What’s your current position at your brewery, and how did you get started in the craft brewing industry?
I am the owner and brewer at Wanderlust Brewing Company [in Flagstaff, Ariz.]. I also moonlight as cellerman, lab tech, quality control, janitor, and anything else that needs to be done.
What’s new at Wanderlust?
We just got another fermentation vessel, which is really exciting because we're hoping it will allow us to do more seasonals and start filling some of our used wine and whiskey barrels. Our current fermentation capacity allows us to keep our accounts happy, so adding this tank should allow for some more experimentation time. We're hoping in the next couple months to start a very limited small-batch bottling program as well so that people can actually hold onto our beers for a little while.
What’s the best part of being a part of the craft brewing community?
The community itself is just phenomenal. Everyone is so excited about what they make and what everyone else is doing for the craft brewing industry as a whole. There are a number of breweries in Flagstaff, and we're all very close with each other, which is a great place to be. Sure, there's competition, but it's very friendly competition. "A rising tide lifts all ships" is definitely the prevailing mentality.
What do you like to do in your time away from the brewery?
The brewery is actually a second job for me right now, so there isn't a whole lot of time left in the day between both jobs. I try to get out on my mountain bike once or twice a week, and get out about the same for some skiing in the winter.
What’s your favorite food and beer pairing?
That's a tough one, as it's really situation-dependent. I find that I can pretty much find a beer to go with whatever I'm eating (and I usually try to!). I absolutely love our Belgian Pale (Chateau Americana) with BBQ or pizza, and a good burger with our Belgian Farmhouse (928 Local) is amazing as well. The earthiness of that beer accentuates the flavor of the burger.
What’s your biggest accomplishment unrelated to your job?
Unrelated to my day job as an engineer would be successfully starting up what most people think is sheer insanity, a 3-barrel packaging brewery. I hear from people all the time that it's inspiring to see what I do, and that keeps me motivated and coming back for more at the brewery. Unrelated to my brewing job would be that I've had a hand in designing several life-saving medical devices over the last several years. It's a great feeling to know that some of the products I've had a hand in designing are being used to save lives every day.
What’s your favorite beer that your brewery does not produce?
That's a really tough one. I love all of the stuff I've had from Russian River, especially their Belgian and barrel-aged beers, and I have a soft spot for anything Belgian and strong (a lot of the Trappist beers make regular appearances in my fridge). I guess asking what's my favorite would depend on what's on tap wherever I'm drinking that evening!
What’s the most memorable travel destination at which you’ve had a chance to sample the local beer?
I've been to Brussels and drank at the Delirium bar, which is an amazing experience that I would highly recommend to any beer enthusiast, but it's actually a different experience that sticks out in my mind. The time I'm thinking of was an evening at Gosenschenke in Liepzig, Germany. I happened to be in Liepzig for business and one evening I decided to try and find some Gose (a German beer brewed with salt and coriander that is only available in Liepzig). I took a cab to the place, and it was the typical movie scene of a rainy night and the cab driver drops you off in front of a nondescript building in a foreign country and speeds off. It actually took me a few minutes to find the door to the place as it was basically in a neighborhood. I went into the little restaurant and sat down for some dinner and a beer. After dinner, I moved to the bar to let some other tourists have my table, and ended up sitting down next to a couple of locals, one of whom worked there and was off that night. We ended up spending the next three hours drinking our fill of Gose and becoming quite good friends. It was an incredible evening, and the taste of that beer is forever linked to that experience in that little bar in Liepzig.