Fullsteam is hiring a Delivery Driver (or 2) in the Durham area. Check out the job listing and apply here. Also, check out Sean’s tips for applying at Fullsteam at the bottom of this post!
Craft Beverage Jobs Spotlight: Fullsteam Brewery
Craft Beverage Jobs founder, Cindy Molchany, recently sat down with Fullsteam Brewery owner, Sean Wilson, via a Google Plus Hangout. Among the variety of topics discussed, Sean shared with Cindy the Fullsteam vision for Southern Beer, the Craft Beer industry in North Carolina and their recent job opening featured on the Craft Beverage Jobs website.
Introducing Fullsteam Brewery In Durham, North Carolina
Cindy Molchany: Welcome, everyone. This is Cindy Molchany with Craft Beverage Jobs and I want to welcome you to our first Craft Beverage Jobs Spotlight. We’re going to be featuring craft beverage employers: breweries, wineries, distilled spirits and coffee producers. The Craft Beverage Jobs Spotlight will share the people behind the organizations and we will talk a little bit about job openings and the hiring force. This is really exciting, so welcome and thanks for joining us for this first one. For our first spotlight, we are happy to introduce Sean Lilly Wilson of Fullsteam Brewery out of Durham, North Carolina. Really excited to have Sean on the show. Fullsteam has been in operation since 2010.
Sean Wilson: We’re about to celebrate our fourth anniversary.
Cindy Molchany: Fullsteam has been really busy. I’ve never had your beer because I live in California and I know that you guys are fairly local in your distribution. I will be in North Carolina in November and can’t wait to try it. I’ve certainly known about Fullsteam and you’re a nationally known craft brewer. Before you even opened your doors you were named by Draft Magazine as beer innovator to watch. In 2012 and 2013, Sean was also a semi-finalist in the James Beard Foundation Awards as the Outstanding Beer, Wine and Spirits Professional. Great accolades, great job. Fullsteam is very well-known within the local beer community and economy. I would just like to introduce Sean and welcome you to the show.
Sean Wilson: Thank you, Cindy. I really appreciate the opportunity.
What Is Southern Beer?
Cindy Molchany: Take a few minutes and tell us a little about Fullsteam Brewery.
Sean Wilson: Fullsteam does about 3,000 barrels in annual production brewery so we’re at the medium size of a production brewery and we’re growing but we’re growing smartly. We go about it a little differently, instead of just doing traditional styles or having a focus on West Coast happy beers or something. Our whole focus is on what you mentioned plow-to-pint beer and that’s where we work with local ingredients, local farmers, even neighborhood friends and patrons to source ingredients and make distinctly southern beer. People ask us what is southern beer, we actually don’t really know yet. So four years in, we don’t really have all the answers but the process and the inspiration of making distinctly southern beer as well as a few traditional beer styles has been richly rewarding and enabled us to grow.
Grow kind of a steady phase because again we’re not going with really known and obvious, we’re doing some esoteric things and that requires some good story telling and good word of mouth to build on our platform.
Cindy Molchany: In terms of local ingredients, can you tell us what’s in season this summer and what kind of ingredients you’re working with?
Sean Wilson: Of course, two things that come to mind right away our most popular beer this time of year is our Summer Basil which is farmhouse ale made with three pounds per batch of local basil and North Carolina wheat. One of the things that’s fun about that beer is that it evolves over time so when we start brewing it in May when basils nuance or just getting going, fermentation temperatures in the brew house are a little lower, that beer is actually quite different than the beer in August when basil is at it’s peak and we let that tank rise and the yeast to ferment it at a higher temperature. Those nuances, we don’t do that with every beer but we do celebrate agricultural nuances of this beer and the long summer in the south where summer can mean different things.
There’s two different seasons of summer here in North Carolina. To make a beer that’s nuanced and it might not taste the same each time you drink it. That’s one kind of extreme example. We’re currently making another beer with Elderflowers. We get locally harvested and farmed Elderflowers which is the precursor to Elderberry, it’s what St. Germain is made from. We actually are adding that into the base beer and then at the tavern out here at our partner Fearrington Village which is a highly regarded inn and restaurant where you can have it straight or you could supplement it with an Elderflower syrup or a blackberry lemon syrup.
Fun things to really celebrate the seasonality and first here that come to mind of course around a peak summer year experience.
Cindy Molchany: Yeah, sounds delicious.
Sean Wilson: Thanks!
Fullsteam’s Southern Beer Economy
Cindy Molchany: I also read that your goal, your long term goal is to have everything that you make sourced within 300 miles.
Sean Wilson: We want to make a beer that we can scale up that is 300 miles. We’re also realistic and practical that we need to
make some beers that just frankly that pay the bills and enable us to get a little bit more creative because the cost of local bar is expensive, it should be as that industry gets going and local hops are limited supply but hopefully more over time. We don’t ever say that we intend to be fully local but we want to make that a big niche of what we do. We make some traditional beers like an IPA, a steamed style beer and Cream Ale which are distinctly American style beers in other words like a Cream Ale is kind of an American original.
You can say the same for American IPA and of course steamed beer is out your way a true American original. Those may or may not have local ingredients. Sometimes they do, like the Cream Ale, everything is local but the hops are IPA. It’s an IPA but it’s delicious, it’s tasty.
Craft Beer Industry In North Carolina
Cindy Molchany: To that, you’ve also been a leader in the industry there. You started two lobbying organizations to try and help promote the growth of the craft beer industry that I’m aware of. It’s obvious that you have very unique and close perspective to where craft beer was five years ago and where you think it’s going to go in North Carolina in another five years. Can you elaborate on the big picture from your perspective?
Sean Wilson: I can touch on it, take five years and go to five years from now and we’re in the midway points of it all. We’re in the beginning of a huge transformation with Sierra Nevada coming in, Oskar Blues here, New Belgium breaking grounds, all of the mountains and then a really robust, rich, beer team in North Carolina that had it’s roots in the four runners of a couple decades back with Highland and what Uli Bennewitz is doing at Weeping Radish. Just so we have the foundation for really good craft beer scene. We had to work on a couple of laws one in particular that limited alcohol by volumes under 6% that was frankly we worked on that, that got changed a whole lot of other people and helped in 2005.
That’s been, we really need to see that whole idea, the southern beer take root and take hold as we modernize North Carolina’s beer laws and celebrate the great things that are, we’re already here in place and enable future developmental growth.
Fullsteam Job Listing: Regional Sales Director (FILLED)
This job has been filled, but you can check out Fullsteam’s current open position for a Delivery Driver HERE
Cindy Molchany: As far as Fullsteam, you guys are growing but growing sustainably as you said and that leads us to our next topic which is that you guys are hiring.
That’s part of your growth. Tell us a little bit about the position that you have available and what it’s about.
Sean Wilson: You bet, part of our growth is to transition to what we’re really good at and what we’re passionate about and we’re really good at making beer and building community and celebrating North Carolina agriculture. We’re pretty good at distribution but we’re never going to be the experts at that so we’re actually looking to offload all or some of that as we transition and focus in. It’s a perfect time to look at the jobs that we’ve been holding and that we need in the future. As we grow and build up our capacity and we go from 3,000 barrels to probably five to probably nine and hit that J-curve growth. We really need somebody who has year experience ideally either in distribution or working on the supplier side or at the high level retail, high volume understanding some of these key accounts that are starting to approach us.
Big box retailers are interested in us now, larger supermarkets as well as specialty and then not only can take on those challenges and run with them but also balance our love and respect for the independence that have gotten us to this point and to make sure that they are getting the best and unique and great service from us and that we’re doing fun things across the board. It’s somebody who ideally has that experience and know-how and wisdom and maturity to work the magic in the industry and build off of our good name recognition and good track record in the market place and take it to the next level.
Cindy Molchany: Fullsteam is looking for a Regional Sales Director to be based out of their brewery in Durham, North Carolina. You can find this job description on the Craft Beverage Jobs website and I encourage you to apply if you think you have what it takes. If you do have what it takes, it sounds like a dream job in craft beer. I’m sure there’s a lot of eyeballs on this position and a lot of excitement around it. Sean, do you have anything last minute you’d like to share or say or questions for us?
Sean Wilson: I appreciate all that you’re doing and I’m excited to see you guys grow too and thanks for that because as we grow we want to be supporting you all and relying on you all a lot for that kind of niche pre-selected audience that gets craft beverage across the board. Thank you for doing what you’re doing.
Cindy Molchany: We are happy to help.
Sean Wilson’s Tips For Applying At Fullsteam
Sean Wilson: I will say this for people who are considering applying; a personalized cover letter goes a long way. I will look a lot harder at the resume if it has; it’s tailored a little bit to the individual or with some knowledge of the brewery and what we do. As a sort of obvious word of advice, get to know the brewery, find out some key facts, and express your passion because I get enough template applications as they are.
I’m not in the position right now and I know you know this, but just for those who might be watching or interested, I’m just not in the position to take a look at somebody who didn’t take time to craft something that resonates with me or that shows that they he or she knows a little bit about…
The way I look at it is craft beverage; the word craft is like take a little time and craft something good. Like we care about our product and our message that you care about your applications.
Cindy Molchany: If cover letters are intimidating to you which they can be if that’s not something that you’re naturally inclined to do, on our site we have a free download with tips on writing an Epic Cover Letter and it goes into personalizing it and gives high level tips to make you stand out above everyone else. That’s available on the Craft Beverage Jobs site as well. If you want to apply for this awesome position and you want a little bit of help in getting that cover letter polished up, go ahead and download those tips, free on our website.
Cindy Molchany: Just wanted to say thank you so much Sean. I can’t wait to visit and if you are in the Durham area you should definitely check out Fullsteam Brewery. They are dog friendly and kid friendly and it sounds like a really cool place. Can’t wait to visit. Thank you so much.
Sean Wilson: I look forward to hosting you and enjoy sharing a beer with you.
Cindy Molchany: Absolutely!
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