We have been lucky to get to know Rob Shellman and work with his fantastic company, Better Beer Society. We are excited to highlight their efforts, and share all that Better Beer Society is doing for the craft brewery industry!
What does Better Beer Society do?
Better Beer Society is an educational organization dedicated to the awareness and implementation of best-practices for how beer is handled, served, and sold. We offer a complete end-to-end solution for all tiers of the industry. Our services range from consulting, design and installation of efficient draft systems, front-of-house staff training, service and repair calls, ongoing draft maintenance, as well as sales and field quality support for producers and wholesalers. Our initiative is to elevate quality standards in Minnesota.
What makes a brewery successful?
Well, I’m immediately drawn to connection, quality, and consistency, but I mean, success is relative. Sometimes success is keeping the lights on another month or meeting payroll week to week. If you were lucky enough to open 10+ years ago, you might be finding your success in a distribution footprint that expands a few states. Perhaps you’ve recently opened a 7 bbl brewpub with an emphasis on supporting your neighborhood, and you are lucky enough to connect with them daily. In either scenario, placing quality and consistency as the top of mind for the Minnesota consumer (or your guest) should be paramount. I think as long as you have the knowledge and experience or have chosen to invest in and surround yourself with those who do, that’s a significant first step. Entrepreneurship isn’t easy, and it’s certainly not for everyone – but my hat goes off to anyone who has decided to take the step of turning their dream into a reality. I hope they’re finding success…whatever that means to them.
How does Better Beer Society assist on the education side of craft brewing?
In our early years, we were far more consumer-facing and educated beer enthusiasts through our BBSU (Better Beer Society University) programming, which spanned five years. It was an hour-long format where we would teach one particular topic each week, whether it was ingredients, process, barrel-aging, beer laws, you name it…we covered it. We would typically treat our students and fly in one special guest each semester (e.g., Mitch Steele, John Palmer, Ray Daniels, Julia Herz, etc.) to speak on a particular subject. These days, our focus is almost exclusively B2B as we continue to grow and expand Better Beer Society into new markets. In addition to educating retailers on best-practice techniques for service and draft troubleshooting, we work with the MN Craft Brewers Guild each year and head up a QA/QC program for the MN State Fair, as well as offer up sensory and off-flavor courses for breweries throughout the year.
Why did you start the Better Beer Society?
I got my Cicerone certification back in 2009 and was fascinated with this program. Craft Beer was growing at an exponential rate, and I knew right away I wanted to forge my path as an educator and share this information with as many people as I could, but also create something practical and impactful for our industry. Our model has evolved quite a bit over the years, but our mission and has always been under the same three philosophies of “education” “dedication” and “celebration” for all thing’s beer. We’re continually striving to elevate current industry standards and innovate. We’re still a young industry with so much more to do, and it’s one of my favorite things about the company. We have nine employees based here in Minnesota, and we now operate our unique programming out of 3 states.
What is the best way for brewers to reach you or learn more about what you do?
I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on my cell at 612.226.7622