What’s your current position at your brewery, and how did you get started in the craft brewing industry?
I’m the head brewer at Smylie Brothers [in Evanston, Ill.]. Currently I oversee everything beer-related at the brewpub. I’ve worked for a number of breweries in the past, both larger production and smaller pub scale operations. What really got me into this industry was the idea of handcrafting a product that I was proud of and serving it to a consumer who will hopefully get the same joy out of it as I do.
What’s new at Smylie Brothers?
We’re in the planning stages of an offsite production facility, Smylie Brothers Draft and Package. The location is about a mile-and-a-half south of our current pub in Evanston, and will consist of a 30bbl Sprinkman brewhouse and kegging and canning operations. It will produce our flagship beers along with seasonal offerings. We’ll have a taproom that opens up into the production space and a seriously epic beer garden.
What’s the best part of being a part of the craft brewing community?
The coolest part of our community is that it’s populated by so many great people. I get to meet people on a regular basis who are so enthusiastic about craft beer and where our industry is headed. I’m constantly reminded of why craft beer, and craft brewing, is so exciting.
Name a favorite food and beer pairing.
I love cheese. All of the cheeses. So much cheese. Our Farmhouse Ale has proven to be the ultimate cheese pairing beer. We have a cheese menu in our restaurant, and every time we change up cheeses we throw Farmhouse at them. We have yet to find a cheese that does not go fantastically with Farmhouse. One of my favorites has been a semi-hard aged gouda. Both the cheese and beer were so pronounced yet delicately balanced and went so perfectly together.
What’s your biggest accomplishment unrelated to your job?
I’m super proud of my family. My wife and I have been raising our two kids, age 8 and 4, to be great human beings. I figure if I’m contributing to our population, it’s my duty to raise the best people possible—real contributors to our world.
What’s your favorite beer that your brewery does not produce?
While spending time in Munich, Germany, I fell in love with Augustiner, particularly their Helles. There’s something so balanced and downright perfect about that style, and Augustiner does it spectacularly.
What’s the most memorable travel destination at which you’ve had a chance to sample the local beer?
I have to say Bavaria has been my all-time favorite beer destination. I’ve visited a number of Trappist breweries and have so much respect for what they do, but the Bavarians have this beer thing down pat. The precision that goes into every batch of beer, along with the overall friendly camaraderie of the culture there, makes for a perfect setting for a beer amongst friends new and old.
What do you like to do in your time away from the brewery?
I spend so much time working on and tinkering with brewery ideas, but outside of that I spend all of my time hanging out with my family and getting outdoors as much as possible. We love camping and hiking, but even exploring our city of Chicago is an absolute blast.