Industry icon John Mallett steps down from Bell’s + moves from Craft ‘Ohana, BrewDog USA and more

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Behind every beer brand you drink is an impressive team of beer professionals — brewers, barkeeps, bussers, canners, sales reps, CEOs, COOs, lab techs, interns and everyone from marketing and HR teams to warehouse and restaurant workers. “Beer professional” encapsulates a wide variety of jobs and skill sets, and breweries are constantly making moves to secure great employees and industry leaders. Oftentimes, it’s not even a beer pro, but a food or technology wiz that’s needed. Craft breweries and their suppliers and trade associations have many facets and require specialized employees. Here are a few of the big personnel headlines from the craft brewing industry in the last month plus. Send your beer pro news to [email protected].

John Mallett, VP of brewing and quality at New Belgium/Bell’s Brewery, announces departure

Bell’s Brewery recently announced that Vice President of Brewing and Quality John Mallett will step down in late February after 21 years with the brewery. I once interviewed Mallett for an award-winning piece on the struggling Michigan hop industry. He was a great resource and just a cool guy to have a conversation with. His impact was a big one, and his departure comes after a year spent helping to lead a successful integration with New Belgium Brewing and Bell’s Brewery, both of which are now under Lion and Kirin ownership.

“John’s contributions to Bell’s, and to the entire craft beer community, are truly impossible to measure or even say out loud,” said Carrie Yunker, executive vice president of Bell’s Brewery. “He’s a brilliant brewer and a visionary operator who brings a strong sense of passion and a willingness to bust through constraints to every beer he makes and every life he touches. We will all miss John’s humor, wit, and steady presence in the brewery, but his legacy isn’t going anywhere. We wish him the very best.”

In his 21+ years with Bell’s, Mallett has been a driving force behind the commitment to both quality and safety that the company is known for today. He worked for several years to establish robust teams and processes focused specifically on best-in-class quality standards and safety-always protocols. As volume growth continued to demand numerous expansions and buildouts of the Comstock, Mich., brewery, Mallett remained committed to growing manufacturing capabilities responsibly, with a focus on protecting our resources for generations to come. Most recently, Mallett played a vital role during a year of transition for Bell’s — focused, as always, on building operational excellence for the future.

Mallett first joined the professional craft beer community as a brewer over 35 years ago, when less than 100 craft breweries existed in the United States. After numerous roles in the industry, including head brewer of Boston’s Commonwealth Brewery, brewmaster at the Old Dominion Brewing Co. in Ashburn, Va., and founder and president of SAAZ, a brewery equipment and service provider, he moved to southwest Michigan in 2001 to spearhead operations at Bell’s Brewery as it broke ground on what is now the company’s main brewing facility in Comstock, Mich., just a few miles from its Kalamazoo birthplace and home.

Bell’s honored Mallett’s 20th anniversary with the brewery by establishing the John Mallett Scholarship, a scholarship awarded to an individual looking to further their studies through the courses offered by the Master Brewers Association of the Americas. With a focus on helping the next generation of brewers, the endowed scholarship debuted in 2022.

“John brings a wealth of experience, knowledge, and incredible passion to all that he does,” said Steve Fechheimer, CEO of New Belgium Brewing. New Belgium and Bell’s announced plans to join forces in November 2021 and have since been focused on bringing the two businesses together. “John has dedicated decades to operations, quality, and safety at Bell’s and recently, across the broader organization. He has been an invaluable leader, teacher, friend, and coworker to all of us, and he will be greatly missed.”

While at Bell’s, Mallett also continued to dedicate his talents to the industry writ large. He has served on numerous brewing technical committees and boards, including roles as president of the Master Brewers Association of the Americas, board member and Technical Committee Chairperson for the Brewers Association, chairperson of the American Malting Barley Association, and president of the Hop Quality Group. In 2002, he was the recipient of the Institute for Brewing Studies Russell Schehrer Award for Brewing Innovation, and in 2021, he was awarded the Recognition Award by the Brewers Association.

“As I reflect on my 20+ years of working out of Comstock, the brightest point by far is the relationships. I’ve built with coworkers, beer fans, farmers, researchers, suppliers, tradespersons, students, the media, publicans, design professionals, educators, distributors, regulators and fellow brewers,” said Mallett. “I can say without hesitation or doubt, that this has been an experience beyond my wildest dreams. The brands and breweries we’ve built together are impressive, but the people and teams behind these achievements deserve a far greater spotlight. Leading these teams has been a true honor for me professionally, and I know the leadership and all the coworkers at Bell’s remain steadfast in their commitment to always making world class beer.”

Mallett is a graduate of the Siebel Institute of Technology, where he taught for many years. He has authored many technical resources including Malt: A Practical Guide from Field to Brewhouse, Mallett is the proud father of two children, a volunteer ski patroller, a passionate sailor, and he is the only individual to have served professionally on every one of the World Beer Cup’s blind tasting panels.

John Mallett’s many accomplishments pale in comparison to the mark he has left on the culture and spirit of fun that exists at Bell’s. His legacy will live on as Bell’s continues into 2023 and beyond, and many a Two Hearted will be raised in his honor.

Craft ‘Ohana announces Trent Tokos as VP of marketing

Craft ‘Ohana, the umbrella company that owns Maui Brewing and Modern Times Beer, recently announced the addition of Trent Tokos, former VP of sales and marketing at Montana Craft Malt, as VP of marketing effective January 16, 2023. Tokos will oversee the marketing strategy for Craft ‘Ohana’s portfolio of brands, including Maui Brewing Co.Modern Times Beer + CoffeeMaui Hard Seltzer, and Kupu Spirits.

“We are happy to welcome Trent to our Craft ‘Ohana as the vice president of marketing,” said Chris McJunkin, chief commercial officer. “Trent brings to our team a wealth of experience in brand and field marketing across multiple breweries, along with his years in sales management that will help the Craft ‘Ohana family of brands with activations at wholesale and retail across our portfolio. Trent joins a talented Craft ‘Ohana marketing team and will be tasked with building out the remainder of the marketing department to extend our brand awareness and connection with our fans.”

As VP of sales and marketing at Montana Craft Malt, Tokos was an integral part of growing the company to one of the largest craft malt brands in the United States. Tokos previously spent 17 years at Craft Brew Alliance in brand and field marketing management, along with leadership roles in sales, where he worked directly on Widmer Brothers, Redhook, Wynwood Brewing, Goose Island, and Kona Brewing brands. Prior to CBA, Trent worked in marketing for Anheuser-Busch and sports marketing for Adidas. 

“I am so excited for the opportunity to work with a great group of people on an outstanding family of beverage brands,” said Tokos. “I look forward to building on the success of these award-winning coffee, beer, seltzer, and spirits brands.”

Eric Franco is the new vice president of U.S. sales for BrewDog

BrewDog, the internationally recognized, Scottish-born craft beer maker with a growing footprint throughout the states, recently announced Eric Franco as its new vice president of U.S. sales. Franco takes the helm as BrewDog’s growth reaches new milestones, including being ranked as one of the top 40 largest breweries in the United States by volume according to the Brewer’s Association, expanding its retail footprint with BrewDog Atlanta, its first bar in the Southeast, opening BrewDog Las Vegas, its largest location yet with a 30,000 sq-ft venue, and continued expansion expected in Colorado in 2023.  

Following roles with MillerCoors, SAB Miller and Founders Brewing Co., Franco joins the BrewDog team with more than 25 years of experience across the brewing and cannabis industries in both domestic and international markets. His vast knowledge of the brewing industry began in college, where he proudly started his beginnings in the world of craft beer as the owner of the first microbrew bar in El Paso, Texas.

From there, Franco held various leadership roles with MillersCoors/SAB Miller for more than 12 years before joining Founders Brewing as senior director of U.S. business and chain development, where he grew the brand through the development of the brewery’s chain organization, driving growth exponentially during his tenure. At BrewDog USA, Franco oversees strategic planning to maintain and grow BrewDog’s sales goals by working with its 83 wholesalers distributing the brand’s well-known headliners, seasonal brews, ciders and non-alcoholic beers to major retailers across the United States, as well as the nine bars located in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Georgia and Nevada.  

“We are excited about the wealth of knowledge and experience Eric brings to our team and look forward to reaching new heights for the brand under his leadership,” said Jason Block, CEO of BrewDog USA. “His perspective will be vital as BrewDog continues to make waves in America’s brewing industry and becomes a household name.” 

Craft beer vet David Bower named director of growth at BrewLogix

BrewLogix — a technology solutions company influencing the next trajectory of growth in the beverage hospitality and craft brew industries — recently announced David Bower as its new director of growth. As part of the company’s senior leadership team, Bower will be responsible for driving BrewLogix’s growth including go-to-market strategy development, sales operations, deal coaching, and marketing consultation. 

A proven strategic, analytical high growth leader in the beverage, CPG, manufacturing, tech and retail spaces, Bower brings over 10 years of sales, marketing, and operations leadership excellence to BrewLogix. Notably, Bower recently served as president of Upland Brewing Co., where he rose through the ranks starting as VP of sales and marketing and chief sales officer to the top position. During his tenure, Bower successfully grew the brewery’s national footprint, expanded their regional retail presence, and achieved consistent profitability. Bower also held sale positions at Sun King Brewing Company, Smoking Goose and Monarch Beverage Company. 

“David brings pivotal industry experience and insights to our team. His proven track record of real-world success is critical as we leverage cloud-powered technology to solve on-the-ground frustrations that bar, restaurant, and tap room operators understand to their cores,” said Lori Bolin, president and chief strategy officer, BrewLogix. “Our team is motivated by the opportunity to influence the next trajectory of growth in the hospitality industry and David’s storied history in the brewing and restaurant industries [including opening and operating restaurants] will enhance our ability to do that with the utmost empathy toward the customers we desire to impact. We are thrilled to welcome him to the BrewLogix family.” 

BrewLogix offers an integrated software ecosystem to help bars, restaurants, tap rooms, and breweries elevate customer and staff experiences that drive profitability and brand loyalty. Last month, BrewLogix launched the Performance Platform, a real-time draft inventory, tracking and management solution designed to deliver vital insights and product knowledge for draft beverage programs.  

“After years of holding leadership positions throughout the craft beer industry, I’m excited to bring a solution to the market that speaks to many of the operational challenges inherent in draft beer storage and service,” said Bower. “Speaking from experience, many draft beer program operators have accepted certain limitations and inefficiencies as the cost of doing business. BrewLogix provides a game changing level of insight and automation in our new Performance Platform that will change the way we think about draft beer service. I look forward to being a part of this incredible team.” 

Bower holds a double degree in Philosophy and Jewish Studies from Indiana University. Post-college, Bower held a restaurant management position for nears five years. He is a homebrewer (both beer and kombucha), recognized BJCP Beer Judge and Cicerone Certified Beer Server. 

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