Growing up in Vermont I was surrounded with craft beer. Drinking Long Trail, Switchback, Otter Creek, Rock Art, and Vermont Pub & Brewery. Late Gen X'ers and early Gen Y'ers are the first generation to grow up in an America with beer choices. Growing up in Vermont I developed an early appreciation for local products made by people in the community, beer being one of them. Timing and where I grew up inspired me to start brewing.
On September 8th, 2006, I brewed my first batch of homebrew. By the end of September I had brewed three batches and was hooked; I had found my calling. Brewing is a beautiful blend of art and science. At the end of the day you have something tangible to share with friends and family. I began to make plans to become a professional brewer. I was 24 years old, living in upstate New York, and went up and down the Hudson River Valley looking for a job, while also looking into the different brewing schools across the country. Lots of doors closed, but I got a job on the packaging line at a contract brewery, Olde Saratoga Brewing Co. (125 bbl brew house) in Saratoga Springs, NY. My first job was opening empty cases and six packs by hand then stuffing six packs in the cases. I expressed interest in brewing from the beginning, sharing homebrew and talking to the brewers about what they were doing. After months on packaging, I moved into cellaring, learning how to CIP (clean in place) and sanitize tanks first. Wait, I think they taught me how to scrub floors and parts first (lots of floor scrubbing). Then I learned how to harvest and pitch yeast, dry hop, filter and force carbonate. During my time at Olde Saratoga Brewing Co., I attended the American Brewers Guild, completing the Intensive Brewing Science and Engineering Course in 2007. After returning from school, I was trained in the brew house at Olde Saratoga Brewing Co., brewing brands such as; Schmaltz Brewing Co. (He'brew beers), Blue Point Brewing Co., Southampton Brewing Co., Thomas Hooker, Sackets Harbor, Mendocino Brewing Co., and Opa Opa Brewing Co. to name a few. The experience of brewing many different styles, with different takes on recipe formulation from so many different brewmasters/breweries in the Northeast was an amazing insight into developing my own beer recipes. While at the American Brewers Guild in Vermont I found out about the job board on Probrewer.com and saw a job for a brewing position at Dogfish Head Craft Brewery (100bbl brewhouse). I applied, interviewed and a couple months later I was hired and moved down to Delaware. Just like that, I was brewing at one of the most well known breweries in the country. After brewing at Dogfish Head for two years, I was ready to move on to a smaller brewery that had a more hands on brewing process. An opportunity came up at a start-up brewery in Delaware called Evolution Craft Brewing Co. (10bbl brew house). I was hired as Assistant Brewmaster, brewing 2nd shift since EVO was starting to double brew nearly every day. It's a 10 bbl brewhouse where I stir the mash with a canoe paddle and I loved it!
During this six year period I brewed over 180 research and development batches at home. I even started a homebrew blog (Hopfentreader.com) to track all the beers I was brewing. Many of these beers went on to win homebrewing competitions. When brewing I'm inspired by flavors from around the world and think about a beer style that would complement these flavors. Using different grains, spices, fruits, vegetables and herbs is both challenging and rewarding. I enjoy discovering what unusual fermentables taste like and how to best use them. Part farmers market chef, part Willy Wonka; what I brew depends on what inspires me.