Alan Newman Interview: Part 2

The Brewery:  What is next just beer we can expect down the line from The Just Beer Project?

Alan: We’re working on a summer seasonal.  We’re like 60 to 75% there.  We’re still doing revisions on it to get it exactly the way we want it.  You want to take a guess what the name’s going to be?

The Brewery: Umm… Just Summer Seasonal?

Alan: You know! A genius!  You’re a marketing genius, we should hire you!  You’re correct.  It’s fun to have something that’s just simple and the customers have really embraced it as well.  I love the fact that this was one of my stupid ideas, I really wondered “Alan is this one your stupid ideas that is going to work, or not?”  What we’re seeing is that people love the simplicity of it.  They love the ease of ordering.  And they just love the liquid.  It’s really been fun.

The Brewery:  The Just Beer Product symbol reminds me of the story of The Emperor’s New Clothes, was that the intention?

Alan:  It has a bunch of iterations.  I like to think of him more as the Emperor who is leading a parade back to sanity in beer.  Art is in the eye of the beholder.  What he represents is “simplicity”.  So whether you see him as the Emperor who has no clothes or whether you see him as the Emperor leading a parade back to the world of simpler drinkable beers, he’s delivering the message “we’re not overthinking it, it’s a great tasting beer.”  And that’s really what we hope people take from it.

The Brewery: Tap, bottle, can or woman’s high-heel, what is your favorite way to drink a beer, and why?

Alan:  I like glass.  I almost never drink beer out of a bottle.  As I said earlier, I’m an aroma guy.  I like the aroma when it comes out the large mouth of a pint glass.  I will always pour beer into a glass.  Always is always incorrect by the way.  What I should have said is “most always”.  If I’m at a festival, or out on a boat I’ll drink beer out of a can.  My preference is to pour it into a glass first.  Whether it starts in a bottle or starts in a can, I don’t know that I could tell you the difference quite frankly.  If you blind tasted me, same beer, bottle, can, I don’t think that I could tell you which was which.  So to me, the method is about the occasion.  If I’m in some place where glass is not an issue, then glass is fine.  If I’m someplace where glass is an issue, then if it’s in a can, I’m fine.

The Brewery:  We have to know, who came up with the sayings on the Magic Hat bottle caps?

Alan:  I never know.  One of the marks of the businesses I’ve built over the years, they all are very similar in one area.  I truly believe that I am not one of the smartest people on the planet.  But I know a good idea when I hear it.  Throughout my career what I have tried to do is put together teams of smart people and create an environment where they are comfortable enough to throw out ideas.  And then my job is to go “Oh, yes, that one!”  I know that this was done really early on when we were working with our original design company.  I can’t tell you who’s idea it was it came out of the creative brainstorm that goes into the building of a brand.  Once the idea came up it was like “duh, this is a great idea.”  I couldn’t tell you whose idea it was though.  It certainly became part of the culture of the Magic Hat brand.  To this day whenever I open a beer, I look at the cap.  If there’s nothing under it I feel cheated a little bit.  For years, the number of Magic Hat bottles I opened was in the thousands, and I always, ALWAYS looked to see which cap I got.  Now, I feel a little bit lonely.  But, I don’t know whose idea it was.

The Brewery:  Can we expect any sayings under the caps of Just Beer bottles?

Alan:  Under our caps for Just IPA we have “Great Beer for All”.  I think under the cap is a fun space.

The Brewery:  Finally, after 20 years in the business, tell us, what was the beer that inspired it all?

Alan: I started off my misspent youth as a PBR guy, before it was popular.  I’m old by the way, in case you didn’t know that.  I grew up in the days of the large regionals, Knickerbocker, Rheingold they were huge in my day.  Ballantine was probably one of my all-time favorites.  Those beers mostly disappeared in the 70’s, but they were still around in the 60’s when I started drinking beer.  I grew up on the beers of the time.  Probably Ballantine was my favorite of that grouping.  But I certainly drank my share of PBR.

Firstly, we want to thank Alan and his team for their time in setting this interview up.  But more importantly, are you thirsty for a Just IPA?  Well, the wait is over, as of September 1st the Just IPA has been released in 12 oz. bottles to all of New Jersey.  Be sure to keep an eye out for Just IPA, and keep up to date with The Just Beer Project through twitter, Facebook, and even their Just Win It contest at: www.justbeerproject.com/winit

Cheers!