A Seat at the Craft Table

A Seat at the Craft Table: Meet the new executive director of the Asheville Brewers Alliance
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Karis Roberts, ABA Executive Director

For the average beer drinker, the Asheville Brewers Alliance (ABA) is most commonly associated with Asheville Beer Week. But for those within the industry, it has been a vital resource for networking, problem solving, and building a professional community since 2009. Vital during the COVID-19 pandemic, the ABA helped to guide breweries through reopening procedures, transitions to take-out services, and various state restrictions under the guidance of Executive Director Leah Rainis. Following her departure, the board has appointed Karis Roberts to the position. Roberts, who works at Wedge Brewing Company, hopes to bring fresh energy and vision to the ABA. 

What exactly is the Asheville Brewers Alliance?
The Brewer’s Alliance is a membership group of individuals and organizations throughout Asheville and the surrounding areas. We hold educational events, seminars, discussions, and in-person socials, and we are trying to create a cohesiveness within the beverage industry. We also have members that aren’t in the brewing industry—plumbers and lawyers and other professionals that have like-minded values with the ABA and our mission statement of making sure that there is community and cohesiveness as we try to excel together. 

How did you get involved with the ABA?
My partner owns Devil’s Food Beverage, which is also an ABA member, and I work at Wedge Brewery. My boss thought I’d be a good fit [for the position]. I come from an education background, so I’ve managed classrooms full of children and adults.While the brewing industry was something that was new to me, this seemed like a great opportunity to mix my expertise in managing people and brewery relations. 

What are your goals for the ABA going forward?
I’m looking forward to meeting all of our members, making sure that they are happy and engaged in the community with us. I want to understand what they value in being a member of the ABA and make sure that they feel supported. For the last year, we haven’t had an executive director, so I want to be someone that they can call on. For example, I had a member who was talking about having exploding cans, and he didn’t understand why it was happening and they just needed help. I want to be the person that can find that resource and get that problem addressed immediately. There are a lot of beer festivals and competitions coming up, and we want to make sure that all of our members have the correct information on those deadlines and submissions so that they can get the recognition for the tasty beverages that they are working so hard to create.