An interview with Deb Carey

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One on one with New Glarus Brewing Company’s President and Founder, Deb Carey

When opened: 1993

Brewing beer is a competitive industry. How did you make sure New Glarus stood out from other breweries?
We really focused on the product first and foremost, and then secondary to that, it was important to both Dan and myself … that we have integrity in what we do … There’s product quality, how you treat you team members, our packaging and marketing is an honest reflection of who we are and at the end of the day, to me, there’s been a big shift in the industry in that people are really hungry for something that seems relatable, and that is real. And so we’re just in the right place at the right time.

What were the early days of New Glarus like?
There was probably two years that neither Dan nor I had a day off. I think people get into running their own business, and there’s an urban legend that you run a business, and you’re your own boss. And so of course, what would you do if you’re in charge? Well you take vacation, you give yourself a raise, but in fact, in order to be successful when you’re in charge, really everybody is your boss. You’re the last guy to get vacation, the last guy to get time off, and you do all the crummy jobs to save the people around you.

What’s popular right now in the beer world for craft lovers?

Spotted Cow, one of New Glarus Brewery's most popular brews

The hardcore home brewers that spend a lot of time discussing and dissecting beers, they’re looking for whatever is the most esoteric Belgian beers, Oak-aged beers, beers with unusual ingredients have kind of been their thought.

And your average beer drinker?
I think…they are much more sophisticated in their drinking choices than they have been over the last five or 10 years, and that they’re looking for sophisticated flavors and things they can enjoy with a meal or over a period of time. Something that is genuinely, on a hedonistic level, pleasurable.

Of beer produced at New Glarus, which is your favorite?
I find it to be kind of funny because they’re all very important to us. We put a lot of time and energy into thinking of the beer flavor and the names and when they’ll come out and the time of year. So to us, they really are very personal, just very much like children. So it’s like saying “Who’s your favorite kid?” They have their own attributes at different times.

What’s something people don’t know about beer?
It’s an agricultural product, and it’s very, very natural. Really, the main ingredients or the only ingredients are yeast, water, hops and malted barley. And that surprises a lot of people.

What’s next for New Glarus?
We’re the same. We’re just here doing the best that we can every day.

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