Innovation is the key to progress says industry pioneer

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Genuine innovation across the whole business is the key to a strong and vibrant brewing industry attendees at the SEA Brew conference have been told.

Delivering the opening keynote presentation at the conference in Bangkok, industry pioneer Charlie Papazian said that innovation is what drove the industry and will continue to ensure its strength. He said craft brewing was always about dealing with “situation and circumstance”.

“I’ve been involved for over 50 years in the beer and brewing world and I have seen many challenges and a lot of that adversity with people trying to do the impossible,” he said.

“And yet, thousands of people all over the world have succeeded in bringing craft beer and craft brewing to beer drinkers.”

Papazian said that when he started, homebrewing was still illegal in the US.

“No one understood what craft beer was and yet we were making these beers that were very interesting and the world was not really ready.

“But that circumstance inspired a revolution.”

Papazian said innovation and ‘not just copying’ was an important part of the success of craft brewers all over the world.

“It’s not just about copying something, copying someone else’s idea and making a beer.

“A beer drinkers view of your beer and your company is the catalyst, is the reason, is the activation for your success,” he said.

“What will they perceive about what you do?”

Papazian said while it’s easy to copy someone else’s success, each time a business copies another they’re watering down an idea.

“You’re not making as strong a statement and you’re not going to be as successful as that first person,” he said.

“How do you want to be perceived as a brewery and brewer and when people drink your beer and have that can or bottle of beer in front of them, what do you want them to think about?”

Papazian said the early challenges facing craft beer inspired the potential for the industry to change people’s attitudes to beer.

“You’re not just making beer, you’re making quality. You are influencing and changing people’s attitudes about food, beverage and lifestyle choices,” he explained.

“And that’s a never-ending challenge.

“This generation is where it’s at right now. And you might succeed in changing some of their ideas about food and beverage.

“But 10 years from now, and 20 years from now, you will have to be doing the same thing as each new generation of people who will be making choices about food and beverage.”

He stressed that innovation wasn’t just about beer styles and the beer that are made, it’s about all aspects of the business.

“It is about doing, actually doing things, and they’re going to be things in situations that are going to confront you that are trying to prevent your success.

‘That’s is when you begin innovating.”

SEA Brew, South East Asia’s largest brewing conference and tradeshow, is currently running in Bangkok, and has more than 600 attendees from across the region.

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