Latest Hop Culture News
Dec 8, 2020
Hop Culture The company that owns the Untappd beer check-in and digital drink-menu app; the BeerAdvocate ratings site; and the online direct-to-consumer (DTC) sales platform Oznr has acquired Hop Culture , the beer-centric digital media platform behind popular events like Juicy Brews and Beer With(out) Beards. North Carolina-based Next Glass, which develops software and social activities related to beverage alcohol, announced the acquisition Tuesday. Hop Culture founder and CEO Kenny Gould says the partnership will help Next Glass develop a suite of business tools — a “cohesive ecosystem,” if you will — to streamline experiences for consumers and provide operational efficiencies for businesses in the beverage alcohol space, from producers to wholesalers to retailers. “Breweries (and other alcohol producers) operating a lot of different systems have to rely on disparate tools, and you start to see why that’s a problem when you look at scale,” says Gould, who’ll continue to lead Hop Culture and direct design and editorial strategy as creative director for Next Glass. “Going forward, they’ll have one company and endless integration for a seamless backend experience.” Gould says Hop Culture’s robust journalistic content will maintain its editorial independence and all staff will keep their remote jobs. What Next Glass gets from its purchase is someone to oversee branding for both internal and client needs, along with a ready-to-go team that already connects to the beer community and demonstrates proven success in event production, reporting and writing, and merchandise sales. Why Did Next Glass Buy Hop Culture Now … In 2020? Seven-year-old Next Glass has grown tremendously this year, from buying Hop Culture, Oznr and some of BeerAdvocate’s assets, to replacing its CEO, taking in investment from Providence Strategic Growth, and hiring its first consort of executives and managers. MORE FOR YOU Just as Gould gets excited talking about his newfound ability to draw on a far greater pool of resources than his four-year-old beer-magazine startup ever allowed, Next Glass CEO Trace Smith says the deal with Providence, which went through in March, gives his business the resources to do more in the future, including boosting its presence in Europe; recover from COVID losses; and launch initiatives to help the hospitality industry much sooner. “We certainly hope this is a temporary speed bump, and we understand that the economic conditions might be soft coming out of it,” Smith tells the Greater Wilmington Business Journal. “But that additional capital will help us regrow more quickly post-COVID-19 and will help us bring more (furloughed) team members back.” Gould says Providence, which has invested in Hulu and Topgolf, among others, has kept a hands-off approach to Next Glass. This inspires his confidence that he and his co-workers — both present-day and those Next Glass is sure to hire as it builds out its capabilities — will be trusted to trust their instincts and experience. A beer industry professional pours a glass at a Hop Culture event. Hop Culture How Did the Partnership Between Next Glass and Hop Culture Happen? For his part, the 30-year-old Gould’s instincts haven’t led him astray. The Pittsburgh son and grandson of entrepreneurs started the Hop Culture website in 2017 as a way to highlight positive stories in the craft beer world. As Gould, who also works as a freelance writer and Forbes contributor , says, “I never set out to start a business. I set out to write about beer.” But if the Duke University English graduate wanted to keep things casual, he might have been too good for his own good. Hop Culture rapidly cultivated a following, became the fastest-growing beer site on the internet and sold out its first Juicy Brews beer festival in less than ten seconds. After what Gould describes as “four years of grinding every single day,” and “jumping and swimming as fast as I can,” he started looking around for an investor or buyer when he interviewed Smith for a Forbes story this past summer. He came away thinking, “I’m pretty sure that’s the smartest person I’ve ever talked to.” Gould approached Smith with a proposal, and once they determined they share similar values and vision, they joined forces. “I got a bullseye on the first try,” Gould says. He declined to disclose the terms of the agreement. Hop Culture founder and CEO Kenny Gould enjoys one of his events. Hop Culture What Will Hop Culture Do Now That It’s Part of Next Glass? Gould notes that Next Glass supports Hop Culture’s sustained efforts to make the beer industry more inclusive. After having produced the world’s biggest beer festival created to showcase women, raising money for the Beer Kulture non-profit that focuses on the Black craft beer drinker, and offering a paid internship for BIPOC writing students, Hop Culture plans to next leverage that support to expand Beer With(out) Beards and start a queer beer fest. Already, Next Glass boasts largest network of beer drinkers in the world, according to Gould, who is, from the corporate position he’s held since last Monday, ready to bring his team’s talent to a larger stage. And to think, says Gould, Hop Culture started as a “glorified blog. I was doing it because it was fun.” Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn . Check out my website .