Jeff Agase, a Certified Cicerone with 12 years in the beer business, was named today as the new head of Tenth & Blake, Molson Coors’ U.S. craft beer arm that houses the breweries AC Golden, Atwater, Hop Valley, Leinenkugel’s, Terrapin, Revolver and Blue Moon’s RiNO brewery in Denver.
Agase, a Harvard Law School graduate who has spent the last five years heading the distributor network development team and building deep relationships with Molson Coors Beverage Co.’s wholesaler network, also helped orchestrate the majority of the company’s craft brewery acquisitions. He will take over effective June 1.
“I’m honored, humbled, energized, privileged and ready for the challenge,” Agase says. “The portfolio of brands and breweries we’ve assembled has tremendous potential, and my job is to bring them the best of what Molson Coors can offer while preserving the unique and compelling culture of each brewery.”
Agase, 40, will take over the role vacated by Paul Verdu, who led Tenth & Blake for more than four years before departing in April. He’ll report to Pete Marino, Molson Coors’ president of emerging growth.
“I have worked with Jeff for years and have always admired his energy, curiosity and passion for our business,” Marino says. “He’s not only tremendously smart and committed, but he also loves the craft beer community. I am thrilled to partner with him to keep growing Tenth & Blake.”
Agase joined the company in 2010 as a corporate attorney, where he provided legal support for mergers and acquisitions and handled corporate, antitrust, governance, tax and finance matters. He was the primary internal counsel on the acquisitions of craft partners Revolver, Hop Valley, Terrapin, Saint Archer and Crispin.
In 2017, he was elevated to vice president of distributor network development, where he leads a team that oversees the company’s relationships with its wholesaler partners.
Both experiences, he says, prepared him to take on the role leading Tenth & Blake, where his charge is to “shine a bright light” on and provide resources necessary to the division’s craft breweries, both internally at Molson Coors and among distributors and retailers, in order to give each the best chance to capitalize in the marketplace.
At the same time, he says, it’s critical to allow each brewery’s leadership to run their businesses independently so they’re able to preserve the cultures that make them unique and innovative.
“Throughout my career, I’ve been motivated and compelled to go above and beyond to make peoples’ lives easier and to answer questions before they’re asked,” Agase says. “A big part of my goal is to help open doors for our craft partners by helping them get the most out of their association with Molson Coors.”
The Tenth & Blake portfolio is a key focus for Molson Coors, in large part because it’s filled with high-margin, above-premium beers that fit within the company’s ambitions as part of its revitalization plan.
“This portfolio has a tremendous amount of upside opportunity coming up,” Agase says. “Craft production is back again with the return of the on-premise. Equally important, because we’re part of the Molson Coors sales and distributor network, we have an outsized opportunity to thrive in the off-premise.”
The long-term goal, he says, is to ensure Tenth & Blake’s breweries outpace the overall craft beer segment, a part of the beer business in which he’s long had an interest.
“I distinctly remember my first Belgian Trappist beer, and it was unlike anything I had ever had before and different from anything I expected beer to be,” Agase says. “That was a couple years before I joined what was then MillerCoors, and it was the beginning of a long and fulfilling journey into the art and craft of beer. Once I have an interest in something, it becomes all-enveloping to me, and I dive deep into it.”
At Tenth & Blake, he expects nothing different.