The art of choosing which beer to sell has become a highly competitive, data-driven process, and the tastemaking “beer buyers” with the job are often regarded as celebrity gatekeepers who can make or break upstart breweries.
In bringing attention to little-known brewers from across the globe and reigniting passion for nearly forgotten styles like Gose and Lambic, the three Shelton brothers also established a company that changed the face of beer and brewing—but not without controversy.
How Barrelworks, Firestone Walker’s sour and wild beer program, got its unlikely start from an under-the-radar side project by two brewing professionals who had previously dedicated their careers to eradicating beer-spoiling bacteria.
An immediate hit, the New England-style IPA Codename: Superfan quickly became the taproom’s top seller. In the following months, the Colorado brewery stopped canning its previous flagships, a West Coast-style Red IPA and a Double IPA.