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Bob Leggett: Founder of Artisanal Imports

Innovators Series Issue 24
Bob Leggett, CEO of Artisanal Imports


Today, along with some of the most storied names in traditional European brewing, Bob’s riding the waves of craft beer, bringing buzzworthy craft brewers from Europe and South America to the states.

“We’re working on bringing a new craft brewery from Belgium called Brussels Beer Project. The guys reached out to me a couple years ago – at the time they didn’t even have a brewery, they just had a concept and had contract brewed some beer. I was impressed with the guys, which is part of the criteria –  who are we dealing with, do we get along, do they have good ideas… And the beer was interesting. So now they’ve built a brewery, and we’ll be bringing their beer in later this year.”

In the past few years, Artisanal has fully rounded out its craft lineup with acclaimed brands that share Bob’s passion for quality over quantity, like Brazil’s Wäls and Colorado, Belgium’s B.O.M and Prearis, and Elgood's from England, a family-owned traditional brewery since 1795 which has resurrected its age old brewing methods to produce spontaneously inoculated sour ales. 

“In our minds, ‘craft’ is not about the size of the brand or the brewery, it’s about whether the beer itself comes first. We’re not selling a commodity. As you go down the road of working with a business partner like a brewery, the relationship has to be sustainable, and that usually has most to do with the people you’re dealing with,” Leggett said.

Whether a brewery is old or new, one aspect they can all agree on is that its beer should be transported with utmost care. To this end, importers like Artisanal streamline the transportation process as much as possible, generally heading straight to America after being bottled.

“We’re particular about how beer is shipped, and it’s typically pretty fresh when it gets to us. We maintain backstock in our warehouses, one in New Jersey and one in California, so we have to warehouse the product under proper conditions. Transportation across the pond to the East Coast only takes about ten to twelve days.”

The West Coast takes a bit longer, having to travel across the entire contiguous U.S., but the majority of Artisanal’s beers are bottle-conditioned and meant to be aged, giving them a long shelf life.

Whether it’s giving rednecks and hippies something in common, or helping to revitalize a near-extinct style of brewing by taking it to the other side of the globe, Bob has made a career out of sharing the universal joy of a quality pint.

“When you can talk about various styles of beer and cultures that have created a style and its history, it creates interest for people in seeing other cultures. I think beer is a fantastic medium for bringing people from different cultures together.”