Now that the holiday hoopla is over, we’re getting back out on the road for our all-important quality control visits. While we’ve long thought that we have the best job ever – we get paid to go to bars – a chance meeting at our Cedarville pub has us wondering if that’s true.
The Cedarville BBC typically has a “nice bar” going in the afternoon. “Nice bar” to us old-timers in the pub biz means a good crowd with a few familiar faces and/or friendly folks who are up for a chat. A recent Tuesday afternoon was no exception. Megan was on the bar, and nearly every stool was taken as we grabbed the last couple of open spots.
Before we’d even managed to fully land our butts in barstools, the two people next to us extended warm greetings. Said friendly chat ensued.
While it looked like Ryan Casey and Brianna Smith were simply enjoying a relaxing lunch and a couple of brews, they were, in fact, on the job.
Whoa. There are other people whose job description includes bar time? World. Rocked.
Turns out, they’re in the beer biz. Or, in Ryan’s case, the beer and booze biz.
Ryan is a craft beer sales rep for L. Knife & Son, the Kingston-based distributor of Budweiser and a few hundred – maybe thousand – other exquisite elixirs. In addition to handling Anheuser-Busch products, Ryan also works with the company’s high-end craft beer and spirits portfolios.
Brianna is a rep for Brooklyn Brewery, a craft brewery owned by “a couple of dudes,” as Brianna put it, which is, oddly enough, located in Brooklyn. She tools around Massachusetts, her car filled with samples, checking in on the roughly 4,500 pubs, restaurants and package stores in the state that stock the brewery’s wares.
Yes, both Ryan and Brianna’s job is to sell their products, but they don’t do it in some creepy, pushy salesperson kind of way. They hang. They get to know the people at each of their stops. They don’t rush, and they don’t do a hard sell.
Why can’t other salespeople embrace the soft sell, right?
We bought our new best friends a round and yapped for a half hour or so.
Ryan is a “big time” beer fan who hails from Dorchester. After getting his degree in economics, he was working in a restaurant when a friend of a friend – or friend of a brother or something, sometimes we drink a little – hooked him up with a gig at the Sam Adams Brewery in Boston. He moved over to L. Knife four-plus years ago, where he’s steadily moved up the ranks.
Brianna also has a restaurant background.
“I was bartending,” Brianna said of the time after she graduated from UMASS Boston, “and a supplier rep came in and she just loved her job. I started looking specifically for a supplier rep job (working for a brewery rather than a distributor). When the listing for Brooklyn Brewery came out, I jumped on it.”
It must be a good fit, because Brianna is still there more than two years later.
“I was hired the day David Bowie died,” she said when asked how she could recall her start date so quickly.
In the course of one relaxed pint we talked about Bowie, Jim Jones (Brianna referenced “drink the Kool-Aid”) and Doug Jones (Brianna got her Joneses confused), politics, the #MeToo movement, and great restaurants in Boston. The latter topic came about as a result of one of our group looking for suggestions for an upcoming trip to the big city.
Not only do Brianna and Ryan know their beer, and seemingly every bartender in southeastern Massachusetts and beyond, they really know the Boston restaurant scene.
Thanks for the recommendations. It was great meeting you!