By Maria Pearman
For the Oregon Beer Growler
Sometimes in life you get to marry your passions with a brilliant business idea. Aaron Grieser has achieved that through a combination of luck and hard work. Fueled by a passion for travel and business, Aaron co-founded Beervana in 2012. He globetrots, finds unique craft beer and delivers them to high end markets in Southeast Asia. The company distributes in Thailand and is on track to enter its second market – Indonesia – later this year.
The road to Beervana began when Aaron was in college. While at Tufts University as an undergrad Aaron would bring Oregon beers to the East Coast and later to Germany through the Fulbright Program. After college he worked in Thailand with the government on an environmental policy project. When that work concluded, he returned to Eugene and earned a law degree at University of Oregon. His time in Asia stayed close to his heart, however, and Aaron traveled back to Bangkok to work in the renewable energy field, and it was there that the idea for Beervana came to him.
Exporting U.S. craft beer to a market thirsty for the product seemed like a no-brainer. With a business model sketched out, Aaron hit the road in 2011 to visit 56 breweries along the West Coast with the hope of finding beers to export. From British Columbia to San Diego, brewers questioned his ability to ensure the integrity of the beer after it had traveled halfway around the world. Cold chain, which means that the beer stays refrigerated from pick up to delivery, is important to almost all of Beervana’s suppliers. It’s difficult and expensive to manage, but would be critical for a successful supply chain. The road trip left him in a position where he had to pause and regroup, and to revise the business model.
As the company fleshed out the logistics, they also realized the complexities of international compliance. Working through layers of licenses, tariffs and nuances of international business was a steep learning curve. But eventually the supply chain, distribution points, pricing model and process came together.
Today Beervana stands out by offering a fully cold chain delivery and the timing couldn’t have been better. The company was one of the first craft beer suppliers in Southeast Asia and today faces about 15 competitors in the area. Initially, Beervana was known for the West Coast beers they brought to market. To innovate and stay competitive, the business is importing from the Southeastern U.S., Japan, New Zealand and Norway. As the consumer’s palate changes in SE Asia there is considerable room for growth in distribution, and the company is considering moving into Vietnam and Singapore next year. Aaron has spent his whole life sharing beer, and Beervana is a natural extension. Thanks to the work of international distributors, our brewers in Oregon have a chance to shine in global markets.
Maria Pearman, CPA, is the owner of Radix Accounting, an integrated accounting firm in Portland that focuses on craft beverages.