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Jan 22, 2018
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Posts Tagged ‘Dan Kopman’

The Scoop: Schlafly co-founder Dan Kopman to step down

Thursday, December 15th, 2016



This New Year’s Eve, raise a pint to Schlafly co-founder Dan Kopman, who will step down from his position as board co-chairman of The Saint Louis Brewery and Schlafly Beer on Dec. 31. Kopman and Tom Schlafly founded the brewery in 1991 and have since turned it into an institution.

Kopman and Schlafly sold a majority share to Sage Capital in 2012. At the time of the sale, Kopman agreed to stay on for five years. Now, as the agreement reaches its sunset, he announced that he will leave the venerable brewery to pursue other interests. He declined to give specifics on his future plans.

With sales totaling $20 million, Kopman has much to be proud of, but said his greatest joy has been working with a talented group of people and having a positive effect on downtown and Maplewood.

“I’m most proud of the people that have worked for us and continue to work with us,” Kopman said. “We’re lucky to have changed the beer culture and improve the neighborhoods around the Bottleworks and Tap Room.

While he said it was impossible to choose his favorite Schlafly brew, Kopman did single out and praise Schlafly’s current leadership. “There’s a good team in place there,” he said. “Tom is the chairman of the board, and James Pendegraft is doing a great job as CEO, and of course Stephen Hale is a great ambassador.”

Kopman also expressed gratitude to the customers and patrons who have enjoyed Schlafly’s hospitality over the years. All in all, he said, “It was a blast.”


Photo by Carmen Troesser

Related Content
• Guide to Beer 2015: Schlafly By the Numbers
• The Scoop: Schlafly announces James Pendegraft as new CEO
• Guide to Beer 2016
The Scoop: Schlafly brewmaster heads to Brew Hub


The Scoop: Schlafly announces James Pendegraft as new CEO

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015


Editor’s note: This article was updated at 3:15 p.m. Feb. 18 to include comments from Dan Kopman.

Schlafly Beer has a new chief executive officer. The company announced in a statement yesterday, Feb. 17, that James Pendegraft is joining the brewery as CEO.

“After 23 years of continuous growth and establishing Schlafly as a leader in the craft movement, the time is right for an addition to our leadership team in order to fulfill our potential of being the leading craft brewer in the Midwest,” said the company statement.

The change in leadership will posit co-founder Dan Kopman as co-chairman of the board, while he continues to focus on innovation, relationships with partners and consumers, and the brewery’s participation in industry trade associations. Keith Moszczenski will continue as the brewery’s COO and CFO.

Kopman met Pendegraft at a Beer Institute meeting a few years ago when he was head of sales and marketing for North American Breweries, which distributes Labatt, Magic Hat and Genesee beers. When Pendegraft moved back to St. Louis, Kopman set out to recruit him to the Schlafly team. “He has a skill set and an experience that’s different than my experience,” Kopman said. “We can fight through and learn them on our own, or in this case, bring someone into the organization that already has a lot of that experience.”

Hiring Pendegraft continues Schlafly’s ownership succession plan, which the founders crafted a few years ago to ensure the brewery’s future.“While we have continued to grow in our existing trade area, our focus since 2012 has been to build on our ownership succession … and to put in place a senior management team with great talent and experience and a group of young, passionate and talented staff in all areas of the brewery. When I look at where we are today, I am really excited.”

Among the “young, passionate and talented staff” is Schlafly’s quality assurance manager, Emily Parker, 28, a member of the Sauce Ones to Watch Class of 2015.

As co-chair, Kopman said he will be able to return to what he loves. “I will focus on where I started: on the beer side of business,” he said. “I get to spend a lot more time with our younger brewing team.”

The announcement of Schlafly’s new CEO comes weeks after news that James “Otto” Ottolini, Schlafly’s brewmaster and longtime employee was leaving Schlafly to become chief of brewing operations for Chesterfield-based turnkey brewer Brew Hub.






The Scoop: Schlafly brewmaster heads to Brew Hub

Thursday, January 8th, 2015



Change is in the air at Schlafly. Brewmaster and longtime employee Jim “Otto” Ottolini has accepted a new position as chief of brewing operations for Brew Hub, as reported by Lisa Brown of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Ottolini said his last day at Schlafly is Jan. 16.

Brew Hub announced plans to open its second partner brewery in Chesterfield in September 2014, after opening its first location in Florida that same month. In addition to moving its corporate headquarters to Chesterfield, founder Tim Schoen explained that Brew Hub would partner with breweries from around the country to brew, bottle, package and distribute their products in a remote facility.

In his new position, Ottolini said he would oversee construction of the large brewery and then brewing processes for all the partners when production begins in early 2016. “In a very broad sense, I’m going to try to make sure the whole kit and caboodle moves along well and efficiently and can make the beer it needs to make,” he said.

Ottolini said Brew Hub, which plans to open five such facilities across the country, appealed to him as a company focused on the future of craft brewing in the U.S. “Knowing the folks that started Brew Hub – they’re local; they were at (Anheuser-Busch) – we’ve known each other, and I really admire their business model,” he said. With thousands of new breweries popping up in the last few years, he explained, brewers are looking to expand without building new facilities in other parts of the country. Brew Hub is “building the ability to meet the market demand,” he said.

Schlafly co-founder Dan Kopman said Ottolini was instrumental to the brewery’s growth during the last 22 years, often devising solutions to tricky problems at a time when few suppliers carried equipment for small operations. Before serving as brewmaster, Ottolini had been Schlafly’s director of brewing operations since 2003.

“Where Otto really excels is to see a problem in a small brewery and come up with a solution that wasn’t necessarily off the shelf,” Kopman said. “He’s been a fixture for 22-plus years … I’d say its sudden news, but for various reasons, it did make sense for both him and for Brew Hub … It’s a great opportunity for him, and we wish him very well.”

Ottolini said his decision to leave was a difficult one. “I can’t imagine a more appropriate setting to use the term ‘bittersweet,’” he said. “It’s a family. It’s been my honor and privilege to work there. My hat is off to Tom Schlafly and I’m forever grateful to him for taking a risk and sinking his money into a company that a lot of smart people said probably wouldn’t make it.”

Kopman said there were no plans to replace Ottolini at this time. Instead, he said he wants to focus on empowering Schlafly’s team of young brewers as the brewery prepares for its own eventual expansion in the next few years. “There is definitely a youth movement at Schlafly Beer,” he said.



Meatless Mondays: Falafel Sandwich at Schlafly Tap Room

Monday, January 9th, 2012

010912_falafelWe know what you’re thinking – another vegetarian column, really? Just give us a minute. Meatless Mondays is a movement that’s building across the country, one built not around a hatred of meat or a stance against the way animals are treated but rather a love for vegetables – and the health benefits that come along with them. While the Meatless Monday concept hasn’t quite picked up in St. Louis yet, we’re here to show you just how easily it could. From meat-free recipes to make at home to dishes around town that let the veggies truly shine – welcome to Meatless Mondays, a new weekly online column.

The falafel sandwich at the Schlafly Tap Room is something to write about. It beats the falafel I’ve eaten throughout Israel (Tossing french fries into my pita doesn’t make it better in my book.), and it may even beat the falafel I ate in Le Marais in Paris. OK, maybe it doesn’t trump the mouthwatering Parisian version (I mean, I did go there two times in one day for crying out loud.), but the fact that I’m even comparing the two shows that the Tap Room’s version is seriously good eats. (Let’s solve this debate once and for all: Sauce Magazine, fly me to France and I’ll report back who wins?)

In my days of going to the Tap Room, I used to try a different dish each time. I was always satisfied with the results, but then I realized: A large part of the Tap Room being such a time-tested institution in St. Louis is that the dishes are institutions as well. Maybe it’s my growing up, being less fickle and knowing what I want, but I ditched the whole seize-the-day/try-something-new way of life and stuck with what’s good: the falafel, which is as much of a fixture on the menu as the burger is, in my book at least.

The falafel is prepared street-style – swaddled in foil, slathered with tatziki and given a little crunch with some fresh onions and tomatoes. On the side comes harissa – a thick traditional Tunisian chili sauce that’s a bit too spicy for me. Go ahead and get it even if you can’t handle the spice, as it’s likely someone you’re dining with will want to dunk his fries into it. In place of the harissa, I ask for the green peppercorn sauce on the side, which provides a perfect cold, peppery bite that combines well with my piping hot falafel. (The harissa will give you the same effect; just have your beer nearby to offer a little salvation.) Pair it with the vinegar slaw, and life is good.

After 20 years in the biz, the Schlafly Tap Room has it down – a laid-back atmosphere, friendly servers, time-tested food and real St. Louis beer. It’s a community that makes you feel at home – so at home, in fact, that co-founder Dan Kopman came by our table to see how our meal was the last time I stopped in. Next time you stop in, try the falafel with a Schlafly Kölsch, and enjoy some truly world-class eats. Best of all, you don’t have to shell out the big bucks to fly across the pond to eat it. Unless, that is, Sauce Magazine is paying for your trip, too!

The Scoop: The next 20 years at Schlafly: Majority ownership by Sage Capital, eyes for a new brewery – and a farm

Thursday, January 5th, 2012

062110_SchlaflyThe St. Louis Brewery, which most St. Louisans simply refer to as Schlafly Beer, is adding names to its ownership roster. Yesterday, the company announced that it had signed a purchase agreement to transfer 60-percent ownership of the business to a local investor group led by Wes Jones and John Lemkemeier, co-founders of St. Louis-based private equity firm Sage Capital, as reported by Evan Benn of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

The deal, which will be completed once licenses and permits have been issued by government agencies, will posit the 13-person investor group as majority shareholders. However, that doesn’t mean co-founders Tom Schlafly and Dan Kopman will be saying farewell to the company they founded 20 years ago. Both Schlafly and Kopman will retain an interest in the company, with Schlafly initially retaining 20-percent ownership and Kopman at least 10 percent. Schlafly will serve as chairman of the board while also working to promote the Schlafly brand, while Kopman will remain in his role as CEO and also serve on the new board. In addition, 10 percent of the business will be available for purchase by eligible employees. (In the April 2011 issue of Sauce, Schlafly discussed reasons for wanting to make shares available to employees: “The employees who have been here a long time are the ones who have made the business what it is and who understand our mission, whatever that is. If I want to see that continued, I would trust their vision, rather than some outsider who had never heard of the brewery before.”)

While changes to day-to-day operations at Schlafly are not anticipated, The Scoop did discuss down-the-road operations with Kopman, particularly regarding his (paraphrased) comments published yesterday in an article by The St. Louis Business Journal, that “the Sage investment will give the business deeper pockets in the event the brewery needs to expand and build another production facility.”

When and where will the next Schlafly brewery be? “There is no timetable for building another brewery. That the site would produce beer for the next 20 years … a lot of thought that goes into that. The more time we take, the better that decision would be informed,” said Kopman, who estimated that the company would need somewhere in the realm of 40 acres for a new facility. Kopman also noted that he was “intrigued with growing vegetables. A brewery with a farm with it; we are very interested in the urban farming movement. Although there is no plan – I could see a future farm and brewery, but I have no idea what that looks like.”

As for a location, “We’d take the same approach as when we decided to build The Bottleworks,” Kopman said, explaining that the city of St. Louis was a first choice, but “if we can t find the right site, we would look elsewhere … probably in the metropolitan St. Louis area. We’ll look as close to home as possible to start with.”

Teetotaler: Schlafly’s birch brew

Monday, October 4th, 2010

100410_birchbeerWelcome to Teetotaler, a new online column geared at showing you the amazing non-alcoholic drink options around the city. You’ve seen our recommendations for where to get the best brews, booze and bubbly around town. Now it’s time to show you that you don’t have to get tipsy to taste the best this city has to offer. Here’s to the teetotalers in all of us.

In addition to locally brewing dozens of delicious beers, Schlafly also brews a line of non-alcoholic soft drinks named after co-founder Dan Kopman’s great, great grandfather Lewis Osterweis, a cigar manufacturer from 1860’s Connecticut. “I figure that I’m not going into the cigar business,” said Kopman, “so the name lives on with the traditional sodas.”

The three sodas – root, ginger and birch – are all notable and all carry the Lewis Osterweis & Sons label, but the rarity of the birch beer makes it the obvious highlight. Crimson in color, this birch beer is the hue of a watered down, bubbly red wine. While most sugary, carbonated beverages can be overly sweet and dry, this treat is full-bodied and balanced, equally sweet and creamy-flavored, made with cane sugar instead of corn syrup. Although not quite as filling, birch beer is a close cousin to both root beer and cream soda, though the red color and clean finish set it apart.

So as to not taint the immaculate beer lines, Schlafly brews and bottles the sodas (all are Kopman’s recipes) with the help of Fitz’s American Grill and Bottling Works (as noted by the caps on each bottle), and distributes it to a few places in town, including the Four Seasons and The Royale. Both Schlafly brewpubs offer all three sodas on their menus for $2.75 per bottle and for purchase in their gift shops. At the Schlafly Tap Room, you can taste the sodas in the form of a Lewis Float: your choice of soda topped off with vanilla ice cream for $6.

The Scoop: Schlafly’s head of brewing discusses possible sale

Monday, June 21st, 2010

062110_SchlaflyAs first reported in the St. Louis Business Journal on Friday, the founders of The Saint Louis Brewery, Tom Schlafly and Dan Kopman, are in preliminary discussions about selling their majority stakes in the company. James “Otto” Ottolini, head of brewing operations for Schlafly contacted Sauce to discuss what has transpired thus far and his involvement in these events.

“Tom and Dan are open to selling their controlling stake in the company. I’ve been talking to them and working on it. I got my MBA to assist with the exit strategy for the owners. I just didn’t expect to use it so soon,” stated Ottolini, who earned his MBA in May from Washington University’s Olin Business School Executive MBA program. “But this process could take years,” he added.

According to Ottolini, on June 2, Schlafly and Kopman met with him and eight other members of the company’s senior management to announce their intentions. The following day, the senior management group met to draft a statement notifying all employees. The statement was read to employees on June 7.

When asked which employees might be able to purchase a stake in the company, Ottolini responded that it is unclear at this time. “You can’t separate the (beer) brand from two restaurants. An employee stock ownership program with a restaurant? There are not many models like that. That’s almost putting the cart before the horse, because the main financing is going to have to come from somewhere else. You need to have an ownership group. It’s not like employees can pass the hat and have enough to buy the company.”

So who might be among those new investors? “Essentially, we’re looking for more Tom Schlaflys. We need to find someone who is happy with Tom Schlafly and a beer being called Schlafly,” replied Ottolini, adding that the investor would “need to know the right way to run a beer company – this beer company.”

Ottolini stated that the estimated worth of the company has yet to be determined but cited last year’s revenue as $11.7 million.

“It’s a great opportunity. This is not a distressed sale,” he said.

– Ligaya Figueras

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