Innovative products are not always immediately accepted by customers. This was the case for Allagash Brewing Company owner Rob Tod who explains his journey to success in this episode. After shifting customer tastes, Allagash was hit with another challenge – COVID-19. With seventy percent of their business coming from bars and restaurants, Allagash started to focus on employee wellness while riding out the COVID-19 storm. Rob also explains how supporting local grain farmers improved sustainability.
5:08 – Rob describes the role breweries play in the Maine brand.
8:45 – Rob shares the story of starting Allagash Brewing Company and how they came up with the company and beer names.
11:23 – Rob talks about getting into the beer industry.
16:15 – Rob explains how Allagash has responded to the pandemic with an employee wellness focus.
21:36 – Nancy asks Rob how Allagash’s business model has changed as the pandemic eases.
25:31 – Rob runs through the process of becoming a B Corp business.
32:18 – Rob describes Allagash’s sustainability practices.
40:34 – Rob explains how public relations plays a role for Allagash.
42:36 – Rob talks about some of the awards the brewery has won.
46:36 – Rob shares where you can buy Allagash’s beer.
48:11 – Rob shares some resources that have helped his career.
“I started with the white beer, which is a cloudy beer. It's traditional Belgian yeast. It's spiced. People hadn't seen, tasted or heard of a beer like this at the time… I actually feel like I succeeded in giving people this unique experience, but the downside was for the first 10 years, the beer didn't sell. I used to walk into accounts and pour a sample of it into a glass and the first thing anyone would say is ‘What's wrong with it? Why does it look like this? Why does it taste like this?’” – Rob Tod, owner of Allagash Brewing Company
Otter Creek Brewing Co.: http://ottercreekbrewing.com/
The E-Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber: https://www.amazon.com/Myth-Revisited-Small-Businesses-About/dp/0887307280
Let My People Go Surfing by Yvon Chouinard: https://www.amazon.com/Let-People-Surfing-Education-Businessman/dp/0143037838
Sebago Clean Waters: https://www.sebagocleanwaters.org/
Great American Beer Festival: https://www.greatamericanbeerfestival.com/
World Beer Cup: https://www.worldbeercup.org/
The Art Of War by Sun Tzu: https://www.amazon.com/Art-War-Sun-Tzu/dp/1599869772
Good to Great by Jim Collins: https://www.amazon.com/Good-Great-Some-Companies-Others/dp/0066620996
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About the guest:
After graduating from Middlebury College with a major in Geology, Rob headed west. Following a couple of years in Colorado, he suspected his track would eventually lead him either back to Geology or woodworking. Before heading down one of those paths, he took a detour to Vermont where he washed kegs at Otter Creek Brewery.
While at Otter Creek, he happened upon the beers of Belgium. In these inventive and surprising brews, Rob saw an opportunity to give American beer drinkers an experience they’d never had before. He left steady pay and founded Allagash Brewing Company in 1995.
The brewery has since grown from a one-man operation into one of the top 50 craft breweries in the United States (by sales volume) and has earned a spot on Maine’s Best Places to Work list for seven years running. Rob is the past chair of the Brewers Association trade group and received the James Beard Award for Outstanding Wine, Beer or Spirits Producer in 2019.
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