less than 48 hours away from Brewbound Session Summer ’15 in Chicago, and it’s time to introduce a quintet of judges for this year’s Startup Brewery Challenge, our bi-annual business pitch competition.

Presented by Craft Brew Alliance, the Startup Brewery Challenge gives U.S. craft breweries who have been on the market for less than two years a chance to show off their business plans, sample one core product offering and receive immediate feedback from our panel of expert judges.

During Thursday afternoon’s competition, which is scheduled to begin at 1:15 p.m., our industry veteran judges will evaluate Startup Brewery Challenge finalists and critique contests on their elevator pitch, branding & packaging, marketplace potential and product quality.


Ben Dobler, CBA

Competing for the chance to become the Widmer “Brother for a Day,” the winning company will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to Portland, Ore. and the opportunity to craft a new collaboration beer with Widmer Brothers Brewing. Winners will also take an extensive tour of the company’s production brewery, participate in Widmer Brothers’ daily taste panel and receive business coaching from CBA executives as well as sales, marketing, graphics, quality assurance and packaging department leaders.

Specialists in brewing, branding, sales and retailing will join the judging panel and include:

Karmen Olson, Senior Manager of Emerging Business, CBA

Karmen is the Senior Manager of Emerging Business for Craft Brew Alliance, currently managing CBA’s partnership with former Startup Brewery Challenge winner Appalachian Mountain Brewery. Previously CBA’s Redhook Brand Manager, Karmen led the development of Redhook’s partnership strategy, resulting in a nearly 20% volume shift for the declining 30+ year old beer brand. Karmen has over a decade of experience in CPG Food and Beverage Marketing, specializing in brand strategy and strategic partnerships.


Doug Dayhoff, Upland Brewing

Ben Dobler, Brewing Innovation Manager, CBA

Ben grew up as part of the Portland craft beer scene. Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, he got his start as a brewer when he was 19 at Bridgeport Brewing. After three years, Ben began brewing at Widmer Brothers Brewing, where he has been brewing for the last 19 years; during the last 9 years, Ben’s role has centered on innovation and Widmer Brothers/CBA beer development.

Doug Dayhoff, President, Upland Brewing Company

Doug Dayhoff has led Indiana-based Upland Brewing Company since 2008. During that time, Upland has grown from 2,500 to 17,000 BBLs, built a new production brewing facility, expanded two tasting rooms, and is in the process of constructing a second facility focused on wood fermentation for Upland’s sour ale program. He has a degree in philosophy from Indiana University and an MBA from Dartmouth College.


Michael Kiser, Good Beer Hunting


Michael Kiser, Founder, Good Beer Hunting

Strategist, writer, and photographer Michael Kiser serves the industry through strategic branding, storytelling, and new product development from his studio in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood. He created Good Beer Hunting as a chronicle in craft beer, documenting the stories behind America’s favorite beverages. Most recently he helped unite craft beer and coffee innovation through his ongoing Uppers & Downers event series in collaboration with Intelligentsia Coffee. 

Pat Brophy, Beer Buyer, Binny’s Beverage Depot

Pat Brophy is responsible for curating one of the most expansive beer selections in Illinois. Founded in 1948 by Harold Binstein, Binny’s sells more than 6,000 different beer SKUs across its 31 locations. “If you can’t find it at Binny’s, it’s probably not worth drinking.”

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