Craft beer career brews for UC alum

A&S grad parlays communication degree into managing role with Rebel Mettle

By Rebecca Schweitzer

For the city of Cincinnati, breweries are big business, with dozens of craft locations spread across the area. For University of Cincinnati alumnus Matt Cremeans, the abundant brewery scene provided opportunity for a new career.

Cremeans, who graduated in 2014 with his degree in communication with a certificate in public relations, began working at Rebel Mettle Brewery in January. After visiting the brewery, the UC College of Arts and Sciences graduate began speaking with the owner, Michael Brown, and eventually joined the team. Brown, an Air Force veteran, had opened the location in September of 2020, establishing it as one of only three local breweries to be veteran-owned.

Cremeans said that his time at UC helped to prepare him for the world of sales and interpersonal relationship building. During one course at UC, Cremeans had the opportunity to create a marketing plan for a selected company.

Through this exercise, he says, he found a better understanding of how to craft the company’s image to benefit the marketing system. This aided him as he moved from UC into the full-time workforce.

A&S communication grad Matt Cremeans, director of sales for Rebel Mettle Brewery downtown.

A&S communication grad Matt Cremeans, director of sales for Rebel Mettle Brewery in downtown Cincinnati.

“Public perception is everything. Now that I'm in charge of essentially this whole brewery, perception of sales and what people think of the brewery and the people that work here is important,” Cremeans said.

The brewery, located in downtown Cincinnati on Fourth Street, sports a modern industrial design. Brick walls enclose the main taproom with several large silver aging tanks along the back wall because the company brews in house. Rebel Mettle sells nine of its brews on tap on location and offers them to customers in delivery and to-go orders. 

In the past year, Rebel Mettle has grown to more than 400 accounts, including restaurants, stores, hotels and other locations in which their beer is sold, spanning across the Tristate area. As director of sales and distribution, Cremeans oversees them all, managing communication with their distribution company, and handling sales and events held in the brewery’s taproom, game room, loft and patio.

Cremeans says he has found the field to be a competitive but friendly environment, with approximately 60-70 breweries in the Cincinnati area. 

 “Craft beer in Cincinnati is huge,” Cremeans said. “It is a big market, and you’d think it would be saturated but it’s not. People like to drink in Cincinnati.” 

Throughout his academic career, Cremeans worked at area hotels. He said his capstone course steered him into the world of food and beverage. For the course, Cremeans had to find an internship, which led to the downtown Marriott with the rooftop bar where he worked two days a week. After the internship, he was offered a position running the food and beverage department. 

Cremeans later managed other local entertainment and event centers, then found his way to Director of Events at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden. Once COVID-19 hit last year, the zoo was no longer holding events and Cremeans' department folded. 

He joined Rebel Mettle as sales manager for six months and was later promoted to his current position as director of sales. Since Cremeans joined the team at Rebel Mettle, the brewery has rapidly expanded. They plan to be statewide by the end of this year, statewide in Indiana by Spring 2022, and are currently in the top 16 counties of Kentucky.

Featured image at top: Glasses of Beer. Credit/Pixabay