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Fermented Strategies - New Belgium? - Issue #11

November 26 · Issue #11 · View online
Fermented Strategies - Craft Brewing Industry Newsletter
Thanks for tuning in. Last week we made mention of the AB InBev acquisition of Craft Brew Alliance, which was another big merger and acquisition in the craft beer world. Well, we had another huge acquisition with Kirin acquiring New Belgium . This one is big for a number of reasons, most notably that New Belgium is employee owned via an ESOP. This acquisition still needs to be approved by the employee owners, but from initial reporting, it looks like the average employee owner will get $100,000 in the acquisition which is a substantial amount of money. There was also the thought of New Belgium always remaining craft due to the employee ownership aspect of this, but that is not necessarily the case (the ESOP owned a minority of the shares, the majority was owned by Kim Jordan and others). Having employee ownership through a ESOP is not a firewall from potential acquisition. The trend of mergers and acquisitions in the craft brewing industry is just starting out and I would not be surprised to see more activity here.

One Big Thing: Providing a Poor Customer Experience
The last two weeks we discussed the benefits of providing a great customer experience. This week we are going to tackle the ramifications of what a poor customer experiences does for your brewery. It’s almost too easy to provide a poor experience to a customer. Some examples of poor customer experiences I either experienced or observed  recently are as follows.
First, not addressing a customer when they come in.  There were a few times, where I witnessed customers come into a brewery, sit at the bar, and wait 10 minutes for someone to acknowledge their presence.  This was not a time where it was a busy night and the brewery was short-staffed. This was a time where there were three people behind the bar and five people sitting in the brewery.  The staff in question were really excited to talk to each other, but not excited to talk to customers. This first interaction can set the tone for the remainder of their experience. This can be as simple as greeting the customer when they enter in and having the staff introduce themselves.
Two, not being able to provide relevant recommendations to customers.  One brewery I visited a couple of months ago had 20 different beers on tap.  In interacting with the taproom staff I asked for recommendations of what I should get and gave some examples of what type of beers I enjoyed.  The proper response here would be to recommend a few options or provide (and charge) for some samples of things that I might like. The wrong answer and the one that was given was “everything here is great, just pick something and you will like it.”  While it may be true that all of the beers are good (I would hope so), it does not help the customer to decide on what to choose and provides a poor customer experience. Engaging with your customers by providing recommendations shows the customer you care about providing the right beers for them and enhances their experience. If you can guide them to find a perfect beer for them, they will be more likely to spend more money in the taproom and come back regularly.
Three, not serving beer correctly. One brewery I went into had a beer on nitro. I saw a customer order this beer and basically get a pint full of foam as the taproom server did not know how to properly pour a nitro beer. The poor customer looked at what they got and with a sigh of resignation, took the foam beer and tried to let it settle (which it really didn’t) and then drink foam. Serving beer appropriately is extremely important. You could have brewed a great beer, but if you taproom servers can’t serve it appropriately, your customers won’t realize how good your beer is.  I highly recommend breweries have their taproom staff complete the Cicerone Certified Beer Server training. Not only will they learn to serve beer correctly, it will help them provide a better experience to their customers.
With a little intentionality, you have the ability to elevate the customer experience and create customers that will come back again and again.
Thoughts from our friends
New Belgium to be Acquired by Kirin-Owned Lion Little World Beverages | Brewbound New Belgium to be Acquired by Kirin-Owned Lion Little World Beverages | Brewbound
Additional Thoughts on Customer Experience
Customer Engagement — a Top Priority of Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant | Iron Hill Brewery Customer Engagement — a Top Priority of Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant | Iron Hill Brewery
Brewery first impression lesson: The importance of a sincere greeting and thank you Brewery first impression lesson: The importance of a sincere greeting and thank you
Customer Experiences Impact Brand Reputation | Rival IQ Customer Experiences Impact Brand Reputation | Rival IQ
At Lance CPA Group, we partner with craft brewery owners who embrace unconventional risk and strive for creativity. Those who lend themselves to change, remain transparent and without pretense are the breweries that thrive.
To learn more about how we work with breweries, visit our website at
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