LOCALpittsburgh article!

Rob Johnson Becomes New VP of Sales and Marketing for Rivertowne

By Jeremy Hopper - April 4, 2018

With about 20 years of experience in the beer industry, Rob Johnson is the new Vice President of Sales and Marketing of Rivertowne Brewery. Rivertowne, one of the very first craft brewers in Pittsburgh, has restaurants in Verona, North Huntingdon, and the North Shore, as well as a Pourhouse in Monroeville. While the brewery is already a city favorite, Rob Johnson looks forward towards many years of continued success.

Have you been in the industry long?

I have been in the beer industry in one facet or another for nearly 20 years now.  My experience started on the retail side of things. I put myself through school behind a bar and worked part-time as the homebrewing contact at Country Wines years ago.

Tell us about what you did prior to joining the Rivertowne team?

I was fortunate enough to win some amateur homebrewing awards and receive the opportunity to study professional brewing under Bryan Pearson at the Church Brew Worksfrom 2000 – 2003, roughly.  The wind blew me in a different direction and I found myself managing the FOH at Sonoma Grille for a bit in 2005.  It was at that point that I realized my true love was beer and I began positioning myself to pursue a career in the beer industry.

In Spring of 2006, a dear friend of mine from Big Burrito, Denita Breneman, recommended Galli Distributing to give me a call to discuss the possibilities.  A gentleman by the name of Bob Gera who now works for Fat Heads Brewery had previously started building a nice craft portfolio at Galli Distributing.  The stage was set for me to join Galli Distributing as their Craft / Import Specialist.  It was during this time that I assisted Galli Distributing with bolstering their craft portfolio and sales.

In Summer of 2009, my good friends, Mark Burford and Pete Cotter, contacted me with their interest in acting on a proposal that I had forwarded them nearly 2 years before shortly after I brought their brand to Pittsburgh.  They were interested in expanding Blue Point Brewing’s reach southward and offered me a position as their Southeast Sales Manager.  During this time, I relocated my family to Clearwater, FL and rolled out 13 wholesalers in North Carolina, 21 wholesalers in Florida, and hired sales representatives to assist my efforts in both states.  By Spring of 2011, Mark and Pete wanted me to relocate to Patchogue, Long Island to become their National Sales Manager and head our expansion efforts moving forward.

Come Spring of 2014, Blue Point Brewing sold to Anheuser-Busch Inbev and I slid over to Oskar Blues Brewery to become their Northeast Sales Manager.  We had already been in discussion about another position about 6 months before this time.  My time spent at OB was fast and furious as I took on larger roles, continued to help expand the brand, and ultimately integrate the Cigar City Brewing sales team with OB’s sales team in Fall 2017 as the Eastern Divisional Manager before becoming the Sales Operations Manager for a short time.

As fun as the time was spent at OB, it made me realize that I longed to be working with a smaller brewery again.  I was interested in and motivated to have more influence and impact over the direction of a smaller, growing brewery.  Enter Christian Fyke.  Christian and I had known each other for about 16 years and had been working together during my time at Galli Distributing, Blue Point Brewing, and Oskar Blues.  An inquiry uncovered that Rivertowne Brewing and myself both had an interest and need that could be filled.  After a few meetings, we decided to put the plan in action and I accepted the role of Vice President of Sales & Marketing for Rivertowne Brewing.

 

I believe you have been at with Rivertowne less than a year, what are your thoughts so far?

It’s been an exhilarating 7 months at Rivertowne Brewing.  We have been able to put our plan in place, execute, and turnaround updated branding and new brands to introduce to our fans across PA, OH, WV, and NC in a mere 6 months.  It has been a true team effort with each person knowing and owning their role to make it happen in half the time that it might take on a routine basis.  We have a lot of good people at Rivertowne.

What are your duties for this job?

As the VPSM I am responsible for leading our efforts across branding, marketing, portfolio composition, sales management, wholesaler management, business planning, and ultimately increasing overall profitability.  But it doesn’t stop there.  If we come across a situation with which I have previous experience, I am always happy to provide input.

Rivertowne was one of the earliest local craft brewers in Pittsburgh, what’s next?

It’s onward and upward for Rivertowne Brewing.  These recent changes are merely the beginning as we will continue to search for angles and execution which benefit the greater good of our company.  A constant state of evolution is necessary in any business sector in order to stay competitive while also being light on your feet.  For starters, we will begin offering some brewery exclusive 16 oz packages.  It’s always a benefit to get people to your brewery firsthand to discover what you are all about.  I find that they are frequently surprised.

It seems new breweries are popping up daily, is there an industry bubble?

I suppose that there is a proverbial bubble.  I would also guess that the effects of oversaturation are specific to each market given their differences.  It was predicted a few years back that the “hyper-local” model of building a smaller brewery and selling a limited package to go would be a more sustainable model in the short term than the previous model of building a relatively larger brewery and placing your beer on many store shelves across various states.  I think that we are seeing that strategy in motion across the U.S.  I’m simply happy that there is more fresh beer to drink than ever before.  Differently sized breweries can find success in the same space.  It’s really about capitalizing on what you are built for and letting the chips fall where they may.

 

Brewer Magazine

Case Study: Branding, Portfolio Refresh for Rivertowne
By Jon Sicotte on March 26, 2018

Breweries that have grown to a certain size and model are looking for ways to to adapt and find some middle ground to compete in a market where small batches and sales in a taproom have become key for smaller breweries.

Meanwhile, a brewery like Rivertowne Brewing which opened in 2007 and is expected to produce 10,000 barrels in 2018, is looking to align with a market concept it started with and continues to grow.

“We have some beers planned which will be limited to sales from our tasting room, but we are still inspired to compete and have a larger presence,” explained Rob Johnson the VP of Sales & Marketing for Rivertowne. “It’s what we were built for, and frankly, we feel that we have a responsibility as the largest volume producing brewery in Pittsburgh to lead by example and provide inspiration to smaller breweries who might have similar aspirations.”

Starting on April 2, the brewery will debut its brand refresh along with a new stock of beers focused on today’s consumer, including a whole new line of IPAs.

RivertownIPAs-800x.jpg

“Branding refreshes are routine processes for many breweries and companies in other fields,” Johnson said. “Wylie the fish served us well for the first 10 years of our existence, but it became evident that it was time for a change.”

The direction of the new branding really came from a question Johnson said that the company asked themselves.

“What activities do we enjoy in our spare time? Swimming, kayaking, camping, fishing, and sipping suds on our boats are the activities that came to mind,” he explained. “These activities led us in the direction of river recreation for our updated branding as we feel that these are activities enjoyed by many folks who reside in river communities here in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and across many other states.”

The new direction is designed to focus on the longtime company mantra of “My Rivertowne” and capture the essence of river communities throughout the country where leisurely outdoor activities take center stage. In the new brand direction, Wylie’s image has been replaced with graphics designed by local artist Gian Romagnoli that emphasize outdoor recreation.

Johnson noted that the brewery had a “glaring hole” in the IPA category with Old Wylie’s IPA being a hybrid of a American and English IPA.

“The beer felt dated and lacked the pop and familiar flavors of a modern American IPA,” Johnson said.

So the brewery is releasing Jump!, a Mosaic IPA along with a hop-forward Pale Ale, Float Trip.

The addition of Hazy Morning, a NEIPA, and Class V, a Double IPA rounds out the quartet and gives the brewery a chance to add a new package with a ‘Dock Party IPA Mix Pack’ to shelves as well.

“IPA drinkers like variety, so we wanted to offer these drinkers a 12-pack with three cans of each of these unique IPAs,” Johnson said.

The brewery worked at drying up most of the old imagery merchandise and packaging the best that they could, but some remains.

“There will be many folks who would like to get their hands on merch with the previous imagery as keepsakes,” Johnson pointed out. “We will have a lot of 12 pack cartons to recycle from the previous branding.”

Go to Brewer Magazine Article

Some Love From Brewbound!

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PITTSBURGH, Pa. – Rivertowne Brewing, an independent craft brewery located just outside Pittsburgh in neighboring Murrysville/Export, has officially launched updated branding. This new initiative represents a top-to-bottom overhaul of Rivertowne’s logos, packaging, online presence, and product portfolio. The new direction is designed to focus on the longtime company mantra of “My Rivertowne” and capture the essence of river communities throughout the country where leisurely outdoor activities take center stage.

“The direction for the new branding really came about with a question we asked ourselves: ‘What do we like to do in our spare time,’” said Rob Johnson, VP of Sales & Marketing at Rivertowne Brewing. “Swimming, kayaking, fishing, tubing, camping, and drinking some suds in the afternoon on our boats were the activities that came to mind. These are activities we feel are enjoyed in all river communities across the state of Pennsylvania and beyond.”

Rivertowne began brewing in 2007 at their Pourhouse location in Monroeville. They’ve expanded into a full production facility in Export and feature several unique, popular beers including Hala Kahiki Pineapple Ale, Mosaic IPA, Grateful White Belgian Witbier, Maxwell’s Scottish Ale, to mention a few. Since 2002 when CEO Christian Fyke took ownership of the Rivertowne Inn in Verona, the brand has been associated with the lovable sh mascot Wylie. In the new brand direction, Wylie’s image has been replaced with graphics designed by local artist Gian Romagnoli that emphasize outdoor recreation.

In addition to Hala Kahiki, Grateful White, and EZ Lager, there will be five additional brands rounding out Rivertowne’s year-round core portfolio focus:

Jump! IPA – 6.1% ABV, 80 IBU – American IPA with flavor complexity ranging from berries, mangos, tropical and stone fruits to grass and resin. In life, there are jumpers and observers. This beer was created for the jumpers.

Float Trip IPA – 5.2% ABV, 30 IBU – Hop-forward pale ale with a big tropical bouquet and taste, a pleasing mouthfeel, and well-balanced bitter finish that begs you to take another drink. Appealing to a wide variety including “non-IPA” drinkers.

Class V IPA – 8.2% ABV, 60 IBU – American Double IPA. Class V is the classification for the most dif cult rapids that a kayaker or rafter would come across. This beer overflows with citrus, pine, and resiny hop flavors which could knock you around if you’re not careful.

Hazy Morning IPA – 6.7% ABV, 36 IBU – New England-style IPA with an assertive grapefruit aroma and fresh, green hop flavors that snap your palate to attention and leave you wanting more.

Dock Party IPA Mix Pack – This party pack of IPAs includes all four of the aforementioned IPAs and equips you to receive guaranteed invites to all of your friends’ upcoming parties. Like your crew, each of these four IPAs have unique personalities. There are three cans of each IPA included in this pack which provides you with plenty to spread around and share.

“We are really excited to introduce these new brands and packaging to everyone,” Johnson stated. “Rivertowne has always brewed great beer. We expect the new branding will have people reaching for our cans to reinvestigate and discover this to be true.”

New 6-pack and 12-pack cans will hit shelves across Rivertowne’s distribution footprint in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, West Virginia, and North Carolina in April. New beers will be on draft at Rivertowne’s ve locations in Monroeville, North Huntingdon, Verona, Pittsburgh’s North Shore, and the brewery tasting room in Export beginning this March.

Six seasonally released brands, including the highly-regarded Suburban Housewife Blackberry Cucumber Kolsch, as well as six Lab Rat Specialty releases, will also be released throughout the year in much more limited supply than previous years.

About

Rivertowne Brewing is dedicated to producing exceptional, approachable craft beer. Our team of passionate, innovative brewers work tirelessly to create unique recipes with high-quality ingredients and hold each beer to the highest of standards, ensuring the final product in your glass is something you’ll enjoy and come back to. Our sustainable packaging allows you to enjoy your favorites at home, the ballpark, or making your way down a peaceful river. At Rivertowne, we emphasize the entire craft beer experience and value the devotion our fans have to our product.

Check out the article!  

New Branding - Press Release

PITTSBURGH, PA – March 5, 2018 Rivertowne Brewing, an independent craft brewery located just outside Pittsburgh in
neighboring Murrysville/Export, has officially launched updated branding. This new initiative represents a top-to-bottom overhaul of Rivertowne’s logos, packaging, online presence, and product portfolio. The new direction is designed to focus on the longtime company mantra of “My Rivertowne” and capture the essence of river communities throughout the country where leisurely outdoor activities take center stage.
“The direction for the new branding really came about with a question we asked ourselves: ‘What do we like to do in our spare time,’” said Rob Johnson, VP of Sales & Marketing at Rivertowne Brewing. “Swimming, kayaking, fishing, tubing, camping, and drinking some suds in the afternoon on our boats were the activities that came to mind. These are activities we feel are enjoyed in all river communities across the state of Pennsylvania and beyond.”
Rivertowne began brewing in 2007 at their Pourhouse location in Monroeville. They’ve expanded into a full production facility in Export and feature several unique, popular beers including Hala Kahiki Pineapple Ale, Mosaic IPA, Grateful White Belgian Witbier, Maxwell’s Scottish Ale, to mention a few. Since 2002 when CEO Christian Fyke took ownership of the Rivertowne Inn in Verona, the brand has been associated with the lovable fish mascot Wylie. In the new brand direction, Wylie’s image has been replaced with graphics designed by local artist Gian Romagnoli that emphasize outdoor recreation.
In addition to Hala Kahiki, Grateful White, and EZ Lager, there will be five additional brands rounding out Rivertowne’s year-round core portfolio focus:
Jump! IPA – 6.1% ABV, 80 IBU - American IPA with flavor complexity ranging from berries, mangos, tropical and stone fruits to grass and resin. In life, there are jumpers and observers. This beer was created for the jumpers.
Float Trip IPA – 5.2% ABV, 30 IBU - Hop-forward pale ale with a big tropical bouquet and taste, a pleasing mouthfeel, and
well-balanced bitter finish that begs you to take another drink. Appealing to a wide variety including “non-IPA” drinkers.
Class V IPA – 8.2% ABV, 60 IBU - American Double IPA. Class V is the classification for the most difficult rapids that a kayaker
or rafter would come across. This beer overflows with citrus, pine, and resiny hop flavors which could knock you around if you’re not careful.
Hazy Morning IPA – 6.7% ABV, 36 IBU - New England-style IPA with an assertive grapefruit aroma and fresh, green hop flavors that snap your palate to attention and leave you wanting more.
Dock Party IPA Mix Pack – This party pack of IPAs includes all four of the aforementioned IPAs and equips you to receive
guaranteed invites to all of your friends’ upcoming parties. Like your crew, each of these four IPAs have unique personalities.
There are three cans of each IPA included in this pack which provides you with plenty to spread around and share.
“We are really excited to introduce these new brands and packaging to everyone,” Johnson stated. “Rivertowne has always brewed great beer. We expect the new branding will have people reaching for our cans to reinvestigate and discover this to be true.”
New 6-pack and 12-pack cans will hit shelves across Rivertowne’s distribution footprint in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, West Virginia, and North Carolina in April. New beers will be on draft at Rivertowne’s five locations in Monroeville, North Huntingdon, Verona, Pittsburgh’s North Shore, and the brewery tasting room in Export beginning this March.
Six seasonally released brands, including the highly-regarded Suburban Housewife Blackberry Cucumber Kolsch, as well as six Lab Rat Specialty releases, will also be released throughout the year in much more limited supply than previous years.
Rivertowne Brewing is dedicated to producing exceptional, approachable craft beer. Our team of passionate, innovative brewers work tirelessly to create unique recipes with high-quality ingredients and hold each beer to the highest of standards, ensuring the final product in your glass is something you’ll enjoy and come back to. Our sustainable packaging allows you to enjoy your favorites at home, the ballpark, or making your way down a peaceful river. At Rivertowne, we emphasize the entire craft beer experience and value the devotion our fans have to our product.
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Rivertowne Brewing Introduces Updated Branding – New Logo, Imagery, and Packaging Rolling Out in March and April of 2018.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Rob Johnson
rob.johnson@myrivertowne.com
412-304-2471