What’s your current position at your brewery?
My current position at Pedernales Brewing Company [in Fredericksburg, Texas] is master brewer, VP production, and co-owner.
How did you get started in the craft brewing industry?
A hobby gone bad! Living in the Alaska bush, in an 8X20 sq. ft. cabin, 100 miles north of the Arctic Circle, I made my first batch of beer on a wood-burning stove (1982). This was an act of desperation! We had no alcohol for months. It became a regular hobby. Several years later, while living in Flagstaff, Ariz., I engineered and built a great little homebrew system that took over my two-car garage and produced 15 gallons a week (24 barrels a year). It was too much beer for me to consume (back then!) so I gave it to my friends. Soon they pushed me to turn professional.
What's new at Pedernales Brewing?
Our next seasonal special bier (draft only) is Dunkle Weizen. We have ordered several new fermentation tanks to boost our production 40 percent. In the next few months we plan to be in Arizona, Colorado, and Louisiana.
What’s the best part of being a part of the craft brewing community?
This is difficult to describe and others before me have done a better job at conveying, on paper, what it is like. Only the brewers will truly know what I mean when I tell you that there is no better profession or place in this world to be than in the throes of passion that encompass the everyday lives of these people.
What do you like to do in your time away from the brewery?
Yesterday it was being a bush pilot in Alaska, mountain climbing, ice climbing, river running, backcountry skiing, trail running, hiking and backpacking, fishing, and sleeping under the stars. Today I ride my '01 Fat Boy Harley every day, and enjoy fly fishing, hiking, national and international travel, beer and wine, and finding the best and most unique foods.
Name a favorite food and beer pairing.
A Bavarian-style hefeweizen and a tableside, hand-tossed Caesar salad. Lots of anchovies.
What’s your biggest accomplishment unrelated to brewing?
There are no statues or plaques with my name engraved, and probably will never be. But one experience will live with me forever. I was a paramedic for eight years. An 80-year-old lady had a heart attack. The cardiac monitor showed "flatline.” While I prepared the shock paddles I looked at her, looked up, then said to her, “It is not time yet.” I administered the shock (and lots of drugs) and her cardiac rhythm came back. She lived another four or five years, at her own house, and walked every day.
What’s your favorite beer that your brewery does not produce?
Dan Carey makes a cherry beer at New Glarus for which I have yet to find an equal.
What’s the most memorable travel destination at which you've had a chance to drink the local beer?
1985 in Freising, Germany at the Weihenstephan Brauerei. My first taste of hefeweizen began a lifelong passion for this style. Because of this beer style, I met my wife Jane and we have been in love with hefeweizen and each other for over 20 years.