It didn’t hurt that his one-year, post college stint in AmeriCorps placed him near the Rogue Ales brewery in Oregon. “That kind of enhanced things and I got a lot of encouragement like, this is what you should be doing,” he says of the response from his AmeriCorps coworkers to his obvious passion for craft beer.
On coming back to our area, he took the lowest position you can get at a brewery, working the bottling line two days a week at Flying Fish. From there, things fell into place.
“I went to brewery school [via the roughly 8 month online course offered by The American Brewers Guild which was complemented by his work at Flying Fish] and got my education. Then I just got lucky—the cellar man left and the brewer left so I jumped up immediately.” He soon went from cellar man to 2nd shift brewer to lead brewer and then brewery manager at Flying Fish.
After 6 ½ years, he left Flying Fish to become the head brewer at Beltway Brewing Company in March 2013. His work consisting of 100% contract brewing, he handled brewing duties for the likes of Grimm Ales, Adroit Theory Brewing Co., and Islamorada Beer Co. He says that sometimes he was given recipes to follow and in other cases, he was paid to consult to flesh out beers for clients.
“I have a lot of experience in developing recipes for other people. Sometimes people came to us and said, I want a Czech pilsner with a little bit of citrus and we developed that for them. That was a good learning experience,” he says.
His time with Beltway prepared him in others ways.
“I was involved in the construction process in Virginia too. It’s always easier to look back and say, I wish I had done that. I don’t want to go over that and start thinking about it too much. We’re all pretty happy with our layout. Of course, we had to have the architect redraw the drawings—stuff like that that cost us money. If anything, I wish we just had sat down and stared at the plans more,” he says.
He also kept himself up late preparing for the future during his 1 ½ year stint at Beltway, which ended this past October.
“I would get so excited about what was coming that you spend your nights thinking about recipes. It was all concepts on paper—I never actually brewed my own stuff there,” he says.
For his starting lineup at Double Nickel, he’s brewed each beer three or four times on a small scale.
As for his approach?
“I’m not trying to find a niche like all sours or in your face IPAs. I’m going to brew beer that I like to drink. It’s clean, drinkable. We’re going to do a barrel aging series right off, from day 1. I’m designing beer for myself,” he says.
I tell him that clean, drinkable brings to mind German beers that, even after 8-10, don’t leave you with a headache or a shitty film over reality like their mutated American counterparts (Miller, Budweiser, etc.).
“Yeah, I’m gonna make a nice clean pilsner. The easiest way to design your brewery is what’s going to sell the best. I love brown ales and porters, but unfortunately, they don’t sell well—but they’re still coming,” he says with calm assurance.
Their opening roster will include a pilsner, an IPA, a session IPA, and “something malty, probably a brown ale,” he says.
“The fifth depends on what season I get the ok to start brewing. Hopefully we’re open in time to get a summer ale out,” he adds.
The hopefully there refers to getting all the required permits from the TTB (Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau).
And he’s confident in the face of what too many people label an overly crowded craft beer scene.
“It is saturated, but if you look at the growth, we [the scene] haven’t plateaued yet. Everyone is surviving still. Everyone wants variety,” he says.
CONTINUE READING >