What’s your current position at your brewery, and how did you get started in the craft brewing industry?
I am the head brewer and co-founder of Elevation Beer Co. [in Poncha Springs, Colo.] I got into the craft brewing industry after taking a leap and quitting my day job as a journeyman plumber. I had been homebrewing for years and always wanted to have a career in beer. The creativity, challenge, and reward of creating great-tasting beer really captured me. I took some brewing courses through the Siebel Institute and got my first brewing job at Tommyknocker Brewery in Idaho Springs, Colo. I was fortunate to brew with, and learn from, a great group of brewers who have helped me tremendously.
What’s new at Elevation?
We opened the brewery in May 2012 and are currently in the middle of our first expansion. We are increasing fermentation capacity by over 100 percent. We are also adding a bottling line and making numerous improvements to things like our compressed air and CO2 systems. We have added some storage space to the brewery and are ramping up production to keep pace with demand. I am always brewing new beers as well and have some fun offerings on the horizon. We are also excited to be packaging our 16-ounce bottles in four-packs and expanding distribution of those beers.
What’s the best part of being a part of the craft brewing community?
The best part of the craft brewing community is that it is in fact a community! I can't think of another industry where competition is as friendly. Breweries are always willing to help another brewery with anything from technical questions to averting a hop shortage disaster. The craft brewing industry is a great place to be and I have met some fantastic people.
What do you like to do in your time away from the brewery?
With a startup business, the time away from the brewery is limited! I love spending as much time as possible with my lovely wife, Sara, and 15-month-old son, Henry. We are lucky to live in such a beautiful part of the country and we try to take full advantage of that. Fishing, snowboarding, hiking, rafting, and seeing live music are all favorite pastimes.
What’s your favorite food and beer pairing?
We recently paired a chocolate and hot chile goat cheese from Jumpin’ Good Goat Dairy with our Apis IV Belgian Quad and those flavors worked very well together. My most memorable pairing occurred this summer at our local rodeo where our 8 Second Kölsch was paired with Rocky Mountain oysters! I had to have a few glasses of Kölsch beforehand to prepare for the pairing but it ended up being delicious.
What’s your biggest accomplishment unrelated to your job?
Definitely the birth of and raising our son Henry. We still have a long way to go, but I am very proud of him.
What’s your favorite beer that your brewery does not produce?
I have a soft spot for a lot of the beers of the East Coast where I am from originally. Troegenator by Troegs was one of the first craft beers I fell in love with. I also love Prima Pils by Victory. Aside from those two, I am a sucker for all things Belgian.
What’s the most memorable travel destination at which you’ve had a chance to sample the local beer?
Cologne, Germany. It’s a beautiful city with a strong history of brewing. Sipping Gaffel Kölsch in the shadow of Dom Cathedral is something I will always remember. I can’t wait to go back.