The beer industry has historically survived and thrived off of streamlined business models. Whether it’s big ideas like Augustus Busch’s refrigerated rail cars or a national distribution system, or small ideas like having a flagship beer and seasonals. Models like this are ingrained in the way beer is made, bought, and sold. But the last decade of brewing has seen more than just a proliferation of beer styles — we’ve seen an increasing diversity in business models as well. It’s rare to find a new brewery these days that doesn’t have a taproom or self-distribution in some capacity. But what happens when you get caught between big shifts in the industry? When the business model you designed is suddenly stuck, like the end of a branch on an evolutionary tree, caught between a model that worked for the breweries that came before you, but seems almost irrelevant to the breweries who come right after you?
This week I’m talking to Jerry Nelson, the founder of Une Annee in Chicago. He’s going to talk about his experience of getting caught between these two worlds, and what he’s doing to fight his way out of the quicksand.