Glycosidic Nitrile, You Really Should Care Now 

By: Becky Garrison

At the American Craft Spirits Association’s 2022 conference held February 10-12, 2023, in Portland, Oregon, Dr. Campbell Morrissy, a graduate research assistant in the Barley Project at Oregon State University, led a talk about why distillers should be concerned about Glycosidic Nitrile (GN).

  First, he defined GN as “naturally occurring plant metabolites that are used as defenses against predators.” They’re actually pretty sweet, and they are present in almost all plants.” Epiheterodendrin (EPH) is a type of GN found naturally in barley. 

During fermentation, yeast contributes beta-glucosidase, which acts on EPH, resulting in a precursor to hydrogen cyanide. Add heat and copper, and then suddenly,  EC (ethyl carbamate) is present in the final spirit.

    In the United States, there’s a voluntary limit of 125 parts per billion of EC permitted in alcohol products available for sale, which is quite low. As this is a voluntary limit, it’s become a regulatory gray area. As far back as 1993, high enough levels of EC were found in bourbon produced in the United States that would have exceeded regulatory limits established by the EU, UK, Canada and some other countries. Additionally, whiskey sold in Europe needs to meet that low EC concentration. So, those selling to the EU market may face regulation and monitoring of EC levels.

  About 30 years ago, those working with barley in the UK began to realize that GN resulted from barley variety. Now, more than 50 percent of all malting barley purchases in the UK are GN zero and essentially all for the distilling market. Morrissy added that those making whiskey in the UK use GN zero malt with no exceptions.

Defining Barley Varieties and EC Levels

  Generally, there are three categories for defining barley varieties and their propensity to create EC. The non-producer is GN zero, defined as anything less than half a gram per ton of EC. Low producers have 0.5 to 1.5 per ton, and high producers are 1.5 or greater per ton.

  A barley’s ability to produce EC can be measured in two ways. A PCR assay can ascertain whether a given barley variety will have the gene to produce EPH. Also, the quantitative method enables one to measure photometrically if a particular barley reacts to hydrogen cyanide.

  Low GN producers will still produce GN, and its production can be modulated during malting. Anything that’s going to promote malt modification is going to result in more GN. Here, one needs to look at the length of germination. Typically, the germination time for brewing malt is about four days, though with a distiller’s malt, germination can go up to five days, depending on the type. As germination increases, one can see a pretty clear relationship with the level of glycosidic nitrile. While barley variety is important, what matters more is how it malts. Hence, Morrissy recommends connecting with the malthouse to work together to see if pushing modification will impact the EC levels of the resulting spirit.

What Look for When Breeding Barley

  First and foremost, Morrissy stresses looking for strong agronomics. “The farmers are going to need to grow something that they can rely on. Thankfully through very traditional plant breeding techniques, we produce high yielders with low disease resistance, which means fewer inputs. We breed for intolerance for drought and look into low-temperature tolerance for winter lines,” he states.

  Also, Morrissy suggests looking at AMBA-recommended specifications for malt guidelines to select grains known to produce high-quality malt. Along those lines, look for multi-environment adaptation that can be grown all over the place and weather new climatic experiences.

  Here, one needs to differentiate between growing spring or winter barley. Spring barley is planted in the spring and harvested in the summer. Conversely, winter barley is planted in the fall and harvested in the summer. Unlike spring barley, winter barley goes through vernalization and overwinters.

  Winter barley yields more often and has a low-temperature tolerance and less water requirement. When it requires water, it tends to be when water is abundant in most regions due to runoff from winter and late spring rains. While one of the best things for winter barley is snow, some historically very cold places do not see the same snowpack they used to see. Also, winter barley is an excellent erosion control for winter.

  Morrissy observes, “In those places that are windy, putting something that has a root structure in the ground can preserve a lot more topsoil. You also kind of have a de facto cover crop in a time that it might be fallow, so you’re going to out-compete weeds. You may have some pest resistance associated with that.”

  Morrissy notes that different regulatory mechanisms within that GN gene pack can turn on or off depending on climatic changes. Right now, they are not sure how environmental stress response impacts GM production. Currently, more research is needed to understand how the environment impacts GM production in the field.

Producing GN Zero Barley Varieties

  Currently, there’s one GN0 variety approved by the American Malted Barley Association (AMBA). However, Morrissy predicts that with the advent of AMBA’s new recommendations that all varieties of malt for distilling be GN zero, we will start seeing more of these come on the market for brewing and distilling as they go through the AMBA pipeline. Also, some foreign varieties are coming from the private breeding program, and U.S. land grant institutions are breeding some domestic varieties.

  An interesting alternative is naked or hull-less barley. Inherently naked barley is GN zero, though, as Morrissy noted, there isn’t a great supply chain for naked barley right now. Still, there’s a lot of potential for sowing grain without the husk, as that can take up five to seven percent of the total weight of the grain. “If you’re not lautering, you’re doing grain fermentations, or maybe you have a mash filter, you don’t need the husk,” he states.

  At this writing, 10 public breeding programs in the US are working on barley. They’re covering many different areas, producing barley that’s well suited for those larger growing regions and collaborating to make sure that the genetic stocks for sustainability are being shared industry-wide.

Managing EC in the Distillery

  EC is a lowly volatile, heavyweight compound,   whereas its precursor hydrogen cyanide is a very highly volatile, low molecular weight compound. So, according to Morrissy, the more EC that can be formed in the stills and recovered in the silage, the less it will make it into the barrel. Depending on the distilling technique, Morrissy thinks the cyanide fraction is volatile, and the conversation into EC happens very quickly, though it might not get picked up until the spirit is in the barrel.

  Early investigations into the distilling technique find that reflux is highly important in controlling EC. Also, still design and still feed are so important. Trace amounts of EC will form during fermentation, but primarily, the copper catalyst in distillation produces EC. While this work is in the emerging stages, research with copper contact and reflux and controlling EC looks promising.

  For further research into this topic, Morrissy recommends The Hartwick College Center for Craft Food & Beverage, a testing and education resource that supports small and mid-sized breweries, malthouses, farms and other craft food and beverage producers. Also, he suggests joining the American Malted Barley Association.

Enforcing Your Trademarks: How Far Should You Go?

By: Brian D. Kaider, Esq.

You’ve secured federal registration for your trademarks and you’ve been building your brand recognition.  Per your trademark attorney’s recommendation, you’ve had quarterly searches conducted to find similar marks.  Lo and behold, a new entry to the market is using your trademark.  Now what?  Stop and take a breath; let the initial surprise or anger settle. There is a lot to consider before taking any action.

Take Stock of the Situation

  First, take a look at your own trademark.  Is it the name of your company or of one of your products?  Is it a national brand or one that is distributed in a small geographic area?  In what classes of goods and services is it registered (e.g., class 033 for vodka, class 040 for “rectification of distilled spirits for others,” etc.)?

  Then look at the competitor’s mark.  Is the mark identical to yours or similar?  How similar?  Is it broadly distributed?  Is it used for the same goods and services as your mark?  If not, how similar are the goods and services?  Are your products marketed through the same trade channels?  Are consumers likely to encounter both your products and theirs?  Have they attempted to register their trademark and, if so, where are they in that process?

  No one question will be determinative in any given case, but on balance, they will help develop a sense of how much effort should be expended to enforce your rights.  As discussed below, there are numerous paths, each with its own set of risks and potential rewards.  An international brand that is known throughout the industry, like Jack Daniel’s®, must be far more protective of its marks than a small brewery in Oregon that has a registered trademark for an IPA product only distributed in the Pacific Northwest.

First Contact

  As the owner of a registered trademark, it is your duty to “police” your mark; that is, to monitor unauthorized use of your mark by others and to enforce your right to exclusivity of that mark.  When large corporations learn of potential infringement, their immediate response is generally to have their attorneys send a cease and desist (C&D) letter.  For smaller companies, a personal attempt to contact the owner of the infringing business is often effective.  Sometimes the other party simply did not know about your mark.  If you found their use of the mark before they spent considerable time and money developing it as a brand, they may be willing to simply let it go.

  When making these calls, it is important to maintain a demeanor that is both friendly and firm.  There is no need to accuse the other side of wrong-doing or of violating your trademark knowingly.  However, you should simply let them know that you do have a registration for the mark and that their use is likely to cause confusion in the market as to the source of your respective goods.  If you give them a reasonable amount of time to work through any inventory bearing the infringing mark and to rebrand, this can often be the end of the matter.

Cease and Desist Letter

  If the friendly approach doesn’t work, the next step is generally a cease and desist letter.  This is most effective if drafted and sent by an attorney.  The tone of these letters tends to be more matter-of-fact.  They identify your trademark(s); explain that you have spent a considerable amount of time, effort, and money to build your brand around the mark; identify the other party’s infringing use; state that the use is unauthorized and likely to cause economic harm and loss of goodwill in your brand; and demand that they stop using the mark within a given time frame.

  While these letters can sometimes be effective, especially against smaller companies, they have become so commonplace that often they are simply ignored by more savvy companies who may wait to see if further steps are taken before deciding whether to rebrand.  Accordingly, you should carefully weigh all of your options and decide in advance whether you will escalate the matter if your C&D letter is ignored.

Letter of Protest / Trademark Opposition

  If the other side has attempted to register their mark, there are two ways to try to prevent the registration.  First, you can file a “letter of protest” with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).  The letter simply informs the trademark examiner of the existence of your trademark and the reasons why you feel that registration of the other party’s mark would damage your mark.  The benefit of this approach is that it is quick, easy, and relatively inexpensive as it generally only takes a few hours for an attorney to prepare and file the letter.  Often filing the letter will prompt the USPTO to issue an office action refusing the registration in light of your trademark, forcing the other side to argue why registration should be allowed.  The downside to the letter of protest is that once it is filed, you have no further opportunity to engage in the process.  If the other side responds to an office action with arguments as to why registration should be permitted, you cannot respond to those arguments. 

  Whether you have filed a letter of protest or not, if the USPTO’s trademark examiner determines that the mark is registerable, it will publish the mark in the Official Gazette.  This publication opens a 30-day window for anyone who believes they will be harmed by registration of the mark to file an opposition to the application.  

  This process should not be entered into lightly.  In some cases, simply filing the opposition will be enough to get the other side to give up its mark.  But, if they choose to fight the opposition, you will find yourself in a litigious process that takes time, effort, and money to complete.  As in civil litigation, the parties to an opposition file motions and briefs, request documents from the other side, take depositions, serve interrogatories that must be answered, and present their evidence to the Trademark Trials and Appeals Board for its consideration. 

  If the opposition goes all the way to the trial stage, it will generally take at least 18 months from when the notice is filed to when the last brief is due and will cost each side in the tens of thousands of dollars.  As with civil litigation, most oppositions do not reach the trial stage, because the parties are able to come to terms and settle the dispute on their own.  But, this often does not occur until sometime in the discovery phase, after both sides have spent a considerable amount on legal fees.

  It is important to note that the object of an opposition proceeding is to prevent registration of the other side’s trademark and, if you are successful, that is your sole remedy.  There are no monetary damages awarded, nor can you recover your legal fees from the other side.  Moreover, while they will lose their ability to register their trademark, it does not necessarily mean the other side will stop using the mark on their goods or services.  In that case, you would have to file a trademark infringement litigation (see below) to get them to stop using the mark, entirely.  In practical terms, succeeding in an opposition will often be enough to get the other side to abandon their mark, because if you were to follow through with a civil litigation, they could be on the hook for treble damages for willful infringement.

Trademark Cancellation

  If you discover the other side’s trademark application after the 30-day opposition window has expired, your only option to challenge the mark at the USPTO is to wait until the trademark actually registers and then to file a trademark cancellation proceeding.  Though there are some differences between cancellation and opposition proceedings, particularly if the challenged mark has been registered for more than five years, they are similar in most procedural respects. 

Trademark Infringement Litigation

  As one might expect, filing a trademark infringement case in federal court is the nuclear option.  Depending upon the jurisdiction, the time frame for completing a litigation may be faster or slower than an opposition or cancellation proceeding at the USPTO.  But, whereas those procedures will likely cost the parties tens of thousands of dollars, a civil litigation will likely reach six figures, or more. 

  The reason for this higher cost is that there are more issues to consider in these cases.  If you are successful in a civil litigation, you may not only obtain injunctive relief, foreclosing the defendant from all future use of the mark, but also may obtain monetary damages associated with the defendant’s past use of the mark, as well as attorney’s fees expended in the proceeding.  Moreover, if the defendant is found to have willfully infringed your trademark, they may be required to pay treble damages. 

  These issues, which are not even addressed in an opposition/cancellation, add breadth to the scope of discovery taken, which increases the cost.  Further, whereas most opposition/cancellation proceedings are decided without an oral hearing, a civil litigation generally requires live testimony and argument in front of a judge or jury.  These proceedings require a great deal of attorney preparation, dramatically increasing legal fees.


  As the owner of a valid trademark registration, you are obligated to police your mark and failure to do so can result in a dramatic diminishment of your rights or even outright abandonment of your registration.  But, that does not mean you have to file a civil litigation against every minor infringement.  Determining the appropriate path in any given situation requires a careful evaluation of all the circumstances and balancing the risks of action versus inaction.  It is critical to engage a knowledgeable trademark attorney, who will properly assess these risks, your likelihood of success, and the most effective course of action in your case.  

  Brian Kaider is a principal of KaiderLaw, an intellectual property law firm with extensive experience in the craft beverage industry.  He has represented clients from the smallest of start-up breweries to Fortune 500 corporations in the navigation of regulatory requirements, drafting and negotiating contracts, prosecuting trademark and patent applications, and complex commercial litigation. 

Minglewood Distilling Company

Rising From The Ashes

By: Gerald Dlubala

In the 1880s, in Northern Lawrence County, Ohio, James Mullins noticed an abundance of coal mines popping up. The area was rich in coal, and Mullins decided he wanted to cash in on the surging coal mining business, so he purchased a plot of land between the already-operating Beechwood and Oakwood mines to open his own coal mine. However, before opening, he was reminded by his new hires, many of whom were local and in need of work, that it would surely be bad luck to open and operate a coal mine without properly naming the mine, similar to the naming of ships before launch. Mullins’ wife mentioned that their coal mine settled nicely between the neighboring mines, mingling between them. That single comment launched the beginning of the Minglewood Coal & Ice Company that has now, well over 100 years later, become home to the Minglewood Distilling Company, a small-batch micro-distillery located in Wooster, Ohio.

  Mullins sold coal from his mine and ice procured from the nearby lake when frozen until 1921, when he added a second building on the property. It was heavily insulated with natural cork and used specifically as an ice factory, providing sanitary or electric ice made from distilled water.

  As the years passed, electric refrigerators and natural gas availability sharply reduced the vast need for purchased ice and coal. That demand reduction led to Minglewood Coal & Ice Company closing its doors in the 1950s. An auto repair business took over the smaller building, and the larger, cork-insulated building that once housed an ice factory was transformed into a beer and wine carryout store. The carryout liquor store sustained heavy fire damage in the 1970s and sat in ruin from that day forward, including a massive amount of burnt cork waste. The damage was so bad that the city had plans to demolish the building until current co-owner Mark Morrison purchased the land with the remains of the two buildings included. The city also halted demolition plans on what remained of the damaged buildings providing Morrison would start working on and improving the property immediately. This land purchase began the beginnings of the Minglewood Distilling Company. Morrison opted to keep the Minglewood name out of respect for the area’s history, a trait that continues throughout the distillery, its story and its products.

Carrying on the Minglewood Name

  “We still have two buildings on the property,” said Andrew Morrison, son of Mark and now co-owner and distiller. “The larger building is the original 1880s icehouse heavily damaged in the fire. The smaller building had at least a partial roof and some electricity availability, making it the more practical place to start the restorations and renovations. We started distilling in 2016 and opened to the public beginning in 2017.”

  “The larger building, the former ice plant, has been under renovation for the last four years. It took a lot longer, not only because of the extent of the fire damage but the cleanup included so much burnt cork insulation waste. It must’ve been at least five feet deep, and we actually began by digging it out by hand,” said Morrison. “Additionally, the pandemic slowed everything dramatically. But in May 2023, we were able to host our first event in the space, and it is now open as an event venue for weddings, get-togethers, parties, corporate events and anything else that would benefit from being held in a private space. The back half of the building now houses our production area, and the smaller building we originally used for production is now a permanent bottling facility. We had been rolling out temporary tables to use as our bottling solution, but now, with updated production facilities and available bottling solutions, we hope to increase production and extend our reach substantially.”

  Morrison tells Beverage Master Magazine that patrons will enjoy a rustic, classy space when visiting. The tasting room vibe is reminiscent of the 1940s and 1950s eras, featuring industrial décor with brick walls, concrete floors and exposed ceiling beams.

  “I wouldn’t call it trendy or hip,” said Morrison, “But rather, it’s a place with a throwback feel that reflects and showcases our pride in doing things in the older, traditional ways. Our customers can immediately sense they’re in for a quality experience with owners who care about their products and the visitor experience.

  The Morrisons currently use a stainless steel, hybrid reflux column pot still with a 500-gallon capacity that feeds into a 12-plate reflux column. Their current production schedule is distilling two to three batches a week from November through April, when the city water temperature is perfect for their needs.

  “We use a lot of city water for cooling processes, and in those winter months, the water temperature hovers around 40 degrees, which is perfect for our operation,” said Morrison. “Additionally, our equipment is big enough that, for now, we can make what we need for the year during those months. We generally produce a barrel out of each distillation, which comes to about 50 barrels a year, mostly bourbon and rye, and we distill corn whisky for our flavored whisky products. So, we do have the option to ramp up production rather quickly if and when needed.”

Reigniting the Area’s Historical

Passion with Rye

  After the Revolutionary War and in the 1800s, Germans immigrated to Ohio, including Wayne County. They brought rye from Europe with the intent of farming. Rye is a winter crop that fits extraordinarily well with Ohio’s temperature fluctuations and extremes, including the high freeze and thaw rates in the winter months. When a successful harvest came in spring, farmers found themselves with an excess of rye grains and looked for additional uses, leading to small pot stills on the farms to distill the grains and raise extra money. However, during the Civil War in the 1860s, excise taxes became a reality. As you can expect, farmers didn’t want to deal with the taxes, so many became moonshiners while local granaries became distilleries. Morrison also speculated that with the proximity of Route 30, a major thoroughfare running from the East Coast to Chicago, it’s not a far stretch to think that moonshining and moonshine distribution were also lucrative businesses.

  “Most people don’t remember that the Cedar Valley Distilling Company operated in Wooster between 1862 through the 1940s,” said Morrison. “We like their story and try to keep it alive in our tours with historically accurate retellings. The owner started with a grist mill, purchasing grain from local farmers and hiring additional local farmers and construction workers when other work was unavailable. The distillery was successful enough that they eventually moved to a larger facility, and from all accounts, they could produce 25 barrels a day during their peak production in the late 1800s.”

  “That’s simply unfathomable to me,” said Morrison. “If we ran 24/7 here, we could produce two barrels daily. Cedar Valley Distillery only made rye whisky, and they suddenly found themselves with a very large backstock when prohibition hit. They were able to get a license to distribute medicinal prescriptions, so their backstock ended up being distributed through prescription only. By the time prohibition ended, their backstock was dwindling away to almost nothing due to their prescription distribution and likely a bit of bootlegging. So, they started selling a 65 percent Cuban Rum liquor cut with six-month-old rye whisky aged with wood chips. We actually found some of the bottles over the years, and as you would expect, the concoction was horrible and definitely not a money-maker, causing the distillery to close its doors. Cedar Valley’s buildings and memories are now gone, and it’s rare to find someone in Wooster who remembers them, but we want to keep that history alive. Like them, we make our rye whisky using all local ingredients. We enjoy highly communicative and exceptional relationships with our farmers, who have become more like partners than suppliers. Our corn is grown about five minutes away, just outside of Wooster. Our rye comes from about 15 minutes away, in Dalton, which is eastern Wayne County, and our wheat comes from a co-op just north of us in Seville.”

Community and Partner-Suppliers

Are Critical

  Mark Morrison originally opened Minglewood Distillery with help from a friend that owned and operated wineries in the region. His son Andrew would work with them when he was available. In 2019, Andrew finished his studies, and when Morrison’s partner wanted to return to his true passion, meaning his wineries, the Morrisons bought him out. From that day forward, the father and son team became 50/50 partners, co-owners and distillers.

  “We’ve been using the same farmers for six years since beginning our distillery,” said Morrison. “We are fortunate to have no worries about the consistency and quality of our ingredients or products, and our communication couldn’t be better. Even when our suppliers had a bad year, causing lower overall yields, they told us they had a crop dedicated to us, so we shouldn’t worry. That type of communication and partnership is invaluable.”

  The future looks bright and tasty for Minglewood Distilling Company. Morrison tells Beverage Master that they are looking forward to increasing production and bottling capacity thanks to the updated availability of both buildings. They plan to bump up their bourbon production, eventually offering bottled-in-bond bourbon and rye selections and expanding the overall lineup with more variety and premium offerings.

  For those following the path to owning a distillery in a state that controls licensing, Morrison says that those future distillers should apply to get their license early. He waited, and because the process was a lengthy one, Minglewood initially was only allowed to distill and provide small samples (one ounce per person, per day, cut into quarter-ounce samples) to their patrons, which wasn’t enough for proper tastings to be held or sell their liquors by the bottle. Morrison said that selling cocktails is critical to the bottom line, so obtaining that serving license is important for customers to get to know your products and want to purchase them regularly. Minglewood Distilling Company’s best sellers have been their flavored offerings, with peach leading the way. It really took off in 2020 and hasn’t slowed. Their upcoming pickle whisky is set to be a hit, and a much-anticipated root beer whisky will be available this fall.

  In addition to being able to taste their product lineup at their distillery and tasting room, Minglewood Distillery offers a kitchen and full bar for service and menu offerings featuring meat and cheese boards.

To learn more about Minglewood Distilling Company and its products, visit:

Minglewood Distilling Company

437 East South Street

Wooster, Ohio, 44691

(330) 601-1600

Scaling Production with Precision

By: Kris Bohm of Distillery Now Consulting

Many beverage businesses start off with the owners or the founders serving in production manufacturing and in sales roles. As the business grows it is no longer feasible for the founders to serve in many of these roles as the needs of the business change with growth. One of the challenges many founders face in scaling their business is maintaining consistent manufacturing practices when they are no longer the person who is responsible for those practices. Training for new employees in small businesses can sometimes be inconsistent or informal.  When training is not implemented cleanly enough that a newly hired employee can fulfill their responsibilities fully it can be frustrating for all involved. Lets take a look at some easy to implement solutions that can help your employees do the best job possible.

  One solution to this problem is creating Standard Operating Procedures (SOP). When you detail in writing each step of the manufacturing process in a document that is readily available to those performing the task, you should get more consistent results. Standard operating procedures can be tedious to create but will save you time in the long run and give your employees the confidence to perform complex tasks with ease. In the process of beverage manufacturing there are many complex steps. Without a set of standard operating procedures it can be extremely difficult for a new hire to fully grasp their roles and responsibilities.

  The optimal steps in training a new hire are the following. Create a written set of operating procedures that are clear and easy to follow. Review the SOP with employees and discuss the steps with them as well to confirm understanding. Once an employee has a basic understanding of the operating procedure the person training the employee along with the new employee should go through the process detailed in the SOP together. By having the trainer first complete the process while following the SOP it will fully demonstrate for the employee how the steps are done. This on hand training will often bring up questions from the employee being trained that might not otherwise come up. Once the employee being trained has seen the process completed following the SOP it is best for them to then complete the procedure outlined in the SOP in the presence of the trainer. It is critical at this step that the trainer does not work hands on with the new employee but is there to only observe and answer questions. If the trainer at this point feels that the employee grasps the SOP and is able to complete it then it is time to move on to additional training. Although this method of training can feel arduous and redundant for an employee, training like this will build their confidence in performing a task that may seem difficult for them. Training this way will also ensure that the manufacturing process will continue to be performed to the correct standards. Implementing a training of this type for all complex tasks will give the creator of the SOP trust in the individuals tasked with completing the process in the SOP.

 Let’s take a look at what a standard operating procedure looks like for a process in a business and talk about some of the key points that you will find in an SOP.

  Let’s go through the practice of generating an SOP:

1)   Go through the process yourself of completing the task that needs a SOP.

2)   Write down all steps and processes required to complete that task.

3)   If there are certain measurements critical to completing the task such as volume temperature or time, include this info in the steps.

4)   If there are complex controls or tools in the process include pictures to help further clarify the written steps.

5)   Place notes in the SOP if there are any hazards in the process or safety concerns.

6)   If there are many steps it can be helpful to add a checklist to accompany the SOP.

7)   Once the SOP has been written, seek feedback on it. Have another person read the SOP ask if they could perform the task.

8)   If the feedback is positive implement that SOP by training your employees.

9)   Put the SOP in a binder or place where it is nearby the location where the task is performed.

  This process of putting in the work to create easy to follow operating procedures, will make work better for everyone. An SOP will guide your employees as they do tasks and give them the confidence that will require less oversight by you. This does not mean that an SOP can replace a manager. The true purpose of an SOP is to provide a resource to ensure complex activities can be done correctly by all who perform it. As a business grows and scales new employees will need to learn how to do their job. The better SOP program you have the faster a new employee will be able to work independently.

Greenbar Distillery: Going Beyond the Spirit

By: Gerald Dlubala

Located in the arts district of Los Angeles, the Greenbar Distillery operates in a historic brick building built in 1905 and positioned in the same diverse neighborhood that houses iconic residents like Warner Brothers Music, Soho House and Hyperloop. Intermingled with high-end coffee shops, trendy barbershops and homeless tents, husband-and-wife team Melkon Khosrovian and Litty Matthews transformed an old strip club into the Greenbar Distillery in 2011.

  “Our space is colorful, modern, vibrant and warm,” said Khosrovian. “It is multicultural and optimistic, invoking the classic positive vibe of LA, where people come to fulfill their dreams, whatever they may be. There are giant windows overlooking our production floor, so customers can see and understand what we’re all about. We were the first distillery in Los Angeles since at least the Prohibition Era. For the true cocktail lover, Greenbar Distillery was the only exposure to the industry for at least a decade, so we wanted to make sure that if cocktail lovers found us, we did the best possible job to make their cocktail experience positive and up to all of their expectations, while showing them what goes into running a distillery.”

  Khosrovian tells Beverage Master Magazine that the distillery came about out of necessity to keep up with the demand for their homemade spirits beginning in 2004. Neither Khosrovian nor Matthews had any actual distilling or spirits experience. They met in graduate school, and their experience with spirits was only from the consumer side of the bar. But within two years, their home distilling hobby blossomed and became more work than a hobby.

  “We were engaged and doing the normal family circuit, meeting each other’s families, relatives and friends,” said Khosrovian. “For us and our heritage, that meant hosting big gatherings with big meals and frequent toasts featuring our homemade, fruit-based, high-proof alcohol. Litty is a trained chef and foodie with an educated palette, and she considered our homemade alcohol to be slightly medicinal and, frankly, not very good. She would politely pick up her glass for the toast but set it down again without drinking. That was awkward for me, so I set out to make something she would enjoy by incorporating the same culinary skills and techniques she used to produce her amazing food. Additionally, we took trips to the farmers’ markets to find ingredients to add in different ways and improve our alcohol’s flavor and aroma. We had some success, which we quickly bottled for future family gatherings using homemade printed labels. The ultimate feeling of success was when family and friends asked for more, and then friends of friends started requesting bottles of our product.”

  Khosrovian said that interest in their homemade spirits sparked a serious conversation about which direction to take their success. Luckily for all of us, they chose to start distilling on a larger scale. The first step was renting a small space in a nearby town that allowed a slightly larger scale of production to satisfy the demand from friends and relatives but also allowed them to be able to connect with and supply some of the local bars, hotels and restaurants that had an interest in using their products.

  “This was pre-pandemic when 80 percent of our business was related to being used as a bartender brand in restaurants, bars and hotels,” said Khosrovian. “We had tried to gain the home drinker’s interest by putting recipes on our labels, setting up stands at stores with recipes that they could make at home and hosting classes and tastings to try and see where we could improve our marketing and increase bottle sales, but nothing seemed to work. Actually, the reverse happened, even though our drinks received rave reviews. We were totally baffled but finally realized the only way to pursue our dream of showing customers how to drink better and more interesting things using our products was to make it easier for the consumer and provide ready-to-drink (RTD) cocktails.”

  So, Greenbar started offering three spritz cocktails in cans, and as Khosrovian would later admit, that timing was crucial because shortly after, the pandemic closed the bars, hotels and restaurants, literally all of their income sources.


Pandemic Problems Lead to Successful Solutions

  “The pandemic took away our revenue stream, and since we already found that consumers were unwilling to put in the work to make our cocktails at home, our only choice at this point was to can our cocktails and provide them as additional RTD options,” said Khosrovian. “Initially, we made everything in-house, including vodka, but now our base alcohol is made to our standards off-site. We use the base alcohols to ferment things like rum and whiskey on site and then redistill things like gin, liqueurs and amaro using our unique flavorings. We initially made and carbonated our RTDs in-house and used mobile canners for packaging, but it became very costly and difficult to get on their schedule and adhere to their specified run sizes. Forecasting our needs that far in advance was also a challenge, so about two and a half years ago, we invested in a medium-speed canning line that allows us to do 100 cans per minute in-house, on-site. With a two-million-dollar investment in additional accessories, we can do everything in-house, from creating the spirits to creating carbonated beverages to packaging.”

  “Today, the RTD market remains about 75 percent of our business, and surprisingly, most of it is in the NA (no alcohol) market,” said Khosrovian. “That fact initially humbled us, but as we began to work with markets, who were quite literally our lifeline to the public, we saw that they were getting a lot of questions about NA or LA (low alcohol) options. Those markets were rapidly growing, but consumers wanted something different than only the juice additives or normally available seltzers.”

  Khosrovian said they dove into the NA topic to see if it was a legitimate option because the idea of cocktails without alcohol was unfamiliar to him.

  “We needed to know what the consumers were really after in these types of drinks,” said Khosrovian. “So, we talked to consumers who either drank alcohol minimally or not at all and found the qualities consumers were after in these types of cocktails were related more to the experience of drinking the cocktail than the actual effects of the alcohol.”

•   They wanted something that changed their mood. With proper flavoring and layering, consumers will respond to NA cocktails in the same ways they do to complex, layered, alcohol-based cocktails.

•   Consumers wanted something that reengineered their brains and jolted them out of work mode and into a more social mode, similar to the vibe that alcohol-based counterparts do.

•   They wanted something they could drink comfortably and slowly, changing the tempo and brain function to initiate a slower pace to their mental state and social interactions.

  “We began to ask ourselves if we could provide these things with NA cocktails and have them function and deliver the overall experience similar to their alcohol-based counterparts. The answer was obviously yes, because consumers are looking for more of these types of options. As a result, NA cocktails can be enjoyed more often and in more situations without the limitations or consequences of alcohol consumption.

Organics, Sustainability and One-Bottle-One-Tree

  Khosrovian tells Beverage Master Magazine that sustainability wasn’t a primary goal of Greenbar Distillery but rather an accidental, fortunate outcome of their business philosophy. In California, where the growing season is year-round, Khosrovian always requests the best aromatic and flavorful produce from partnering farmers. When he inadvertently received a harvest from a certified organic orchard without his knowledge, a batch of chocolate orange vodka was noticeably different. It was better, as in more aromatic and more flavorful, but different. That experience from a grower growing organic to make sure his farm would be a lasting legacy for future generations made such an impression because of the increased flavor and aroma that Khosrovian and Matthews immediately decided to use only organic ingredients from that day forward. But they also researched and learned more about implementing organic and sustainable practices in other production areas.

  “We applied this same way of thinking to our packaging, including bottles, printing, labeling, capsules and so on,” said Khosrovian. “We traditionally used heavyweight bottles with laminated labels on virgin paper that would last 100 years. But who would actually want to keep these things that long? We continually asked ourselves what else we could do to help. Both of our heritages have a tradition of planting a tree for every baby born in the family, and in a way, these bottles are our kids. So, we started a program to plant a tree for every bottle we sold, and the Greenbar name was born. It just felt right to give back for our success. We communicated this to all of our customers, and it sounded noble, but no one knew what it actually meant. We needed verifiable results, so after the first year, we hired agencies to determine what effect this action of planting high-canopy trees in return for bottle sales really had on our carbon footprint. In consumer terms, the results showed that if the average American drinks one and a half ounces of our spirits in a day, they are carbon negative for that day. It’s a little thing, but eventually, it adds up and makes a difference. Since 2008, we’ve planted over a million trees, equating to 10 to 12 million carbon-neutral people daily.”

  “So, now we ask, what has your drink done for you?” said Khosrovian. “We’re not revolutionizing or stopping climate change, but it’s something for the consumer to consider. We still have to deliver on our promise of drinking better and more interesting things with great taste, but if the consumer has a choice between products that give them the same or better experience, then maybe they can look towards products that go beyond the spirit and help out in other ways.”

Staying Within Yourself

  “I would tell anyone starting in this business first to get to know yourself and be true to your feelings because, in the end, that’s what you’ll end up doing,” said Khosrovian. “Don’t shortchange yourself or your possibilities because you don’t have to follow anyone’s footsteps in distilling. Grab your chance to be creative, and whatever you do will work and be satisfying. Some will like it, some won’t and that’s okay, but fakes usually don’t last. We’ve evolved over 18 years from helping restaurant, bar and hotel industries serve those who prefer to drink better outside of the home to helping customers drink better wherever they want to consume our products. We’ve learned things the hard way, but frankly, we got lucky on many business fronts as well. We are very good at manipulating and layering flavors to make our products delicious, flavorful and interesting to the consumer. In return, they appreciated and wanted more. Our love and passion come through in our products, so much so that as a loving gesture to my wife, Litty, there is a heart on nearly every one of our products, signifying how we got all of this started.”

  Khosrovian and Matthews also look for that same creativity, passion and willingness to play and learn in their employees. The freedom to express oneself and occasionally screw up is part of being a Greenbar Distillery employee. Khosrovian says mistakes happen and are okay because that learning experience will lead to improvements and ultimately result in happy customers.

Consumers Drive Future Goals

  “We will be going more towards the whole cocktail as our product versus only ingredients,” said Khosrovian. “This includes looking at RTDs in every format available, versus only base spirits. Our experience has opened our eyes to how much the customer is willing to embrace cocktails outside of the bar atmosphere, provided we can give them a similar experience and level of comfort. As happy as we are that the restaurant and bar world has returned, regularly going out to a bar can be inconvenient and expensive. We provide the best of the bar experience for consumers in every format possible, wherever they choose to drink better and more interestingly to enjoy our products”.

  Greenbar Distillery now makes the most extensive portfolio of organic spirits globally. Joining their TRU Vodkas are CRUSOE Rums, IXA Tequilas, SLOW HAND Whiskeys, FRUITLAB Liqueurs, CITY Gins, GRAND POPPY and GRAND HOPS Amari and BAR KEEP Bitters.

  “As a craft distiller, we always strive to meet the consumers where they are to ensure their craft cocktail experience is better, easier and more interesting.”

  For more product information, or to learn more about Greenbar Distillery, visit or call: Greenbar Distillery, 2459 E 8th Street, Los Angeles, CA  90021, (213) 375-3668,

Carbon Dioxide & Nitrogen Play Important Roles in Craft Beverage Production

By: Gerald Dlubala

The production, delivery and packaging of beer and the use of gases like carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitrogen (N2) are inseparable. But because CO2 is also a natural byproduct of the brewing process, monitoring its levels during and in the delivery of draught beer is critical. Carbon dioxide has flavor characteristics that could cause your beer to undergo flavor changes if left unmonitored. Additionally, if pressures are left unchecked and become too low in the draught beer delivery system, the CO2 is allowed to leave the beer, causing the pour to be flat. Conversely, too high CO2 pressure results in over-carbonation, causing flavor flaws and a foamy pour. Either problem causes increased product usage and waste, increasing the brewery’s costs and decreasing an already thin profit margin.

Inline CO2 Sensors: Mettler-Toledo, LLC

  Dissolved CO2 sensors are inline sensors that continuously monitor dissolved CO2 in numerous applications, including the beer brewing process. Using dissolved CO2 sensors allows brewers to monitor key quality attributes of their product, ensuring a consistent product and all-important mouthfeel to their craft beers.

  Mettler Toledo offers its InPro5500i inline sensors, thermal conductivity sensors optimized for brewing quality control and monitoring the carbonation levels of the beer. The InPro5500i line uses digital technology to simplify handling, provide durable performance and offer increased product life, reducing lifetime sensor costs.

  Additional benefits and characteristics of Mettler-Toledo’s inline sensors include the following:

•   Helping the brewer maintain consistency and overall beverage quality control

•   Sensors are manufactured with a food grade, hygienic, intelligent design and diagnostics

•   The use of proven technology to accurately provide trusted CO2 measurement

•   Maintenance predictability

•   Process connection compatibility, available with three process connections: Variant Type N, TriClamp 2 inch and 29 mm with cap nut M42

For more information on Mettler-Toledo’s CO2 sensors, visit

Nitrogen Dosing for Shelf Life, Stability and Packaging Excellence: Vacuum Barrier Corporation

  While the applications for nitrogen dosing in the beverage industry have remained consistent, the products that benefit from being dosed have and will continue to grow. Cannabis-based beverages, the dramatic growth and variety of available RTD (ready-to-drink) cocktails and all nitro-style beers, coffees and teas benefit from nitrogen dosing in one way or another. Through its preservation and pressurization qualities, nitrogen dosing has allowed the explosion of new and flavorful RTDs to be distributed on a widespread basis to more markets. Pressurizing a can or PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) bottle with nitrogen adds stability to the container, allowing for easier, more efficient and effective stacking and shipping. Additionally, the fact that nitrogen is inert and will not react with other substances or ingredients makes it ideal for use in beverage applications and industry because it doesn’t impact the aroma or flavor of the packaged liquid.

  “Adding a nitrogen doser to a filling line is a pretty simple process,” said Jim Fallon, international sales manager for Vacuum Barrier Corporation (VBC). “Our VBC dosers are designed to be bolt-on additions to a filler, with no requirement for complicated electrical or control integration. After determining the proper application for dosing, meaning pressurization, inerting or nitrogenating, the next step is to find the optimal location on the filler for installation. VBC application engineers also determine the appropriate dosing unit based on the available filler space, the brewer’s line speeds and the dimensions of the container that the brewer is using. Then, along with the doser, sensors and control panel, all that’s needed to start dosing is your power supply or compressed air supply, depending on the models used.”

  Fallon tells Beverage Master Magazine that the optimal amount of nitrogen dosing recommended for any application is found by looking at the associated needs.

  “In the beverage industry, these applications vary from pressurizing non-carbonated drinks for container rigidity to purging oxygen from the headspace for extended shelf life and nitrogenating a cold brew coffee or beer,” said Fallon. “VBC engineers collect necessary details about the container volume and dimensions, fill heights, line speeds and the brewery’s target specifications and goals. Equipped with that information, we can guide customers to the appropriate settings to ensure the dose is sized properly and, just as importantly, makes it into the container in a timely and consistent manner.”

  Fallon says that for many years, the only new advances in nitrogen dosing had to do with the availability of increased dosing speeds. But today, VBC dosing units can consistently and reliably dose up to 2,000 containers a minute, more than enough for most filling lines. Because of this achievement, VBC was allowed to shift its focus on advancing and improving the reliability and ease of adjustability of its dosers.

  “We’ve continued to build out the functionality of our Servodoser that we initially released in 2016,” said Fallon. “We’ve reduced the parts prone to wear along with maintenance needs of the long-life servo actuator, which has a cycle life into the billions. In addition, a servomotor on the valve stem allows for dose amount adjustment without changing any mechanical parts. These improvements reduce downtime and allow on-the-fly adjustment of dosing parameters. Vacuum Barrier’s modular aseptic dosing systems are quickly becoming the go-to design with OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) fillers integrating aseptic filling lines.”

  For more information on Vacuum Barrier Corporation and nitrogen dosing, visit

Gas Blenders for Draught Beer Delivery Solutions: McDantim, Inc

  To successfully dispense draught beer, you need pressure, and that necessary pressure generally goes unnoticed until something goes wrong. As far back as the early 1800s, that pressure was supplied by compressed air, but as all brewers know, oxygen doesn’t play well with beer. The solution to this dilemma was to use CO2, which was good unless you tried to use 100 percent CO2 in draught beer delivery systems that needed to push the beer over long distances from huge brite tanks that were only safety-rated for up to 15 pounds of pressure. Unfortunately, increasing pressure to push more beer only puts the tank over the intended safety rating or puts the brewer at risk of over-carbonating the beer.

  But by using blended CO2 and nitrogen gas technology in the appropriate amounts, breweries and taprooms can maintain and balance their beer storage and delivery systems to ensure the integrity of their draught beers glass after glass, maintaining product integrity without losing any quality of taste, aroma or mouthfeel, just as the brewer intended. However, premixed cylinders were found to be expensive and generally offered the wrong blend for the beer industry. McDantim Gas Blending Technologies was the first company to introduce a gas blender that was technically sound enough and appropriate for the beer industry. 

  “It started in the late 1980s,” said Kayla Mann, sales and marketing director for McDantim, Inc. “McDantim’s previous owner’s father was approached by Guinness to develop an on-site gas dispenser. Unfortunately, industrial blenders wouldn’t work well because they couldn’t handle low-flow needs. So, McDantim devised a blender optimized for low flow rates to ensure that the beer secured in your keg or brite tank is the same beer dispensed into the glass for your thirsty customers. Our goal is to improve draught beer consistently and continuously worldwide.”

  Mann said that McDantim Trumix® Blenders are generally maintenance-free, with a plug-and-play mentality that demands no electricity or cumbersome maintenance schedules.

  “The goal here is to set it and forget it,” said Mann. “Brewery or taproom managers already have enough on their plate without having to worry about gas blending. Trumix® Blenders are easy to install and set up with regulators and can be nestled in wherever a brewer decides to locate their gas storage. All our products are customizable for different CO2 and nitrogen blending needs, so no matter what beer you are brewing and serving, you’ll get what you need. We use six eager and local breweries as our testing grounds with our products, so we receive real-life and real-time situational help to ensure our blenders and products do what breweries need them to do. Our custom-configured blender solutions improve efficiency and decrease waste and are based on useable volume, including the length of delivery lines, the number of available taps and servers and the forecasted number of kegs per hour you can expect to use at any given time. It comes down to how many servers will be drawing out of how many taps simultaneously. Busy, large taprooms with several servers that stay busy for lengthy amounts of time will need a higher flow rate than the smaller craft breweries.”

  Mann tells Beverage Master Magazine that McDantim also offers a free downloadable app that can be used anywhere within the depths of a brewery because it needs no internet connection.

  “We’re all about education to improve the quality of the draft beer industry across the board,” said Mann. “The app is there for you to know what blend of gases is optimal for the beer you are producing or if you are struggling with pressure or specific lines. We can easily walk you through the app and teach you how it can help and improve your draught beer. It’s just another tool for everyone from the beginner through the seasoned professional, and it is valuable for those that may be hesitant to ask for help as well.”

Conditions included in the calculations are:

•    The beverage temperature in the keg.

•    The required keg pressure.

•    The CO2 content of the beverage.

•    Elevation above sea level.

•    The gas blend (CO2 percentage) of existing blender.

Your input conditions help determine the following:

•     The optimal CO2/N2 blend for your specific location and conditions.

•     What range of pressures you can safely apply to your beverages for optimal carbonation.

•     Easy U.S. and metric unit conversions.

•     The predicted CO2 content that will be maintained under unusual conditions, like high elevation production.

Additionally, McDantim’s free gas blend app includes helpful calculators for other areas of your draught beer process, including these:

•    The cost analysis calculator provides insight into how on-site gas blending with Trumix® blenders can save you money.

•    The gas usage calculator will forecast and determine how many kegs of beer you can expect to dispense using Trumix® Blenders or premixed cylinder gas.

•    The line restriction calculator helps brewers with their draught system design to get the correct restriction values to keep the beer from under or over-carbonation.

  McDantim’s Trumix® Blenders can be used equally well with all clean CO2 and nitrogen sources, including high-pressure cylinders, bulk tanks and separators. 

To contact McDantim or get more information on gas blenders, visit

Inside the Heritage Distilling Company

By: Gerald Dlubala

At six years old, Justin Stiefel, CEO of Heritage Distilling Company (HDC), was watching reruns of MASH with his father and wanted to know what the contraption was that the characters were constantly hanging around and pouring drinks from in their army tent. That contraption was a hand-made still, and among other things, it fueled Stiefel’s interest in chemistry and engineering. His interest culminated in Stiefel submitting a working model of a still for his seventh-grade chemistry class experiment. While he obviously couldn’t partake in any experiments from his submission, his teacher happily accepted the challenge, deeming it a worthy working model and giving Stiefel top grades for his project.

  “That accomplishment felt good,” said Stiefel. “I became interested in chemistry in that process, and since distilling is a chemical process at its basic level, my interest in distilling naturally grew.”

  After adding a degree in chemical engineering, he and his wife Jennifer, president of HDC, founded Heritage Distilling Company in 2011 while sitting around a campfire with whiskey, cigars, good friends and family. The name Heritage came from Stiefel’s belief that no matter who we are, where we are or where we’re from, our story, state or background, we all have a shared heritage as a country and an individual heritage based on our experiences. So the word “heritage” captures all those spirits and everything around us into one customer experience that we provide.

  Later, as he and Jennifer both gained experience working in the U.S. Senate, Justin attended Law School and was ultimately put in charge of negotiating important issues and subsets related to native tribes, including reviewing past policies, academic advancement, job creation, investment issues and more.

  “Subsequently, Jennifer and I  enjoyed visiting the breweries and wineries for the relaxing vibe and experience, but it was never legal at that point to open distilleries until 2009 when the state of Washington legalized the process. It was noticeable from the brewery and winery experiences what benefits were available in agricultural and economic factors using local resources by allowing folks like us to open craft distilleries. Then, in 2011, when we moved back to Washington, where we grew up, Washington voters approved privatizing liquor distribution systems.”

  The Stiefels’ approach to opening a craft distillery is first to consider what consumers want rather than what they prefer to drink.

  “A distiller can’t fall in love with their own products,” said Justin. “If you’re opening a brewery, winery, or distillery because you love your beer, wine or spirits, that can be a recipe for disaster. If you enjoy the product that much, be satisfied with being a consumer and drink the things you like. We use a consumer-led, high-technology approach to every aspect of our distilling process, start to finish. We want to focus on what compels a consumer to choose any particular product because you only get that one shot with a consumer to trigger repeat purchases. No matter our approach, it always started and ended with the product’s taste and flavor profile. Using this approach, we’ve become the most awarded craft distillery for nine years running, per the American Distilling Institute.”

  “We like to say that if it isn’t in the bottle, it doesn’t belong on the shelf,” said Jennifer. “The final products are determined in double-blind taste tests, and our spirits’ taste profiles can take up to two years to reach the point of release. We include natural ingredients and processes, including our grain and mash, and tailor them to the consumer’s needs. We have experienced, trustworthy palettes and pride ourselves on our spirits’ taste, flavors and profiles. We have internal and external protocols for testing, including blind taste tests with unknowing consumers. Those consumers are the final gatekeepers of our products, and they’ll let us know when our product is ready. We import all of our distilling equipment from Italy simply because we’ve found that equipment produces the most amazing flavor profiles for us.”

  Stiefel tells Beverage Master Magazine that the six distilleries and tasting rooms HDC owns throughout Washington and Oregon serve as testing grounds for all products, including their homemade RTDs (Ready to Drink).

  “We get our consumers in the door, have them do a taste trial, and hopefully convert those tastings to purchases or membership program subscriptions,” said Stiefel. “For example, we offered free samples of our newly launched RTDs in our tasting rooms in return for an in-house completion of a 27-part questionnaire regarding their honest thoughts on the products. Our guests took an average of 27 minutes to complete those questionnaires. They provided informative and thoughtful responses and proved they were interested in helping us make product decisions and being part of the consumer journey with us.”

  Stiefel says that HDC has streamlined its processes and protocols for consistency, record keeping, compliance, and general tracking in case of a problem. They can track back to the particular release’s specifics and find the issue’s where, when and why.

  “It’s a personal development journey as well as a consumer journey,” said Steifel. “We have 10 years of experience in consistent production, successful policies and responsible behaviors. And we believe everyone opening a craft distillery is obliged to the industry, striving to provide excellence and total responsibility within this still-young industry.

Tribal Beverage Network: Turnkey Solutions with Individual Branding

  “There are 270 tribal, sovereign nations in the lower 48 states,” said Stiefel. “Because of our record of successful practices and responsible policies in opening craft distilleries, the Chehalis Tribe in Southwest Washington approached us to see if we would help them open a craft brewery and taproom with a new hotel development they had in the works. We explained that we are craft spirits producers, not brewery professionals. Additionally, we explained that, in our informed opinion, the craft brewery market is beginning to downsize, so if they wanted to pursue that market, we recommended that they go with a dual component facility that includes craft spirits.”

  The Chehalis Tribe agreed, and in partnership with HDC, they were on their way to an exciting and extensive 25 million, 36,000-square-foot project when the unthinkable occurred.

  “We were due for groundbreaking in February 2018 and 24 hours away from issuing the contract, complete with equipment on site ready to begin when we were issued a letter halting the project,” said Stiefel. “Citing a 1934 statute from the Andrew Jackson era, the letter stated that a distillery cannot be built on tribal land, and if it were, we would not only be subject to a $1,000 fine (a great amount back then), but the government had the right to destroy all related equipment, including the stills legally.”

  “Fast forward 184 years, and we now see that many tribes own and operate casinos, bingo halls, golf courses, resorts, entertainment venues and arenas,” said Stiefel. “In fact, there are currently 524 tribally owned casinos in the lower 48 states, including some of the biggest properties and wine and beer distributors in their respective cities. They are the largest operators in their respective areas except for some Vegas casinos, but in many cases, tribal casinos are bigger than their Vegas counterparts. So, we felt that this 1934 era statute was no longer applicable and decided to do something about it.”

  In April, the Stiefels introduced a bill to repeal the antiquated statute, and it was passed and signed into law by December of the same year. Their argument was simple and on point. Craft distilling is poised to take off nationally, yet only Indians are not allowed to participate in the benefits, which seems quite racist.

  “It was an extremely proud moment for us,” said Stiefel. “Our project with the Chehalis Tribe, Heritage Distilling at Talking Cedar, opened in 2020. As a result, HDC is working with five more tribes and soon a sixth to open craft distilleries in multiple locations, including Oklahoma, Arizona, Washington, Oregon and Idaho. We’re also involved in talks with tribes across the U.S. in Wisconsin and along the East Coast.”

  Talking Cedar is a destination brewery, distillery, taproom, tasting room and restaurant, and it also serves as the hub of HDC’s Northwest operations. All craft beverages at Talking Cedar are made on the premises by the Chehalis Indian Tribe and Heritage Distilling Company. Here, the HDC’s liquid base is distilled before being transferred to the individual tribal distilleries for final finishing, aging and any maturation necessary to get the final product the tribe deems worthy enough to reflect their heritage.

  “Tribal distilleries sound like a cool venture,” said Stiefel. “But the process is costly, time-consuming and time-sensitive regarding the reports involving the TTB (Alcohol Tax and Trade Bureau). With our franchise-like, autonomous hub and spoke model, we help the tribes set up a small bottling operation with different production levels, aging and maturation levels. By getting the liquid base from Talking Cedar, we accelerate the process of perfecting spirits, putting the necessary, timely information before the TTB and gaining important brand consistency. We also negate the enormous expenditure involved in the engineering process needed to size each distillery’s equipment. It’s similar to how the tribes handle their casino openings, partnering with and using the management operations of larger casino operators for new products, support and marketing. Day one is often good because of the grand opening; we are there from the beginning. But by day two, you better be hustling and educating the consumer. Branding and marketing often get overlooked but can be a huge expense. HDC provides a marketing budget and team to create a halo marketing effort to drive customers to the locations and get products out the door.”

  Through HDC’s cohesive brand advantage, tribes receive pre-opening design and construction assistance, hiring help and applicable compliance and trademark assistance. HDC is there from before opening and along the way to help with product development, new marketing support, trademark research and support and TTB compliance reporting. The entire process is streamlined to get to the ribbon cutting and being ready to go with a full-scale operation, complete with a distinctive, retail-branded location (similar to Starbucks locations nestled in or next to grocers, retail outlets or hotels) and fully constructed tasting rooms, complete with 20 different flavored spirits.

  “Simultaneously, we are working with the tribes on what they want their products to be and signify to the consumer,” said Jennifer. “Each tribe has its own story comprised of its journey and history. When you visit their cultural centers, you see the beautiful and distinctive artwork, stories and historical imagery attached to the different tribes. These are all things that are not only important but need to be ingrained into their brand. You see the word ‘heritage’ used repeatedly, making HDC the perfect anchor partner.”

  “As an experienced partner, we can help limit mistakes that may typically happen throughout the initial distilling journey while also providing the tribes the immediate opportunity to start aging and creating their unique products,” said Jennifer. “The tribes can promote and label their distinctive products while receiving unmatched support from our Heritage brand portfolio. Visitors can expect to be immersed and recognize each tribe’s distinctively branded spirits, including the grains, flavor profiles, and cultural attributes that reflect their heritage, culture and history.”

  Stiefel says craft distilleries are significant earning opportunities for tribes when their revenues from tobacco and fuel are disappearing. Additionally, the current visitor demographic for these casinos is between 50 and 70 years of age. If the casino owners don’t have a plan for complementing and replacing the older demographic, revenues will naturally dwindle to the detriment of the business. Quality craft cocktails are a proven successful way to capture margin and tax revenue while gaining increased and repeat business from the desired 20- to 30-year-old consumer demographic.

  “And the best thing about these tribal spirits is that they can go national when they become popular and resonate with consumers outside the distillery’s four walls,” said Stiefel. “We have a national distribution agreement with the largest U.S. distributor. They are always hungry for these types of unique products. We’d love to see multiple tribal products hit multiple markets across our states, regions and nation. It would truly be a fantastic and monumental day for tribal-produced brands.”

Head to Tribal Beverage Network for more information.

From Publicly Traded Status to Special Whiskey Releases, HDC Barrels Towards the Future

  “With respect to our future, we’re looking at adding and nurturing more tribal partnerships and locations while focusing on our core wholesale products and expanding distribution out of the Northwest,” said Stiefel. “But while all of these other events have been happening, we’ve also been secretly distilling and aging whiskeys of our own over the last ten years and are releasing our line of Stiefel Select line of Ultra-premium single barrel picks, including a four-grain bourbon, a high rye bourbon, wheated bourbon, 100-percent rye whiskey, unmalted, which is very difficult to make, some single malt selections and some 100-percent wheat whiskeys. We didn’t want to be one of those distilleries promising to release something special in the future. We want to announce it when it’s ready to cut the ribbon and be consumed. So we decided that 2022, our 10th anniversary, was a great time to start releasing these in-house produced spirits to select markets in partnerships with retailers or directly to the consumer. Last year was five barrels, with a goal of 100 barrels released this year. They are all single barrel selections, with a few being small-batch, where we take the same barrel from the same distillation day and make a small batch, maybe a three-barrel combination individually numbered.”

  But the biggest news is that Heritage Distilling Holding Company has entered into a business combination transaction with Better World Acquisition Corporation to become a publicly traded company. Heritage Distilling Group will be the corporate name of the newly public company and will be traded on the NASDAQ in the late second quarter under the ticker symbol CASK.

  By the time you read this, the S-4 SEC form will have been filed, detailing an impressive, world-class board of directors that includes many well-recognized names from major corporations.

  “No one in the craft space can claim this type of expertise on their board,” said Stiefel. “I want to say that this board has previously handled over 150 billion in annual revenues and is simply unmatched in expertise and knowledge related to operational expertise, marketing excellence, consumer-based product development, global general counsel experience, extensive mergers and acquisitions experience and tribal economic development.”

Craft Beverage Philanthropy: Brewing with Purpose While Giving Back

By: Alyssa L. Ochs

Of course, the primary goals in the craft beverage industry are to drive a profit, make money and sustainably secure the business. However, an increasing number of breweries and distilleries have become so entrenched in their local communities that it only makes sense to give back to charitable causes when possible.

  Craft beverage philanthropy is on the rise in the U.S., and there are many creative ways in which brewers and distillers can embrace this trend of doing good while drinking well. There are some valuable lessons to learn from beverage businesses that are focusing a portion of their efforts on philanthropy, which are inspiring if you are looking to host a charity event or donate a portion of sale proceeds to raise money for local causes in your community.

How Breweries & Distilleries Can Approach Philanthropy

  Breweries and distilleries can take a variety of approaches to add a charitable element to their operations. The level of community involvement may vary based on the owner’s interests, the size of the craft beverage establishment and the number of staff members available to help with projects outside the realm of making beer and spirits.

  Some craft beverage businesses are skilled at hosting events, partnering with local nonprofits and using social media to get the word out about needs in the community. Other establishments are willing to try profit sharing with partner charities and give direct donations to organizations working in specific fields of interest, such as early childhood education, homelessness or workforce development. A craft beverage producer can also give back to the community through beer or spirit collaborations, supporting local growers by purchasing homegrown ingredients and hosting art shows featuring local artists. Meanwhile, some beverage producers choose to focus on their own internal sustainability practices instead to make their operations eco-friendlier through recycling, water conservation and energy-saving programs.

  Besides just feeling good about what you do and what you brew, there are many benefits to embracing philanthropy in the craft beverage industry. Getting more involved with local causes increases exposure to a business and builds brand awareness. A brewery or distillery can build greater support among like-minded and community-supporting patrons while engaging with customers on a deeper level. Adding a philanthropic element to a business can help create a more community-centered taproom, generate good press to compensate for a past issue and even result in valuable tax benefits at the end of the fiscal year.

Examples of Craft Beverage Philanthropy

  All across the country, you can find excellent examples of how craft beverage businesses engage in philanthropy without sacrificing product quality or putting a compromising strain on their budget. For instance, Ex Novo Brewing, which launched in Portland, Oregon and also has a presence in New Mexico, was the first nonprofit craft brewery in America and has referred to itself as a “permanent fundraiser to support causes.” Charitable causes supported by Ex Novo include Oregon Wild, Friends of the Children, Mercy Corps and Impact NW.

  Deschutes Brewery in Portland, Oregon, teamed up with Dovetail Workwear to support women’s success in pursuing non-traditional occupations.

  The Phoenix Brewing Company in Mansfield, Ohio, has been involved in philanthropy since it opened in 2014 through special beer releases, apparel sales, sponsorships and fundraising events. It has supported summer camps for children with special challenges, a community theater, a winter coat drive, a homelessness initiative and a brain cancer research organization. Phoenix Brewing is unique in that it accepts requests for donations and sponsorships directly through its website and is a non-tipping establishment. If customers leave cash behind as a tip, the brewery donates it to a designated charity each month.

  Pennsylvania’s Tired Hands Brewing Company is another beverage business that streamlines the funding process and outlines its donation guidelines and application protocols on its website to be refreshingly accessible to local charities.

  Service Brewing, started by an army veteran who served in Iraq, is a Savannah, Georgia brewery that has donated a portion of brewery tour profits and promoted charities that include police, fire and first-responder organizations. Over the years, the brewery has raised over $110,000 for local, regional and national groups.

  Franklins, a family-friendly brewery in Hyattsville, Maryland, is dedicated to giving back to its local community and donated over $200,000 through a fundraiser program for local schools, environmental groups and progressive advocacy organizations. It also supports its community by partnering with local farms to source ingredients and the town’s art alliance organization to showcase the work of local artists.

  Finnegans Brewing Company in Minneapolis, Minnesota, has a policy of supporting local food banks and helping food banks work with farmers in the area.

  In Milton, Delaware, Dogfish Head is a large and well-known brewery that launched a Beer & Benevolence program to support over 150 nonprofits annually. Funded organizations include the Delaware Historical Society, Delaware Nature Society and Nature Conservancy.

  To dip a toe into the realm of philanthropy without going overboard right away, breweries and distilleries might consider centering giving around just one special, limited-release beverage.

  For example, an Ashland, Virginia brewery, Center of the Universe Brewing, made a Homefront IPA and donated all proceeds of the beer to a nonprofit that helps military troops and veterans. It often makes the most sense to link a beverage company’s history and the founders’ interests to philanthropic engagement.

  An example is SweetWater Brewing Company in Atlanta, Georgia, which started a long-term, multi-year clean water campaign to improve the local water supply and focuses its giving on environmental groups in the region.

  You might also tap into the intersection of craft beverages and art, like Horse Thief Hollow in Chicago, Illinois, which has partnered with a neighborhood art alliance to turn the business walls into an impromptu art gallery that displays the works of local artists. 

  Another way beverage businesses can boost community involvement is to partner with local sports teams. In Indianapolis, Indiana, craft breweries have created beers that pair with the charitable efforts of local sports teams, including the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts. The local brewery and bistro, Triton, created a Pink Ribbon Saison with pink and white peppercorns to celebrate Women’s History Month and compliment the breast cancer research funding of the city’s professional football team.

Creative Ideas and Looking Ahead

  For breweries and distilleries that have a handle on their essential operations and are ready to take the next step in community involvement, now is a great time to establish partnerships with local charities. Business owners can harness the trendiness and popularity of craft beer to spark awareness about people, animals and natural resources in need of attention.

  Yet there is no shortage of challenges that come with pairing craft beer and spirits with philanthropy. Selling products must always remain the top priority for these businesses to stay operational, and there will always be public scrutiny about which charities they support and transparency with regard to how the money is used. The quality of the beer and spirits produced must come first so that customers keep coming back and supporting the business and the affiliated charities. If the quality declines, craft beer fans may just as well donate to charities on their own without any craft beverage connection.

  There are also challenges with finding staff members who can manage charitable work, getting the word out about philanthropic efforts, establishing donation guidelines and having enough money to go around. However, this is an exciting time to get involved in the world of craft beverage philanthropy because of how prominent beverage producers have become in their local communities and the potential power and influence they hold for rallying community members to enjoy their favorite drinks with a greater purpose.

  As a craft beverage producer, one of the best ways to launch a philanthropic campaign is to learn from the examples of what other breweries and distilleries have done in the past and contact their teams for details, feedback and mentorship. If corporate philanthropy is an interest within your ownership and staff, it may also be worth reaching out to the local community foundation in your area to discuss options for opening up a fund, donating to specific programs or starting an endowment. Most major cities and even broader regions serving multiple counties have well-established community foundations that can offer advice, resources and training about taking a more philanthropic angle as a charitable side venture.

  Despite hard hits from the pandemic, recession and labor crisis, specialized companies are also emerging to connect the business industry to the nonprofit sector. One example is Positive Legacy, a collective group of nonprofit and event industry professionals that created the Pours for Positive campaign to engage craft beverage companies in nonprofit engagement and outreach for mutually beneficial results and a more vibrant and sustainable community. The Brewers Association also provides resources and tips for producers navigating the complex world of philanthropy. Industry-specific recommendations include adding an online donation request form to your website, hosting events that bring a charity into your business and ensuring donations boost taproom sales with silent auctions and gift cards that draw more business to your doorstep.

Beverage Development on a Bootstrap Budget

By: Jorge Olson — Co-founder & CMO of Hempacco and Green Globe International

Starting a beverage business can be a daunting undertaking, especially for the uninitiated. One of the biggest challenges for someone wanting to bring their beverage idea to the market can be budget. The cost of starting and scaling any business can be high, and when one is developing a new consumable product, the costs can be astronomical if they are not privy to the ways of bootstrapping their new business.

  Regardless of the reason one has behind bootstrapping their business, it is a valid way of building any new venture from the ground up. By being savvy with one’s budget and careful to avoid overspending pitfalls, anyone can build a wildly successful beverage business.

Bringing One’s Vision to Life

  Any great beverage company needs to start with an idea. If one wants to build a business around a beverage, the idea needs to be solid, and it needs to be able to be created with consistency, meaning the formula being used should be set before bringing a beverage to the market. Seeking out the opinions and assistance of industry experts can help one avoid costly formulation mistakes. New entrepreneurs should also do their due diligence in researching the market and ensuring their beverage idea has a strong place in the market. While friends and family may all love what an entrepreneur comes up with, that particular product may not translate to a beverage that could find traction with the market at large.

  The formulation stage could lead to out-of-control costs if one is not going in well-researched and prepared. There can be a good amount of information online to help one research the industry, as well as quite a few books and workshops available that can help people with their beginning stages of business building — all for an affordable cost.

Estimating Startup Costs

  Even when one is bootstrapping a business, costs can very often exceed expectations. When diving into initial market research, a new beverage business entrepreneur needs to be realistic about how much it will cost to bring their beverage to the masses.

  To professionally formulate a beverage can cost upwards of $20,000 to $45,000. If one is planning multiple SKUs (stock-keeping units), costs can compound quickly. There are packaging costs, ingredients, shipping, and stocking costs to consider, all of which will add dollars to one’s budget and cut into their profits.

  Bootstrapping this amount requires careful planning and budgeting. Many entrepreneurs have started small and put any money they make back into their businesses. They set up booths at farmer’s markets and sell their beverages piecemeal to raise capital for professional formulation and growing the brand. Though this approach can take time, it is a great way to slowly build a brand without accruing any significant debt.

  Any business, regardless of budget, will often seek out cost-saving measures when it can. Overspending on aspects of the business that do not ultimately move the needle can spell disaster for any startup. Areas where a beverage startup can save include seeking out inexpensive ingredients, packaging options, or distribution avenues.

  Being that costs will rise as the business expands, how does one fund their business if they wish to create a national (or international) beverage brand? Several options are available, from personal loans, investors, and small business loans. Whatever funding options one chooses, entrepreneurs should always weigh all pros and cons to ensure the selected option is the right fit.

Finding the Right Source of Capital

  Any startup is going to need funding, and there are a number of options for receiving this funding. Bootstrapping typically involves forging relationships directly with retailers in order to get your beverage on shelves. This approach can be a slow burn but ultimately successful, depending on how much pavement-pounding you are willing to do on your startup’s behalf. When one doesn’t have the financial resources to fund thousands of dollars of marketing or development costs, that momentum has to be built bit by bit. Those entering the market with a bootstrap mentality must understand that patience is a virtue and that building the brand will take more time.

  Even if one begins with a bootstrap mentality, the fundraising stage may get to a point where one also wants to consider the investor route. However, finding the right investor deal for an idea can also be a long road. Going into pitch meetings with a robust business plan and vision for the future of the product can help entrepreneurs land the best investor partnership for their venture. Any pitch meeting should include samples of your beverage and an idea of how the packaging and the marketing will look.

  One of the best ideas for a small startup is to consider a larger pool of smaller investors instead of putting all of their eggs in the angel investor basket. For example, instead of trying to secure a few million dollars from one investor, work on securing $10,000 in investments from a collection of smaller investors. With those combined investments, one will not only have enough money to get their beverage idea off the ground but will also have a built-in support system from a variety of enthusiastic backers. Smaller investors ride out shifts in the stock market easier than large investment firms and venture capitalists. Individual investors also may request less control over a business than large investors often require.

  Finding the right investor(s) or funding route can make or break a new beverage business. As such, one should consider all options before choosing how they plan to fund their startup.

  With over 2,400 beverage companies operating in the US alone, startups will really need to communicate what makes their product special in order to court solid investment opportunities. Coming at the investor search with passion and an educated approach to the market will increase a startup’s chances of landing dedicated investors in it for the long haul.

The Beverage Industry has Changed

  The pandemic changed many industries, and the beverage industry has not escaped the post-Covid shift towards more direct-to-consumer sales and social media marketing. When the world shut down, beverage entrepreneurs could no longer visit investors or retail partners in person.

  With this in mind, those now seeking to step into the beverage industry with a great idea need to consider how reaching a target market has changed. Anyone looking to break into the somewhat crowded beverage market should work on establishing an online presence right away. Today, word-of-mouth marketing includes chatter online, meaning entrepreneurs could be leaving a lot of money on the table by failing to put effort into their digital marketing presence.

  Any startup should have a website that can be built for a small out-of-pocket cost. The brand’s website is its handshake and introduction to the market and should reflect its feel and personality. Along with a website, the brand’s social media profiles should tie into the entrepreneur’s overall marketing approach. Engaging with one’s target market is a low-cost way to build a buzz around their beverage.

  When building an online presence, one needs to consider what message their beverage and brand are sending. For instance, is the brand being built based on natural ingredients and a sustainable manufacturing approach? If so, its marketing is going to be different from a brand seeking to bring an energy drink to the market.

  Marketing is all about tapping into who the entrepreneur is as a brand, as a business founder, and who their consumers are. Authentic connection with one’s market can go a long way in building a brand, especially when one is not starting with a large amount of capital.

Fight Off Failure

  A staggering 42% of startups fail. With those numbers, it’s a wonder why anyone dives into the murky waters of entrepreneurship. Still, many do and succeed, but not without some hard work and research.

  For instance, many startups fail because they don’t research their target market. They bring a product to the market that no one is interested in or too closely resembles another product. Other startups simply run out of money, which is why it is so important to have patience while one is bootstrapping, thoughtfully invest capital, and seek out partnerships with investors that best align with the product and brand being brought to market.

  Bootstrapping any business starts with believing in a vision, first and foremost. When one is self-funding their startup, the passion for and belief in their product keeps them moving through the most difficult steps of the scaling process.

  The entire concept of bootstrapping is about hard work and perseverance. If market research tells the entrepreneur that their beverage idea is a winner, then it is time for them to roll up their sleeves and get in the trenches. This willingness to get one’s hands dirty sends a message that they are willing to stick with their idea, put in the hard work, and do what it takes to see their beverage hit shelves.

  Starting any business is not for the faint of heart. Bootstrapping a business could be considered insanity by some, given the difficulty of that journey. However, when the business ultimately succeeds and people all over the country — or even the world — are enjoying the beverage you created, all the hard work of bootstrapping will have been worth it.

  Jorge S. Olson is the author of “Build Your Beverage Empire.” He’s a beverage industry mentor and consultant who has launched over 1,000 consumer packaged goods and worked with over 100 beverage entrepreneurs, large and small. Jorge has owned companies in the beverage industry, wholesale distribution, import and export, and beverage development and sales. His over 300,000 newsletter subscribers share his insight into beverages, marketing, and growth. Jorge now mentors beverage executives and lives in San Diego, California.

How to Recession Proof Your Beverage Business

By: Raj Tulshan, founder of

Despite a recent pandemic, record-high inflation, and several years of economic uncertainty, entrepreneurship continues to thrive, with more than 31 million entrepreneurs in the U.S. In fact, Americans’ confidence in small businesses has reached record highs, even exceeding confidence in the military, the medical system, public schools, and the U.S. Supreme Court. But is your business recession-proof?

  Since World War II, the U.S. has experienced 12 recessions, averaging one every six years. Recessions are more common than most people realize, and most people will encounter several over the course of their careers. Therefore, it’s crucial for business owners to prepare to survive the next (inevitable) recession.

  A recession is defined as a significant decline in economic activity – including gross domestic product (GDP), income, employment, industrial production, and wholesale-retail sales – and can last anywhere from two and 18 months. While recessions are common, they can be incredibly stressful for business owners, who will very likely experience some business disruptions. The key to surviving the disruption is to plan, differentiate your business from the competition, cut spending, and create additional revenue streams.

  In addition, here are ten tips to survive – and thrive – during a recession.

1. A downturn doesn’t mean doom and gloom for every business. Nearly 75% of public companies with $50 million or more in annual sales had declining revenue growth during the last four economic downturns, but 14% actually accelerated revenue growth and increased profitability. The different outcomes depended largely on the type of products or services the companies sold and how well (or poorly) they met customers’ needs. Remember that even during economic downturns, customers still buy essentials (e.g., food, utilities, household items, etc.) and need certain services (e.g., healthcare, car repairs, etc.). “Recession-proof” your business, providing what people will continuously need, to maintain sales.

2. Plan for a recession. Ebbs and flows are a normal part of the business cycle, so plan accordingly. Focus on maintaining revenue, preserving cash flow, and generating demand. For instance, running out of cash is a major concern for business owners, so assess your cash balances, expenses, and incoming cash flow. Work within your budget. Track your key performance indicators and adjust if you aren’t meeting target metrics. Pay down debt. Reduce financial waste.

3. Prepare for the unexpected. You’ve likely heard the advice to establish an emergency fund to cover personal expenses, and this is a wise move for businesses, as well. Create an emergency fund that can cover up to six months of essential costs, including payroll, inventory, rent, and utilities. Proactively collect outstanding receivables. Talk to a financial advisor about whether you should consider revolving loans, alternative financing, small business loans, and/or other options.

4. Operate efficiently. Reducing operating expenses can be a challenging task, especially as you must continue providing extraordinary products and services. Whatever expenses you cut should be invisible to customers. Determine where you can make small tweaks that can add up to big reductions, such as leveraging early pay discounts from suppliers, automating manual tasks, and renegotiating supplier contracts.

5. Multiply revenue opportunities. This strategy will require some creative thinking. Brainstorm ways to capture new revenue without making any major investments. For instance, expand your brick-and-mortar retail store’s reach by selling goods online. Adjust your business model. For example, a bakery could start offering take-home kits for birthday parties. Or a bar could sell merchandise and specialized beer onsite and online, in addition to selling drinks and food.

6. Modify offerings. Adjust what you’re selling to make it more attractive to customers and prospects during tough economic times. Think of how restaurants changed their business models during the COVID pandemic to sell to people when they couldn’t dine onsite. To adjust to the changing climate, restaurants started offering more delivery, takeout, and curbside pickup options. And, as more people worked from home, clothing retailers adjusted, offering more loungewear instead of formal suits. During a recession, pivot accordingly. In addition to altering your business model, consider changing your pricing structure and offering more incentives to entice people to buy, even if they have less disposable income during a recession.

7. Strengthen relationships. Acquiring a new customer can cost five times more than retaining an existing customer. Create and maintain strong customer relationships. Understand their changing needs and give them what they want. Offer the “value add” that they can’t get from your competitors, whether that’s free shipping, personal shopping, or a willingness to place special orders on their behalf. At the same time don’t forget your valued vendors, partners and associates. When times get tough those relationships could save the business. Or you could help save someone else’s business. Whether it’s extra time on a delivery due to supply chain issues or just a pep talk, remembering those relationships is essential.

8. Stretch your tech. Most businesses purchase technology to be more efficient and productive but haven’t taken the time to maximize the full benefits of the system or appoint an expert that can fully leverage its benefits. Before you are investing in new systems, stretch your current tech. Tech tools can also help you change distribution methods, such as pivoting from in-person tutoring, which limits you to a specific geographic radius, to online tutoring, which expands your reach.

9. Continue marketing. You may consider cutting marketing to save a few bucks but resist that urge. To maintain revenue, you’ll need to stay in front of your key audiences with social media efforts, online ads, positive news stories, compelling blogs, etc. Launch (or continue) loyalty campaigns to recapture past customers and increase touchpoints with your current customer base. Target your messages to align with customer pain points in an uncomfortable economic climate. Spotlight loyalty programs. Incentivize customers and prospects with discounts, BOGO, and other deals. Maintaining visibility via marketing can help you increase market share, particularly if your competitors pause their efforts.

10. Insulate Finances. Consult financial experts, like those at, to develop a plan to become recession-proof. They’ll help you determine how to cut costs, adjust your business model, and secure any necessary loans. If you need a loan to boost your company’s financial health, they’ll help you calculate how much of a loan you’ll need (and qualify for). Financial experts can advise you on all aspects of the loan, including the application process and what types of information you’ll be required to provide.

Raj Tulshan is the founder and managing member of, a one-stop FinTech business portal that democratizes the loan process by providing corporate sized services and access to entrepreneurs, small and medium sized businesses. Connect with Raj and Team Loan Mantra at 1.855. 700.BLUE (2583) or