Vail Valley Bizwatch: Business consults on craft-beer needs
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Business name: Customized Craft Beer Programs.
Location: Wherever you need us.
Date opened: January.
Owner: Laura Lodge.
Contact information: Call 970-977-0100 or email laura@ customizedcraftbeer programs.com.
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What goods or services do you provide? Consulting for craft beer related programs or events. I specialize in staff training and event planning.
What’s new or exciting at your place? Craft beer is always evolving with new styles and flavors, and pairing food with beer is a fantastic and rewarding adventure!
What strategy do you use to differentiate your business from your competition? My unique experience and networking are what sets me apart from other event planners and food and beverage program consultants.
What philosophy do you follow in dealing with your customers? I believe that programming, training and events should be customized to each individual client. “One size fits all” doesn’t apply.
What can your customers expect from you? Specific focus on their operation and their staff. I believe that everyone should be included to maximize the effectiveness of the program, training or event. I also believe that diversity of product and maximizing exposure to that product are important. Integrating these principals and leveraging opportunity through networking combine to create my unique approach.
Tell us a little about your background, education and experience: My undergraduate and graduate school work were based in computer programming and artificial intelligence, and the strategic approach required for those fields follows through to most everything I’ve done in the Vail Valley. Since I moved here in 1990, I’ve earned my stripes in several different fields, including hospitality, food and beverage, accounting, law, property management, event management and more.
I first was introduced to craft beer by my brother, Bill, who owned a beverage distribution company in Gypsum, High Point Brewing. The creation of the Big Beers, Belgians & Barleywines Festival stemmed from my involvement with High Point, and my affinity for the industry, knowledge and networking all began there.
After more than a decade of running the Big Beers Festival, I was offered the opportunity to create a craft beer program at the Vail Cascade Resort from the ground up. It was an amazing experience, and it inspired me to continue in this line of work going forward.
I also work with the Brewers Association each year at the Great American Beer Festival in the Farm to Table Pavilion and in Washington D.C., for the SAVOR: An American Craft Beer Experience educational salons. On a different note, I’ve written a book based upon my experience in the distribution business called, “Distribution Insight for the Craft Brewer.”
What is the most humorous thing that has happened at your business since you opened? One of the unique programs I have worked on is for the American Diabetes Association. I was working at the Vail Cascade when I got the request for a dessert and craft beer pairing, and was really taken back and alarmed that we might be making anyone feel poorly or have a health crisis due to our event. As it turned out, we had all of the carb and calorie information that the group needed to be able to enjoy the pairings in a very safe way and it was a tremendous success!
There were attendees who hadn’t enjoyed dessert in 20 years, and they were overjoyed with the opportunity — as well as with the adventure of flavors and beer. The group has requested a repeat event in Denver in May, which is very exciting — but I’ll never forget my initial reaction to the request!