Tradition Brewing Company: Getting personal about the beer business

The Tradition team, front, left to right: Heidi Shannard, sales representative; Michele Hanson, tasting room and events manager; Gray Bowditch, co-founder and co-general manager; Chris Balog, lab and yeast specialist; Jenna Koon, tasting room shift lead and marketing specialist; back: Abbie Brehm, brewer; Dr. Ron Quinland, quality manager; Kevin Kingsbury, head brewer.

The success of a company is based on the people,” says Tradition Brewing Company co-founder, Gray Bowditch. From the head brewer to the beer tenders in the company, “it’s essential to paint a positive and efficient culture amongst workers and staff, knowing and responding quickly to their needs,” he continues.

Tradition Brewing Company, located on Thimble Shoals Boulevard in the heart of Newport News City Center, has been a staple of the Hampton Roads area since 2016 and will be celebrating its seven-year anniversary in June.

Known for its lagers, a fermented brew stored for two to six weeks to achieve a crisp, clean, and refreshing taste, Tradition Brewing boasts 20+ different beers on draft and offers a diverse list of flavor profiles. “Of 17 breweries on the Peninsula, we have the largest tasting room and one of the best locations in the hub of City Center and main traffic thoroughfare,” says Bowditch.

Tradition’s success is no accident, with focused attention given to company hires. “It’s a very competitive market, and good staff are hard to find and harder to keep. The better they are, the more the competition wants them,” says Bowditch. Consequently, all new hires are vetted to ensure a good fit to the company’s business model. For instance, when its current head brewer, Kevin Kingsbury, was hired, Bowditch said, “Kevin, for you to come in and be successful, a good match and fit, you have to be a good educator.” Kingsbury bought into that philosophy and now, says Bowditch, “creates an energy that is addictive — we see positive energy, smiles and intrigue from those in lower positions wanting to understand more.”

In addition to its flagship staples, like Tradice Czech-Style Pilsner and Tradition IPA 13, Tradition offers seasonal rotating drafts such as Sangria Gose and Persnickety Witch Pumpkin Ale, to name a few. We also offer Slack Tide, a Dry Irish Stout; Red Willie, an Irish Red Ale and Thank You for Being a Friend, a Belgian Golden Strong Ale. “Our goal is to stay true to the market and true to our customer,” says Bowditch.

To truly stand out among the competition, Tradition Brewing Company strives to do things a little differently than its counterparts. “From the sales rep afield to beer tenders at the bar,
we want to be as inclusive as possible. We cater to all — those who like urban to those who prefer red wine. We try to open minds to tasting something a little different, experimenting with taste and trying something new,” says Bowditch. And, while the business is about the beer, that’s not the whole story; the most rewarding aspect of the work is the people. “We start a dialogue, give them tasting glasses, hear their feelings and give them what they want,” Bowditch continues. “And we take it personally because we make it; it’s important for us to get it right.”

But getting it right for Bowditch doesn’t end with the brewing company. It’s also about spending time with family — boat time on the Chesapeake and James, sitting in the duck blind during duck season and enjoying their beautiful seven-year-old lab, Rudder. Part of that family experience includes Bowditch’s cousin, Bruce Hornsby, whose music makes the top list of favorites for Bowditch. “He’s sort of like that late 80s and early 90s rock and roll,” says Bowditch. And with a favorite song like Michael Bolton’s “Love Is a Wonderful Thing,” Bowditch is armed and ready for whatever his day may bring, whether it’s professional or personal. 

About Terilyn Goins, Ph.D. 66 Articles
Dr. Terilyn J. Goins is a motivational speaker/vocalist, trainer and coach. She offers a wide variety of training and motivational music programs. Goins creates programs that educate, inspire and challenge participants. Visit or reach her at 757-303-7807 or by email at