Eric Radovich resigns his post as Executive Director of the Washington Beer Commission
There are big changes shaking out at the Washington Beer Commission right now, but the only thing that matters to most of you is the future of beer festivals like the Washington Brewers Festival. Read on…
Last December’s Winter Beer Festival in Seattle marked the end of an era. Fourteen years ago, the Washington Beer Commission selected Eric Radovich to act as the organization’s Executive Director. The Beer Commissioner recently resigned from his post, calling it, “The best job ever.”
The 2022 Washington Winter Beer Festival was the last event in which Eric Radovich and his crew, Radovich Communications (pictured above), had a direct hand. To the beer-drinking public, the most recognizable attribute of the Washington Beer Commission is that it organizes and operates most of the biggest beer festivals in the state, including the annual Washington Brewers Festival at Marymoor Park. Along with the Washington-brewed beers, it was Radovich’s team that made those events so successful.
It wasn’t all about the beer festivals. Under Radovich’s leadership, the Commission launched a website, expanded WABL (the Washington Beer Lovers fan club), launched the WA Beer mobile app, grew a substantial social media presence, and spearheaded many other initiatives to promote the Washington brewing industry. The list of accomplishments is long.
In 2017, an economic impact study was commissioned for the purpose of showing how the state’s 400-plus breweries contribute to the state’s economy. The study showed that the industry contributes $14 billion in economic impact and accounts for 6,300 jobs directly.
When the Washington Beer Commission brought on Radovich as the Executive Director in 2009, there were just 114 breweries in the state. Today there are at least 437, with more new breweries poised to open at any moment. It’s been an era of unbridled growth.
So, What Happens Now?
The Washington Beer Commission, which is part of the state’s Department of Agriculture, is tasked with promoting Washington’s brewing industry. Festivals are the primary way the Commission earns money to fulfill that mission.
Radovich and his crew created and managed dozens of great events over the years: Washington Brewers Festival (Redmond), Winter Beer Festival (Seattle), Belgianfest (Seattle), Inland NW Beer Festival (Spokane), Bremerton Summer Brewfest, and others.
Obviously, the pandemic was devastating to that kind of fundraising activity. The pandemic, combined with the public’s apparent waning interest in attending beer festivals, puts the Commission in a difficult position.
What happens with the Commission now that Radovich and his team are gone remains to be seen. It will carry on, and presumably host more beer festivals, but exactly how that will look is unclear. Nothing is certain. The Washington Beer Blog will report any forthcoming news.
About the Commission — The Washington Beer Commission is the state-sanctioned commission tasked with promoting Washington-brewed beer. Washington is one of the only states in the nation to have such a commission. The Washington Beer Commission operates within the Washington State Department of Agriculture. A group of volunteers performs various roles on the Beer Commission’s committees. Most of these volunteers have day jobs working for breweries or are otherwise engaged in the Washington brewing industry. The Executive Director, a paid position, is just that: the person who directs the Commission.
Note that the Washington Beer Commission is NOT the Washington Brewers Guild. Though the two organizations share some similarities, they are entirely separate.