Brewers Association

Tom Dargen

Tom Dargen

What’s your current position at your brewery, and how did you get started in the craft brewing industry?

I am the director of brewing operations at CraftWorks Breweries and Restaurants Inc. where I oversee the pub breweries of Gordon Biersch and other Specialty Concepts. I began my craft brewing journey at the Wynkoop Brewing Company in 1988 as a busboy back in school, and wormed my way into the brewery after a few months. I was offered a job as a congressional aide upon graduation, but chose rubber boots over neckties.

What’s new at CraftWorks? 

Our brewers have a much freer reign over specialty beers now, though we still adhere to the Reinheitsgebot. We sometimes get a bad rap for being stodgy and overly conservative, but we have won awards for some pretty esoteric stuff like rauchbier, eisbock, and gose. It takes a while to turn an aircraft carrier, but we’re getting there.

What’s the best part of being a part of the craft brewing community?

It is certainly cliché to say “the people,” but most of my friends are in the craft brewing community; hell, it’s where I met my wife. Mostly I cherish the humor and openness of it. There are not many other jobs where, when you run into a problem, you can pick up the phone and have one of your competitors help you out.

What do you like to do in your time away from the brewery?

Most of my time is spent in an office now, so I actually love getting out into the breweries or building new ones. When I’m not working, I most enjoy simply hanging out with my family; my kids are so much brighter and funnier than I could ever hope to be.

What’s your favorite food and beer pairing?

I grew up in the southwest hills of Portland, Ore. Some of my best memories of my late father are sitting on his patio overlooking the Willamette River and Mt. Hood back as a kid in the late 70s/early 80s, eating fried chicken gizzards and Tillamook cheese on Wheat Thins, and washing it down with the now defunct Heidelberg beer. Yum.

What’s your biggest accomplishment unrelated to your job?

Helping my beautiful wife raise our two incredible kids. My daughter is an academic overachiever heading off to college this year with dreams of med school, and my teenage son has battled through the cloud of autism to become a pretty impressive filmmaker.

What’s your favorite beer that your brewery does not produce?

Again, it is cliché to say Sierra Nevada Pale Ale but I feel like I was weaned on it; certainly it comprised a good portion of my plasma. Once in college we had a Christmas tree that we hung hundreds of Sierra bottle caps on for ornaments…pretty geeky.

What’s the most memorable travel destination at which you’ve had a chance to sample the local beer?

I would have to say drinking wonderful lager beers at Weyermann’s 130th anniversary party in Bamberg, Germany. It was such a spectacular affirmation of what I had devoted my whole life to.


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