Meet the Team: Sam Harris
Today we are joined by Sam Harris, co-founder of A Local Beer. Having worked in a number of tech companies and big businesses he brings that start-up, entrepreneurial spirit to the team. Co-founder Nick likes to call him 'Big Ham Sam' until Sam says “Don't call me that.” He is so much more than the man who deals with the beer production and design though and is a huge driving force behind A Local Beer’s success. We sat down with him and asked him a few questions.
G’Day Sam Thanks for joining us. What is your role within A Local Beer?
No worries Hugo. I look after a couple of main areas across the business.
Mainly production coordination; understanding what we need to brew, when we need to brew and what we need to make that all happen to ensure delicious beer can continue to get out to our amazing network of venues and retailers. My second role falls under digital and design, which definitely lean more towards my creative side - so that's looking after our packaging design, core brand branding elements and also stuff like the website.
Both very important areas. I dare say the production is a bit more important because if we don’t have beer we are in trouble! Now do you have any nicknames within the company? I know Nick likes to call you Big Ham Sam. What’s that about?
Haha No Comment. I'll tell you when we can be back sharing a beer together!
Haha fair enough. When did you start getting into craft beer and was there a particular beer that helped ‘convert you’?
My journey into beer was embarrassingly late. I don’t necessarily pinpoint it to an exact moment but I think it was the sheer amount of flack I received for my consumption of Somersby cider that forced me to change my ways....
Rightly so I reckon.
Yeah yeah. During this time I began to move out of the poor university life and not just base my alcoholic choice off dollar spent per standard drink. I began to actually discover that beer didn’t actually have to taste horrific and it meant the sudden realisation that there was this amazing world of craft beer to explore. Like most, I started off with your Stone & Wood Pacific Ales, Little Creatures Pale Ale and the likes; easy drinking and really approachable.
I think there are a few others out there with those ‘gateway’ beers mate. A Local Beer has come a long way in its first two years, what do you think has been the biggest achievement of the company?
You simply can’t go past our first commercial batch landing and being successful.
There were so many unknowns starting off and brewing that first batch and everything was a bit of a guess but for it to come together better than expected was an amazing sense of achievement for the whole group (and also a bit of relief). There was an incredible amount of hours researching, designing, reaching out to vendors and really just trying to blindly understand how to build a business. We celebrated together at that launch 18 months ago without really appreciating that it was really just the starter's gun to a much bigger race.
Very true! You have previously worked at a number of other large businesses and startups. What lessons have you learnt from those organisations?
Speed and agility is everything. You’re much better off as a business and team to create action and not get stuck in analysis paralysis. It’s sometimes daunting to make a decision knowing that there’s a lot at stake but trust yourself, trust the people around you, make it happen and most of the time you'll find that it will pay off or you'll have learnt a hell of a lot that will make you better in the future.
There’s no way you can scope everything so direct your energy to get something out into the public that you can receive feedback on, iterate and improve on otherwise you’ll quickly get left behind.
What advice would you have for others looking to get into the industry?
Don’t spend too much time thinking about it - get straight into it as it's an amazing community to be a part of! I can't recommend enough to look to surround yourself with an amazing team that has a diverse skill set. Running a beer brand requires wearing a lot of different hats and unless you’re the next Elon Musk there’s simply no way one individual could do everything. Plus it’s even better to share in both the highs and the lows of the journey with people around you.
Couldn't agree more. What are you drinking at the moment?
After a big winter lockdown of quite heavy, rich and intense darker beers with more buzz words than you could shake a stick at, I’ve very much come out the other side enjoying more approachable and sessionable beers. Sailors Graves Draught and Edge Brewing's Yuzu Rice Larger have been a couple of recent favourites.
And a few Local Beers as well of course!
Of course. And our traditional final question. Who was your childhood celebrity crush?
Super niche, but I don't know if you've ever seen the Goonies? It was one of the few DVDs I had when I was super young growing up and there was a character called Andrea who I was definitely a bit obsessed with.
Haha currently the most obscure choice but that's what we like about you Sam. Thanks for your time.