Longtime New Belgium Brewing spokesman Bryan Simpson will depart the company on May 10, Brewbound has learned.
“It’s been an absolute honor to represent this brewery and everyone’s collective love and talent,” he said via a statement.
Leah Pilcer-Pitman, who most recently served as New Belgium’s director of retail development and strategy, will supplant Simpson as director of communications.
Pilcer-Pitman previously spent more than three years with foodservice company HMSHost, and 3.5 years with Smashburger, according to her LinkedIn.
Simpson, who spent 21-years with the country’s fourth largest craft beer company, said he will launch his own boutique digital media agency this summer.
“I’ll be moving on to pursue my long-deferred dream of creative film and media production, and I will always be a passionate and vocal fan of New Belgium Brewing and the entire craft brewing industry,” he said via the statement.
Speaking to Brewbound, Simpson said his yet-to-be-named agency would focus on “content generation” and the creation of “digital and web assets.”
“I am keeping the door open to all of my friends in the brewing industry for consultation, but we will be focusing on short, digital and filmed content,” he said.
Simpson said he intends to work with consumer packaged goods companies, non-profit organizations and groups advocating for sustainability and social justice, on various digital projects, including website development, social media content generation and strategy consulting.
“We have ideation, execution and distribution capabilities,” he added.
Simpson, one of New Belgium’s longest-tenured employees, joined the company in July 1997. At the time, New Belgium produced about 80,000 barrels of beer, its offerings were distributed in just five Western states, and the entire craft brewing industry comprised fewer than 1,100 breweries that collectively produced 5 million barrels.
Today, more than 7,300 breweries make nearly 26 million barrels of craft beer, according to industry trade group the Brewers Association. For its part, New Belgium, now the fourth-largest U.S. craft brewery according to industry trade group the Brewers Association, produced 846,000 barrels of beer in 2018, down from 955,000 barrels in 2017. The company distributes to 50 states.
“I was literally hired on the bottling line, and then I worked in the tasting room for one-to-two years, but at that time everyone was doing a bit of everything,” he said.
Simpson, who owns shares of New Belgium via the brewery’s employee stock ownership program, said the company would repurchase those shares over the next “five-to-seven years.”
His full statement is included below.
“I’ve had an amazing and wild ride here at New Belgium over the last 21 years. When I started, we were a small regional player distributing in five states with a smoking hot brand in Fat Tire Amber Ale. Our biggest marketing expenses were free beer and post coasters. Today, we’re the fourth-largest craft brewer in the U.S. with a wildly diverse portfolio, and we continue to be independent and proudly employee-owned. I am forever grateful to Kim Jordan and all my peers for so many opportunities and adventures. It’s been an absolute honor to represent this brewery and everyone’s collective love and talent. I’ll be moving on to pursue my long-deferred dream of creative film and media production, and I will always be a passionate and vocal fan of NBB and the entire craft brewing industry. Stay Gold, you Crazy Diamonds.”