Three key members of Stony Creek Brewery’s team were laid off this week.
Stony Creek director of operations Manny Rodriguez confirmed to Brewbound that brewmaster Andy Schwartz, director of sales Jamal Robinson and key account manager Spencer Niebuhr are no longer employed by the company.
“The American Craft Beer industry has changed,” Rodriguez wrote in a statement. “We need to be honest with our business approach to craft. As a part of this change both Jamal Robinson and Spencer Niebuhr on the sales side and Andy Schwartz on the brew side are no longer with the company. Their contribution has been immeasurable.
“With over 80 talented employees, Stony Creek Brewery remains committed to creating more interesting beers, more often and each with the same level of quality and innovation,” he added.
Rumors of layoffs at the nearly 6-year-old Branford, Connecticut-based craft brewery began circulating Thursday morning.
Schwartz and Robinson each posted messages to their respective Facebook accounts Wednesday announcing their exits from the company. Neither Schwartz nor Robinson returned messages from Brewbound as of press time.
In his Facebook message, Schwartz, who had served as Stony Creek’s brewmaster since May 2014, wrote that “it is with deep sadness that I announce my departure from Stony Creek Brewery.”
“I had the time of my life there, am super proud of the work our team did, and will miss them all greatly,” he wrote. “Wouldn’t trade my 5½ years there for anything.”
Schwartz, who previously served as the innovation brewer at Craft Brew Alliance during a seven-year stint, added that he was unsure of his next move.
“I trust god will lead me to where I’m supposed to be,” he wrote. “I’m nowhere near done yet.”
Robinson, who had been sales director at Stony Creek since May 2014, wrote “it is with a very heavy heart that I announce my departure from Stony Creek Brewery.”
“I couldn’t be more proud to have been apart of crafting and launching this brand in CT and beyond,” he added. “It has been an honor and a privilege to work with every single person on board.”
Robinson also praised Rodriguez for serving as a mentor to him.
“I am truly grateful for all that I have learned, experienced, the relationships built along the way, and most of all to the Crowleys for giving me the opportunity five years ago,” he wrote.
Like Schwartz, Robinson stated that his next move is unclear.
“I don’t know what the next chapter of my life looks like yet, and if I’m being honest, it’s a bit scary,” he wrote. “But I will continue to give 1000% regardless of what it is. It’s the only way I know how to be. Until then, I truly wish the Stony fam nothing but the best going forward.”
Niebuhr, who had been with Stony Creek since September 2016, previously served as a key account manager in the northeast and a division sales manager for Craft Brew Alliance for nearly four years.
Stony Creek was founded as a contract brewery in 2010 by Rodriguez and Peggy Crowley, the wife of former Dichello Distributors co-owner Ed Crowley.
In 2012, Ed Crowley sold his 50% stake in the wholesaler and helped transform Stony Creek into a craft brewery, which officially opened in 2015. That year, according to trade group the Brewers Association, Stony Creek produced 10,000 barrels of beer, and the company quickly grew production to 22,309 barrels in 2017, the last year that the company’s data was reported by the BA.
Outside of its home state of Connecticut, Stony Creek distributes beer in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont. The company also operates a brewpub inside the Foxwoods Resort Casino, which opened last August, in Mashantucket, Connecticut.
Read more about the founding of Stony Creek in this 2015 Brewbound profile.
Stony Creek joins a number of beer companies that have cut jobs this year, including Lord Hobo, Celis Brewery, Weyerbacher, Constellation Brands-owned Ballast Point, Heineken USA, and Hangar 24, among several others.