What’s your current position at your brewery, and how did you get started in the craft brewing industry?
I am the sales officer and operations officer for Beer Army Combat Brewery [in Trenton, N.C.]. I have been in the beer industry my whole life. My father worked for Anheuser-Busch for close to 40 years then finished up his career with Brooklyn Brewery. While working for Brooklyn, he attended the first annual Brew Bern Beer Fest in New Bern, N.C. This was the first festival that Beer Army hosted. In between helping my father pour beer at his booth and searching for new beers to try, I approached Dustin Canestorp and told him my story. He asked me to call him the next week to talk about a possible position. Two weeks later I was an employee of the Beer Army.
What's new at Beer Army?
We have been expanding ever since we opened our doors. We just finished our outside loading dock and are currently installing our three 30-bbl fermenters on our brewery floor. The most exciting thing is that we will soon have a bottling line and a full canning line! The bottling line will be here in early February and the canning line should be here sometime in the March/April timeframe. This is really going to change the game for us exponentially.
What's the best part of being a part of the craft brewing community?
I really enjoy my job! I get to meet new people, interact with the community on a daily basis, travel, host events, and drink beer! But the best part of being in the craft brewing community would have to be that we truly are a community. We work as one to bring people together to enlighten them and to educate people on the nectar of the gods.
What do you like to do in your time away from the brewery?
I like to play guitar, skateboard, and hang out with my Beer Army crew around the bonfire while drinking some delicious craft beers.
What’s your favorite food and beer pairing?
I LOVE beer and I LOVE food. There is a beer for every dish that a chef can prepare, which makes it really hard to really pick just one pairing. But if I had to choose I would pick Beer Army’s Battle of Brock’s Mill smoked porter and a slowly braised brisket over a bed of fire-grilled green beans and mashed potatoes. The smoky taste pairs great with the brisket and the green beans while providing a delicious contrast between the starch and the porter. Simple yet perfect.
What’s your biggest accomplishment unrelated to your job?
Growing up I played sports year-round—football, basketball, swimming, and baseball. I really wanted to do something new. A friend of my older brother played lacrosse for a school in Charlotte and I really wanted to get involved. My parents didn’t have the time to drive all the way down there so I rallied a group of my friends and convinced them to go the Red Arrow lacrosse camp up the road. They saw that there was an interest in the area and we formed a club lacrosse team. The year after I graduated high school, the club team turned into a high school sport. My biggest accomplishment was creating a team that will forever be a part of my high school’s tradition.
What’s your favorite beer that your brewery does not produce?
As a craft beer drinker, I really enjoy a large range of different beers from stouts and porters to IPAs and lagers, but my all-time favorite “marooned on a desert island beer” would have to be Tröegs Nugget Nectar. An absolutely delicious mixture of ingredients that never does me wrong.
What’s the most memorable travel destination at which you’ve had a chance to sample the local beer?
I don’t get to travel much outside of North Carolina but my most memorable travel experience would have to be when I went to the Great American Beer Festival in Denver this past year. There were thousands of beers there and a lot to do. After traveling hundreds of miles from North Carolina, our first stop was Breckenridge Brewery where we sampled some amazing beers and ate some…wait for it…North Carolina barbecue. It was delicious and the beer paired masterfully. Thanks for the great time, Breckenridge crew!