Tom Bleigh Joins Craft Brew Alliance As Its Innovation Brewmaster

 Tom Bleigh, Angelo De Ieso and Carl Singmaster (left to right) at Bailey's Taproom during a past KillerBeerFest.
Tom Bleigh, Angelo De Ieso and Carl Singmaster (left to right) at Bailey’s Taproom during a past KillerBeerFest.

Today Craft Brew Alliance has announced the hire of Tom Bleigh as its Innovation Brewmaster. Bleigh as he will now leave his position as Director of Brewing Operations at Hopworks Urban Brewery to join CBA. At his new position, Bleigh will lead the innovation teams at Widmer Brothers Brewing, Redhook Brewery, Kona Brewing Company, Omission Beer, and Square Mile Cider Company by increasing its new beer development. With Bleigh’s strong background spent from many years at Hopworks and Pyramid Brewing we know that he is up for the challenge and will excel at his new and exciting role at CBA. Congratulations!

Tom Bleigh at Pyramid Brewing in Portland, Oregon back in 2009.
A younger Tom Bleigh while working at Pyramid Brewing in Portland, Oregon back in 2009.

Here is more from the press release from CBA.

Over the past two years, CBA has made significant investments in enhancing its innovation breweries in Hawaii, Oregon, New Hampshire, and Washington, including building a new pilot brewery adjacent to Widmer Brothers’ current 750,000 barrel brewery in Portland, a new high-efficiency Kona brewery in Kailua-Kona, and a new Redhook Brewpub opening in Seattle later this year.  In addition to leading innovation and creativity across CBA’s owned breweries, Bleigh will support the integration of new strategic partner breweries.

As the consumer thirst for local craft beers and unique beer flavors continues to grow, CBA’s pioneering craft beer brands are known for developing creative small-batch beers with a strong sense of place. Working closely with CBA’s brand, brewing, and quality teams, Bleigh will increase the focus on driving continuous innovation in beer recipe development and small-batch experimentation within the CBA portfolio.

MacTarnahan's head brewer Tom Bleigh and his daughter Stella back in 2010. (photo by Angelo De Ieso)
MacTarnahan’s head brewer Tom Bleigh and his daughter Stella back in 2010. (photo by Angelo De Ieso)

“In addition to our focus on quality, CBA’s breweries have a long track record of innovation – from Widmer Brothers’ extensive research and development with local hop growers, to Kona’s small-batch Makana Series, which is brewed using unique local ingredients such as cold-smoked Kiawe wood,” said Scott Mennen, Chief Operating Officer for CBA. “Tom’s leadership experience and passion for craft beer will strengthen our innovation initiatives and support our commitment to making the best-tasting, highest-quality beers that bring our brands to life for beer drinkers.“

“I am excited to join CBA and contribute to a larger discussion of craft on local, regional and national levels,” said Bleigh. “CBA has a strong history of being craft leaders and being an active part of innovation. I look forward to this new challenge and being part of an organization with diverse brands and amazing teams already in place.”

Tom Bleigh (right) and founder Christian Ettinger show off the culmination of six months of work – Hopworks new Gear Up IPA, a Northwest-Style IPA with a dry and tropical-hop profile.
Christian Ettinger  owner of Hopworks Urban Brewery and Tom Bleigh (right) at the recent release of Gear Up IPA. (FoystonFoto)

Bleigh joins CBA from Hopworks Brewery, where he most recently served as Director of Brewing Operations. Prior to that, Bleigh held a variety of leadership positions, including Lead Brewer, Lead Cellar Operator, Head Brewer and Plant Manager at Portland Brewing, Pyramid Breweries, Independent Brewer’s United and North American Breweries. During his time at Pyramid Breweries, he was recognized by the GABF as the Mid-Size Brewer/Brewery of the Year. He graduated from UC Davis and UW-Madison with an MFA in Fine Arts.