January 12, 2015 |

A Conversation with Jason Oziel, New Belgium Brewing Co.

By Denise Greer

beerpieceWEB EXCLUSIVE : Jason lets us in on the brewer’s side of selling craft beer


New Belgium Brewing Company
Fort Collins, Colorado

This Online Conversation on the brewer’s side of selling craft beer with New Belgium’s director of national accounts Jason Oziel is an extension of the Pizza Today feature: Brewhaha: Creating a craft beer destination.

How does a pizzeria get your beers on tap? 

We support the three-tier system, meaning we sell directly to wholesalers that in turn sell to the retailer.  In nearly every market, our beers are distributed through either the MillerCoors network or the Anheuser-Busch network. A quick call to their local rep will help determine which wholesaler carries our beers. We also employ local Beer Rangers (brewery sales representatives) in each market that can help with education, server training, promotions, POS, etc.

In some cases with such small batches or limited time offers, it can get pretty competitive to get certain kegs. How can an operator secure those in-demand batches? 

For starters, it certainly helps to establish a true partnership with the brewery, meaning you have a relationship with the brewery rep and work together to sell the right brands from the portfolio on a year-round basis.  Going the extra mile to create excitement within your establishment for a hard-to-get beer is also helpful.  Whether that’s a meet-the-brewer night, a special menu pairing the beer with unique food offerings, or a creative promotion, taking it a step further than just offering the beer for sale will go a long way to helping you secure that rare beer.

What advice would you offer pizzeria operators who are looking to sell craft beer?

  1. Make sure you offer a variety of styles. IPA’s are all the rage right now but not everyone is an IPA drinker.  Craft beer is a broad spectrum of flavors and styles so be sure you have something for everyone.
  2. Just because it’s local does not mean it’s good! Don’t get caught up in a brewery just because they are down the street. Make sure the product you get from them is consistently good quality and they are taking measures to help promote their products and offer a top-notch beer experience for your customers.
  3. Educate your staff. There is nothing worse than asking your server if they have a porter on tap and they tell you they have IPA which is pretty much the same thing.  That’s not ok. New Belgium offers a training module on all of our beers called Beer Confidence. A confident server or bartender is going to create a better dining experience for your customers and likely increase their check average and gratuity. Everybody wins!
  4. Have Fun! Craft beer offers a number of avenues to be creative and think outside the box but most of all it’s about having fun.