Steve Bradt is a former member of the Brewers Association Board of Directors, serving for several terms dating back to 2005.
What’s your current position at your brewery?
I am head brewer at Free State Brewing Co. in Lawrence, Kansas.
What’s new at Free State and what’s next on the horizon?
Free State continues to grow and adapt to the same changes and challenges that I see reflected throughout our industry from my BA board of directors service. We recently commissioned our first centrifuge and are having fun working with some really talented people on refreshing our brand’s look this year. We still see lots of opportunities in our four-state footprint and we’re looking forward to offering more new and exciting flavors to our friends in the market. Having been around for 27 years now, growing from a busy pub to adding regional package distribution has been quite a trip. We are continually evolving as brewers and as a company to keep relevant in a fast-paced market, so what’s on the horizon may be the most exciting thing yet!
How long have you served on the BA board of directors?
I have served since the original board that formed after the merger of the AOB and the BAA formed the organization we have now [in 2005]. I dropped out for a couple of years to plan and execute the opening of our production and packaging brewery, but I was really excited to return after the dust settled here.
What’s it like to serve on the board?
Exhilarating! I have learned so much from the opportunity to serve and grow with some of the leaders and pioneers in the craft beer world, both on the board and on the BA staff. Seeing the progress that we’ve made from those tenuous early days of the BA to the position we occupy now as one of the key, influential voices in the world of beverage alcohol has been an amazing journey. I think the world of the people I’ve served with. Sometimes the discussion and the decision-making process gets long, involved, and complicated, but in the end, I think we’ve made some pretty good choices in the best interests of our members. It has also been really fascinating to watch how each new chair has grown with, risen to, and accepted the challenges that have been presented during their terms. We have truly been gifted with some amazing talent in our leadership.
What challenges and satisfactions have you met during your board service?
I think that is well-reflected in a recent review of our foundational documents. As one of only two current board members who served during the merger, Rob Tod asked me to encapsulate the original intent and trace the changes in our purpose, mission, core values, and beliefs. It gave me an opportunity to reflect on how those documents developed, why we thought they were important then, why we still believe they are relevant, and just how little they have really changed. We have been remarkably focused on some key goals for this organization and I think we’ve been incredibly successful at hitting our targets. I feel that we owe a debt of gratitude to Kim Jordan for making all of us focus on getting those things right at the very beginning so we weren’t changing direction every time the winds shifted.
What do you like to do in your time away from the brewery and the BA board?
My wife and I have a couple of great teenage boys who keep us pretty busy. I like spending time outdoors, especially when it involves two wheels, whether powered by me or by a motor. Occasional woodworking projects help to fill in the time during the winter months. I’m active in a local organization that provides health care services for the uninsured, and I announce weekly outdoor concerts seasonally for our City Band, a local tradition for more than 150 years. Otherwise, it’s always great when I get a chance to hang with friends and family, wherever it may be.