Beer reps are the unsung heroes of the beer world. These fine folks deliver beer to your favourite pubs and stores. What more noble calling is there?
Here, we hope to highlight local beer reps and the good work they do.
The always upbeat Scott Lewin of Muskoka Brewery is a local rep here in Ottawa. Muskoka Scott was kind enough to talk us through a typical day in his magical world.
But before we dive in, some context into how Scott was introduced to beer. This journey starts many moons ago in Atlantic Canada…
“When I first started drinking beer, I quickly took to the less mainstream stuff. My beer of choice as a 19-year-old living in Nova Scotia was Sleeman Honey Brown, which progressed into drinking stuff like Big Rock Grasshopper, Garrison Raspberry Wheat, and spent a lot of time at the local brewpub in Wolfville, Paddy’s.”
“I graduated from Acadia with a Bachelor of Recreation Management in 2010, and when my wife (then partner) Sarah and I moved to Ottawa in 2012, we were blown away by just how much craft beer there was, and I started buying growlers at Broadhead & Beyond The Pale, and buying Beau’s releases at the LCBO. My uncle had a long career in the beer industry and had been hired as VP of Sales & Marketing at Muskoka Brewery a year or two before. I expressed interest in the beer scene in Ottawa, and mentioned that if he ever heard of anyone hiring to pass it on as I would like to apply. I wasn’t looking for anything specific, but I had experience in events management and a passion for local products. In July of 2013, the former Ottawa Territory Manager left to work for another brewery, and I got a call from Todd asking if I’d like to try and hold things down.”
And he’s still holding it down. Scott just celebrated his six-year anniversary with Muskoka Brewery. *confetti*
So what does a day in the life of Muskoka Scott look like? Turns out it begins earlier than I would have presumed.
“I wake up around 7-7:30 with a coffee and a smoothie. Spend some time in the home office setting up the day, responding to emails, taking care of the general admin, reviewing sales numbers, etc. I aim to be on the road for 9-9:30.”
“A typical retail call involves freshness checks, ensuring proper rotation, and facing up the product to make sure it’s looking good. I will speak to the manager or beer captain (author’s note: is this an official title?) to negotiate better shelf and fridge placements and let them know of upcoming promos so that they can order extra product to make displays as necessary. Some days I’ll have scheduled staff samplings where LCBO employees get a chance to try our products, especially new releases, which helps increase their product knowledge.”
“Mid-afternoon is a great time for prospecting for new accounts. A big part of prospecting is following up with places that I have previously dropped off samples. It often takes several visits before an account decides they want to become a partner. Truly, the most important part of the job is building relationships and establishing trust. Having a well-known, quality beer to sell helps a lot as well.”
“Late afternoon/evening I may drop in to see a few more licensee partners, buy a pint for some regulars or maybe a round for the staff to enjoy when they’re off shift. Some evenings I take care of the aforementioned samplings, handing out small cups of our delicious beers to entice them to order more. Whether you’re a devout Muskoka fan or have never tried our beer before, most people love a free beer sample!”
An impressively busy day! Thank you to Scott for giving us an inside look and for supplying the photos in this article. You can follow along at @MuskokaScott.