Q&A with Leah Kilcullen, Marketing Coordinator at Whiplash Beer

Name: Leah Kilcullen

Occupation & Company: Marketing Coordinator at Whiplash Beer

Tell me about your current role?

I started at Whiplash in August 2020, certainly an interesting time to be in the drinks industry! I came in part-time at first to help keep the social media channels rolling but this eventually grew into a wider marketing role as well as taking over the online shop.

Day to day, I might be shooting content, including e-commerce imagery for the shop, supporting our global distributors with information about our latest beers such as tasting notes & images, putting together our newsletter, working with our designers to get new artwork done for cans, organising events locally like tastings or our own beer festival Fidelity, or organising sending my colleagues abroad for other beer festivals. I also work with the production team to ensure I’m up to date on the brewing schedule so I can plan content and release dates around new products.

With the online store, I might be monitoring stock or answering queries from our consumers.

How did you first get into the drinks industry?

I started working in PR in the fashion industry in an agency in Dublin, but over time my client list grew to include drinks brands including global whiskeys and local beer. I found a real love for the drinks industry here and when I decided to leave that role, I knew I wanted to stay in drinks. After a stint in gin, I’ve settled in beer.

What is your favourite part about working in the industry?

The people are definitely part of it! I love being part of a company where the teams are so integrated, whether it’s brewing, packaging or my end in marketing and getting out to meet so many wonderful people at beer festivals.

Day to day, I love how varied this particular role is, it’s definitely a benefit of working in a small company if you’re up for the challenge!

We’re meeting up for a wee drink after work – what are you having?

If we’re having a beer, I’ll definitely be supping on some Rollover Session IPA, one of our best-selling beers. It’s just 3.8% but still full of flavour, it’s a great one for a casual evening. If we’re having a cocktail, I’ll be looking for something like a Manhattan or a Belfast Coffee, depending on the time of night.

You can only have one drink for the rest of your life, what’s in your glass?

Such a hard question! A gin & tonic or a proper pilsner.

It’s Saturday night, what restaurant are you going to?

Shouk in Drumcondra, hard to beat!

Is there a bucket list drink you want to try, or a dream drinks destination you’d love to visit?

Believe it or not, I’ve never been to Brussels! I’d love to get there soon and get around all the amazing beer bars.

The most memorable experience of your career?

Earlier in my career, getting to visit Bodega Lustau in Jerez was just an incredible and immersive experience, especially as someone who was finding her feet in the industry. In this job, probably our beer fest Fidelity that took place in July. What a week that was!

One thing you’d like to see more of in the drinks industry?

I would love to see more local & independent brands in pubs that fall outside of the speciality beer bar category. We need to promote beyond being “craft” and focus on independent and local, in my opinion. People often think of “craft beer” as only IPAs or really high-ABV stuff. There are many a great stout, porter & witbier being brewed in Ireland by microbreweries.

The word craft, for some people, can also conjure up an image of a few folks brewing in a shed for the craic – absolutely not true, in our case anyway!

What advice would you give to someone who wants to start a career in the industry?

Networking is important. Some jobs in smaller companies may not be widely advertised so you might miss things if you’re not following them on social media for example, and opportunities can arise in small companies just by meeting the right person at the right time. Educate yourself on the industry, beyond your love for the end product. Things like production, sales channels, and for marketing things like the laws and regulations surrounding the promotion of alcohol, could make you stand out as a candidate.

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