What’s your current position at your brewery, and how did you get started in the craft brewing industry?
I’m the owner of Dust Bowl Brewing Company, which was launched in May 2009 in Turlock, Calif. I’d been a teacher and coach for over 20 years and had been thinking of a new challenge. I’d always been interested in microbrews and was already bouncing ideas about Dust Bowl Brewing Company around in my head. One day I opened our local paper and read an article about a local guy, Don Oliver, who had won the 2006 Samuel Adams Longshot homebrew competition. We got together soon after. Our shared passion and dream became quite apparent. I hired Don as my brewmaster. We worked together for about a year before the official launch of Dust Bowl and the introduction of our first beer, Hops of Wrath India Pale Ale. It’s been an adventure so far, to say the least. Don’s expertise, creativity and enthusiasm are real assets. I come up with ideas and Don executes them…the relationship has worked well.
What’s new at Dust Bowl?
We recently doubled our capacity to produce 1,200 barrels annually. We introduced our second beer, Old Wire, about two months ago. It’s a pale ale featuring English specialty malts nicely balanced with American hops. Right now we’re test marketing it with our key draft accounts and hope to offer 22-ounce bottles soon. We’re also working on a filtered wheat beer that we will test out soon called Hobo.
What’s the best part of being a part of the craft brewing community?
It’s a collaborative and supportive community. I think we all share such a strong passion for what we do. I really like the way brewers appreciate the efforts of others. For me it’s such a work environment shift—there’s really no limit on creativity. If you have an idea or want to try something new, no one can tell you no.
What do you like to do in your time away from the brewery?
My wife and I have three boys, so they keep us pretty busy. We enjoy sharing all their activities and love to travel when there’s time.
What’s your favorite food and beer pairing?
I love our Old Wire paired with Fiscalini Vintage Bandage Wrapped Cheddar. When I had the two together, it was one of those “meant to be” moments! (Fiscalini Cheese Co. is a local farmstead cheese company in Modesto, Calif.)
What’s your biggest accomplishment unrelated to your job?
I played college baseball and then coached different high school sports teams for 22 years during my teaching career. Mentoring kids and building relationships were the real benefits of the job. I’d like to think I had a positive influence in their lives. Most of my past students and athletes are old enough to drink, so maybe now they can give a little something back to me!
What’s your favorite beer that your brewery does not produce?
Mitchell’s Scottish Spice Ale—the complexity was there and the flavor profile was special. We will be doing one in the future, no doubt!
What’s the most memorable travel destination at which you’ve had a chance to sample the local beer?
My family and I were in Cape Town, South Africa last December. That’s where I had the Scottish Spice Ale at Mitchell’s Brewing on the waterfront. It had a casual European atmosphere…cool outdoor area…beautiful weather…a perfect setting for a great beer.