Shiner Beer’s Eddie Miller Reflects on What it Takes to Succeed in Beer Now
Modernize. That’s the name of the game today. Just ask Eddie Miller, a former Origlio Beverage employee who is now a District Manager for Gambrinus – producer of the revered beer, Shiner Bock. “We’ve been making [Shiner Bock] since 1913, so we’ve had 100 years to perfect it,” Miller says. But that doesn’t mean he or the company plan to rest on their laurels. “We’ve got some exciting stuff coming in 2023.”
Miller took some time out of his busy day to discuss his take on Shiner Bock’s lasting legacy, what it’s like to work on both the wholesaler & supplier sides of the industry and to share the exciting ways Gambrinus plans to grow in today’s ever-changing business environment.
Heady Times (HT): What was your first experience with a legacy beer?
Eddie Miller (EM): Coincidentally, it was Shiner Bock! I started working at Origlio when I was 22 and still in college, so I didn’t have much exposure to a beer like this before. About two weeks into my time with Origlio, they launched the Shiner brand, and it was a big deal. I remember trying White Wing, a Belgian wit, and realizing there must be a ton of exciting beer options out there that I hadn’t tried – and I was right.
HT: I’m glad you mentioned your time at Origlio. Having worked on both the wholesale and supplier sides of the biz, what was that transition like for you?
EM: It was easy. I went from working for Origlio to having them as my largest wholesaler. Having already built many relationships with Origlio employees, I started my career at Shiner with a much higher comfort level than a normal new hire. Even today I maintain those friendships, as there are still a lot of familiar faces at Origlio who were there when I started with Shiner in 2015.
HT: Shiner’s flagship Bock has a legacy that runs deep. Why does this beer have such staying power?
EM: That’s easy – consistency! Shiner Bock is a brand that most consumers would refer to as an “old faithful.” It was first brewed in 1913, so we had 100 years to perfect it before bringing it to PA in 2013.
HT: How about your seasonals? Which ones would you say are the standouts?
EM: Shiner has a stellar lineup of seasonals! Ruby Redbird, our low-calorie grapefruit and ginger lager, is always a huge summertime hit in the Philadelphia area. And retailers usually start asking about Holiday Cheer (our peach and pecan dunkelweizen that’s released every winter) as soon as our Oktoberfest (which is also very popular) gets released.
HT: What’s the key to growing the Shiner business in 2023? What can we get excited about?
EM: We all know cans are a rapidly growing part of the beverage industry, so having that option in-store for customers will go a long way. Although Shiner has been around since 1909, we continue to modernize the Bock brand. We strive to keep things fresh and exciting. For example, next year we’ll have rotating graphics on our Bock 12-packs, including throwback looks, a Toast Our Troops theme for the summer and camouflage in the fall.
HT: Tell us more! What else is in the works?
EM: Peach Wheat, our traditional wheat beer brewed with freshly picked peaches, is coming back in bottles and cans! This beer has been mostly a draught release over the years, but when we sold it in a package in 2021, consumer feedback was tremendous – they loved it! In 2022, it returned to a draught-only release, so getting it back in a package in 2023 is something retailers and consumers can get excited about. It’s a perfect beer for the summer.
HT: Finally, we live in a special area for craft beer, but what’s your favorite part about selling beer in our region?
EM: I love our independent retailers. As we all know, Pennsylvania is still a mostly independent-driven market and each store has its own personality, which keeps the day very interesting! Working with these stores always keeps you on your toes, as each requires a slightly different game plan to gain a new placement or sell in a display. But at the end of the day, the sense of fulfillment is even greater because of the work you put in.