Sixpoint Brewery has hired Trillium’s head brewer away from Boston to lead its newly established product development team, the company confirmed Tuesday. Assuming the role of chief product officer, Eric Bachli is set to spearhead the New York brewery’s initiative of “taking innovation, R&D, and Mad Science to the next level.”
The move is the culmination of company plans to refocus on that aspect of the business, according to founder Shane Welch, who added Bachli’s professional background in both the beer (having worked at Trillium and a number of other breweries) and science (having worked at Pfizer) industries made him an ideal candidate for the job.
“We decided about a year ago we wanted to make product development kind of a pillar of what we are and who we are as a team,” Welch tells GBH. “And Eric was just a great cultural fit.”
With the hire, new and innovative products are on the horizon, but Welch added the establishment of the product development team as a whole, comprised also of Welch and vice president of brewing quality Horace Cunningham, is about more than just beer.
“It’s going to extend beyond just the formulations,” he says.
To that end, as detailed on the popular beer subreddit, where Sixpoint is a regular and quite outspoken contributor, the company says it also has a “big announcement” forthcoming in which it will detail a “completely different approach to how we service our great customers with a first-of-its-kind sales interface.” Welch declined to provide additional detail about this when asked by GBH, but said a statement could be expected in 3-4 weeks.
Welch did say, however, that Bachli—who helped scale Trillium after its sizable expansion from Boston to a nearby suburb—will similarly “oversee developments at the [Sixpoint] facility in Brooklyn.”
The relationship between Sixpoint and Bachli, however, extends back further than Bachli’s time at Trillium. Welch says the company has known Bachli since he left Pfizer—where he was a scientist, according to his LinkedIn profile—to work at the popular retail chain, Craft Beer Cellar.
“They were one of our biggest early adopters and places that really supported us,” Welch says.
From Craft Beer Cellar, Bachli then moved around New England’s beer industry, working at Barleycorn’s Craft Brew, Blue Hills Brewery, Jack’s Abby, and Craft Brew Alliance. Welch says he reached out to Bachli after learning he’d ultimately ended up at Trillium to talk about Sixpoint’s future. From that conversation, he learned Bachli, too, was thinking about his own future.
“I found out he was the head brewer at Trillium and he was really getting involved in the beer industry,” Welch says. “We reached out to him, and where he was in his life, he was like, ‘I’m looking where I’m at, I’m thinking about my next move, and this seems like a perfect thing.’”
Adds Bachli in a statement: “The imagination and creativity from Sixpoint has been a major influence and reminds me why I got into the beer industry in the first place. I got a good look at that imagination, and knew I had to be a part of it.”
Before he starts, though, Welch says Bachli will be taking some time off to go hiking with his wife in South America.
As for Trillium, co-founder Esther Tetreault tells GBH there are no immediate plans to replace Bachli, but adds that it’s a “testament to Eric’s leadership alongside our Director of Brewing Operations, Zach Page, that the team is executing every day.”
“Eric helped us build a solid team and maximize production over the last two years in Canton,” she adds. “We’re actively working on [an] expansion that will change our organization a bit so we’re doing longer term planning for our staff.”
On that note, Trillium is in the midst of another expansion, as it is currently building out a new 15,000 square foot restaurant and brewery in Boston.
Sixpoint, the nation’s 43rd largest craft brewery by volume, is expecting to produce upwards of 90,000 barrels this year, up from about 73,000 last year, according to Welch. Bachli is slated to officially start in November.