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Q&A: Odell’s Brendan McGivney and Eric “Smitty” Smith

At times, Odell Brewing in Fort Collins, Colorado, has flirted with becoming a major national player. These days, McGivney as COO and Smitty as CEO are looking instead to dig deeper locally, appealing to a broader base of drinkers in their regional market.

Jamie Bogner Jun 23, 2022 - 16 min read

Q&A: Odell’s Brendan McGivney and Eric “Smitty” Smith Primary Image

Photo: Courtesy Odell

CBB // Let’s start by talking about how the pandemic and what has happened in the beer world over the past two years has affected how you view the business, your stomach for risk, and how that’s changed some of the ways that you are moving forward.

BM // We were draft-only from 1989 to 1996. We built our business on draft, and that paced-growth approach is part of our evergreen vision. We want to make sure we’re doing it right. It’s important to us to stay independent and employee-owned. We can do that with paced growth. That’s profitable, obviously, and takes people into account first. But we were all-draft, growing slowly, and then the craft industry exploded. We held off going to the East Coast and being a national brand. I mean, the focus back then for the founders, Doug and Wynne [Odell] and Corkie [Doug’s sister], was to be a strong Rocky Mountain regional brewery. There were no aspirations to be a national brand.

To answer your question directly, COVID reinforced that that is the way for us. That is our future. Colorado is something we can control. Our existing markets are something that we have more impact, more leverage over than going into new markets and spreading wide and thin.

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