Mar 20, 2018
I’m currently sitting in the car outside Black Back Pub in Waterbury, VT waiting for one of my favorite bars in the country to open its doors. I came out to visit Hill Farmstead for the quarterly pickup of their Collected Works membership club. It’s my first time joining the club, which I mostly did as an excuse to force myself to visit more often. It’s buried in about a foot or two of snow at the moment, but it’s as special as ever. And now my bags are full for the trip home. I’m also here for the weekend for a grafting workshop with Shacksbury Cider. A bunch of us are holing up in an old farmhouse and learning how to graft apple trees in an orchard outside of Middlebury. So I figured I better bring some bottles of Hill Farmstead’s Dorothy to share. As much as I admire these kinds of artisanal producers (they really speak to what I love about the ancient traditions of making these delicate, fermentation-driven beers and ciders), if you’ve been listening for a while, you know that another part of my brain is just as turned on by the business and strategy of running a contemporary craft brewery. This week’s guest is Austin Beer Works, one of the best in that regard, and someone I’ve been following closely for a while now. They have a strong brand, they’re growing, they self-distribute, and they know their market. They’re really the quintessential case study for how to make and sell contemporary craft beer in a somewhat underdeveloped market—especially when you know that market won’t stay that way for long. Very few do these days. So this is Austin Beerworks—pretty much the whole crew, which represents a variety of skill sets and perspectives, but with a unified goal—discussing the many facets of what constitutes their vision, strategy, and execution. Listen in.