Last month, Brewbound.com sat down with Heavy Seas Brewing Owner Hugh Sisson to discuss the company’s position in an ever-widening craft beer landscape.
Sisson offered up some interesting viewpoints on the barrage of emerging startup breweries, the craft beer drinkers’ palate and his company’s own plans for 2012.
On the success of the IPA category:
“The classic American macro brews have been so lacking in assertive hop character,” said Sisson. “IPA was such a departure from those that it became the darling of people who wanted to react against. I don’t see that abating anytime soon. I think American craft beer lovers are pretty much in love with hops.”
On the Heavy Seas portfolio, casks and 2012:
Sisson said the workhorse for Heavy Seas is Loose Cannon IPA, which currently takes up 40 percent of brewery capacity. But despite accounting for a large chunk of his business, Sisson said Loose Cannon is just one piece of the puzzle.
“I don’t feel like we are a ‘one dog in the show’ brewery,” he said.
The brewery boasts over 20 styles of beer and one of the largest cask beer programs in the U.S.
“We have been more than dithering in that area for the last several years, and we have developed a pretty strong following for it,”
Sisson said of his cask program.
For Sisson, casks represent an interesting growth proposal.
“It’s a growth opportunity in that it established your brand in a way which then gets more buzz about the brand, which then hopefully creates the growth opportunity.”
Sisson said the company is not planning on adding any new markets in 2012, even with a projected volume growth of 50 percent to 45,000 barrels.
“We would much rather focus on improving the service we have to the existing customer base,” he said. “I don’t want to overpromise and under deliver.”
On new brewery startups:
“I think those companies who really focus on the fundamentals and who establish themselves as serious credible players, won’t have any issues,” he said. “People can’t lose sight of the fact that this is a business. It’s fun, its creative, its lifestyle but it’s still business.”
BONUS: Watch 10 minutes of additional footage from the interview below.