We sat down and chatted with Kristin Popcheff, Director of Events & Experience, at Weldwerks Brewing in Greeley, Colorado. Let’s dive into her take on craft beer, what makes it tick and why so many of us are in love with craft beer!
how did your craft beer story begin?
Everyone’s origin story with any industry either begins with drive and focused dedication towards where they want to be or it’s something they fall into. I am of the latter.
After years of bouncing around the country after college, a friend connected me with our co-founders while they were still in the process of building the brewery. They were about 5 months from being open and even though they weren’t actively hiring they knew they would sooner or later need a dedicated hand. I still remember walking into that shell of a building, dodging scraps of construction rubble, and watching wide-eyed as one of them enthusiastically ran around the space showing where the bar would be, where the cooler would go, where the brewhouse would sit. He could see all of it with perfect clarity and after that night, so could I. After that my days of being a nomad were over and nine years later I’m still here.
What does craft beer mean to you?
Craft beer is about building things. The explosion of craft beer some ten plus years ago largely consisted of homebrewers and entrepreneurs wanting to create something that they were passionate about and that carries on still today, even with the industry space being so much more crowded.
It starts as a hands-on craft but it’s everything that is built on that foundation that makes it so special. The best taprooms aren’t just retail spaces, they are community centers with telltale signs that the people who built them had vision and excitement for the experiences that would be built there.
Collaboration is such a big part of our industry because the people within it are authentically enthusiastic about building relationships. Charitable giving is a strong facet in our industry and that’s because people in this sphere are committed to building better communities.
The marketing and voice and culture of every brewery is unique because it’s a new landscape where everyone is building their own identity instead of following a playbook. There is just much room to experiment and build and I think that authenticity is what makes craft beer such an easy thing to gravitate towards.
Who do you consider a mentor in beer and why?
The person who immediately comes to mind is Matt Stevens at Creature Comforts. I was connected with Matt through a mutual industry friend over 4 years ago and in that time I’ve had my eyes opened more times than I can count in how I think about community impact and leadership.
For the majority of my time here I have been responsible for all of our community outreach, charitable giving and employee engagement. Having had no experience with virtually any of that it felt like an immensely daunting undertaking. In that first conversation alone Matt helped me get over that wall by freely sharing his experiences, his gained knowledge, and by providing ample encouragement.
There have been more than a few times since that I’ve felt like I was getting pulled under by seemingly impossible hills to climb and whether it has been a call with Matt or catching one of brilliant seminars, I always walk away feeling like change is possible and that I am capable of making it happen.
Describe your taproom atmosphere at weldwerks
On the surface ours is a lot like any other taproom in Colorado – laid back, family friendly, fun. But what makes it unique is the tangible culture within. Not just the guest experience that we intentionally strive to create but the familial and inviting culture that our team has built in every department that can’t help but bleed through.
Our energy and enthusiasm is organically catching and the taproom team’s upbeat and friendly attitudes are an extension of what we have built here as a company. As a guest, you just can’t help but smile when you walk away and I think that is because that’s how we all feel by working together each day.
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Imagery provided by WeldWerks Brewing