When starting the brewery we came across a lot of “no.” Instead of taking no for an answer, I would ask how
As a part of our series about women who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Wyndee Forrest, co-founder of CraftHaus Brewery. Some districts across America have become synonymous with leading the craft beer scene — Pacific Northwest, Chicago, Denver and Southern California. Pioneers in the industry have been leading the way since the inception of craft beer, but none quite like CraftHaus in Henderson, Nevada. In Southern Nevada, there are several rules and licensing ordinances that come along with owning a brewery because of gaming regulations. This type of business license, which includes gaming, was the only one available in Southern Nevada and it was 50,000 dollars, well over the standard cost across other states. Moreover, the owners of CraftHaus did not want gaming to be a part of their brewpub. Owner Wyndee Forrest lobbied City of Henderson officials to change the brewpub permitting and create a separate license that didn’t include gaming. She was successful in creating a new business license in Southern Nevada for brewpubs that is 1/5th the original price. This paved the way for aspiring bar and brewery owners in Henderson, Nevada to follow their dreams. Since CraftHaus’ inception in 2014, many more breweries have opened in what is hailed as “The District” in Henderson.
Thank you so much for doing this with us Wyndee! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
A graduation trip from UNLV to Europe opened my eyes to what craft beer could be. Sitting on the canals of Amsterdam, my first sip of a Belgian beer was like the heavens opened up and a glorious light had revealed itself in the form of beer. But this realization was two-fold in that beer was the tool that brought people together. There was a community being built over every pint enjoyed. Upon returning back to Las Vegas, we looked for those beers and that community here. At that time in Henderson, it was really hard to find. So my husband, Dave, starting home brewing and that passion took over our lives and time. All trips were focused around locations that had a strong beer culture. When we chose to turn our passion into a profession, we quickly learned why our community was lacking in craft beer representation. The licensing was not written to be independently owned-friendly, it was written for gaming. My career after graduation was in public relations and marketing which I always loved and was fueled by. I now take care of the branding, marketing, social media and public relations for CraftHaus.
Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?
When starting the brewery we came across a lot of “no.” Instead of taking no for an answer, I would ask how. When we were told our brewpub license was 60,000 dollars and included gaming, which we were adamant about not incorporating into our business, I asked how we could change it. For decades, it has been a given that when a liquor license is issued it is accompanied by a gaming license. I chose to challenge the licensing and create a new license that was more craft beer-friendly. In lobbying over a year with City of Henderson officials, I was also able to create strong relationships within our city, who now are our biggest supporters. We’re very fortunate that the City of Henderson listened to our needs and they were willing to change. We had to do the work, but the City was there to guide us along the way. I then went on to support our Nevada Craft Brewers Association in helping increase the cap on our beer production (yes, there is a cap on production!) After successfully amending the production limit, I was asked to lobby on Capitol Hill and represent the State of Nevada’s breweries. I never thought I would have a career as a lobbyist, but I found reward in the challenge of making a positive difference for our craft beer industry.
We all need a little help along the journey — who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?
First, my husband and CraftHaus Co-Founder, Dave Forrest. He has patience, which I lack, and helps me make sound decisions based on the longevity of the company. Another mentor that made a big impact on us when we were in our planning phase was Tomme Arthur, owner of Lost Abbey in San Marcos, CA. He was gracious with his time and exemplified what the craft beer industry is based upon: camaraderie. He inspired us to pay forward the camaraderie he showed us to make positive changes for future breweries in Henderson. One of my favorite quotes from Tomme is “I’m not in the business of making beer, I’m in the business of staying in business.”
How are you going to shake things up next?
I really see a hole in, no pun intended, tapping into beer tourism. I think we would like to help foster a healthy beer tourism relationship within the City of Henderson. As to how that manifests, we will have to see. There is still much lobbying work to be done on behalf of the Nevada Craft Brewers Association and prepare for the next legislative session as well.
Do you have a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us?
I follow Gary Vee on Instagram — he is my daily dose that gets me fired up. “Start With Why” by Simon Sinek really changed the way I approach all decisions that will impact our brewery and community.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
The movement would be to always question “how?” I have always asked “how”, how can we be better, how can we build a community, how can we affect change?
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
I have always loved the quote from Mahatma Gandhi “Be the change you wish to see in others.” I look at challenges as an opportunity to make a positive change. Instead of complaining about something, take the initiative to change it.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
www.crafthausbrewery.com | FB /crafthausbrewery | IG @CraftHausBrew
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!