Kristi Wilson is a force. Her warm, calm personality sometimes belies her reputation as the driven sales representative locals have dubbed “The Beer Whisperer.”
I first met Wilson in 2014 when she was working at Panther Island Brewing Company. I didn’t know it at the time, but she had just dipped her feet in the craft beer waters. For several years before that, she ran hair salons. After leaving that industry, she met Willie Lindsay, who encouraged her to work for a distribution business he co-owned at the time.
“He said I would be great because of the way I engage with people,” Wilson recalled. “I never did outside sales in my life. I was repping for 16 different breweries, and I didn’t know the product. I decided I needed to take a step back.”
That step back became a leap forward when she met Ryan McWhorter, Panther Island Brewing Company co-founder and head brewer. Wilson said that job taught her a lot about making and selling craft beer. In early 2016, Wilson joined newcomer Wild Acre Brewing Company as part of their sales team. While she enjoyed working with Wild Acre owner John Pritchett, earlier this year, Wilson took on a sales position at Arlington-based Legal Draft Beer Company.
When I asked if she intentionally seeks new breweries to throw her talents into, Wilson acknowledged that she “loves seeing new businesses and getting them off the ground.”
Among her reasons for joining Legal Draft was the opportunity to work with legendary brewmaster Henryk Orlik. Wilson admitted to have a platonic “beer crush” on the brewer who holds dozens of awards and has 43 years of professional brewing experience.
Wilson credits her success with knowledge of her product and an understanding that people come before sales. On paper, her job requires maintaining relationships with grocery store and bar staffers, with the goal of expanding Legal Draft’s number of taps and shelf space.
“I want to build a friendship,” she said. “I think that’s super important, to bridge that gap and learn the human being behind that role. They’ve earned it. I want to know their backstory and what they’ve done.”
Long term, Wilson confided she is interested in brewing professionally.
“I want to take my knowledge to the next level,” she said. “I want to brew beer. I want to get up in there and mash in and sweat my ass off.”
Like I said, Kristi Wilson is a force. And luckily, she’s one that plans to stick around North Texas for the foreseeable future.
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On Tap this Week:
Fort Worth Beer Mile
“Join us Saturday, August 26th at 7:30pm for the Fort Worth Beer Mile. The race will start at Rahr & Sons Brewing Co. and end at The Collective Brewing Project, with a stop at HopFusion Ale Works in the middle!
The Fort Worth Beer Mile is a one mile run with a 12 ounce craft beer served every quarter mile along the run, with a post race beer at The Collective Brewing Project. Beers will be provided with purchase of Beer Mile ticket along with a Beer Mile logo glass. Proceeds of the Fort Worth Beer Mile will benefit Veritas Life Adventure. Tickets can be purchased at fortworthbeermile.com”
Martin House Riverside Shootout
From Martin house: Join us on Saturday, August 19th from 1-5pm for the first ever Riverside Shootout tour. There will be live music, food trucks, and plenty of beer. We will host local homebrew teams who will give out free samples of their delicious and adventurous brews.
Tickets are $15 and will cover your pint glass, three Martin House beers, and all the tastings from our guests brewers that you can handle. Grab your tickets on our website today.
Panther Island Brewing Pop-up Beer Dinner
From Panther Island: We will be hosting Chef Scott Curtis from Bird Cafe at the brewery as he presents some of his genius on a plate paired with Panther Island Brewing beers. Visit the event page here. August 10.