What’s your current position at your brewery, and how did you get started in the craft brewing industry?
I am head brewer and owner [at Nantahala Brewing Co. in Bryson City, N.C.] After homebrewing for 15 years and being heavily involved in the local Atlanta homebrew club and the BJCP, fate brought me to a startup operation in the brewing friendly state of North Carolina. My partners and I literally built the brewery from the ground up. In addition to my brewing boots, I’ve worn the hat of plumber, painter, electrician, builder and accountant.
What’s new at your brewery?
Everything! We have been brewing since May 2010. We are still finishing the build-out of the bar for the tasting room which will showcase all of our regular beers and special releases. Our most recent batch was an Extra Pale Ale focusing on Citra hops. So far we’ve brewed 300 bbls and featured 10 different styles.
What’s the best part of being a part of the craft brewing community?
The camaraderie of the brewing community is unlike any other industry. Mutual respect and support contribute to a unique community of breweries of all sizes. Despite being in an isolated area of western North Carolina, we were welcomed by our Asheville neighbors into their Brewers Alliance. This tight-knit group of 13 breweries is supported by a city of less than 100,000 and we are thankful for their acceptance. Craft brewers have a special and close connection with their consumers and it is always a rewarding experience for a complete stranger to personally tell you that they love your beer.
What do you like to do in your time away from the brewery?
I’ve got another full-time job, but try to catch as many Auburn football games as possible.
What’s your favorite food and beer pairing?
I could survive on beer and cheese, specifically an aggressive IPA and a true Parmesano Reggiano.
What’s your biggest accomplishment unrelated to your job?
Opening and running the brewery while maintaining my primary job in Atlanta, which for now pays the bills.
What’s your favorite beer that your brewery does not produce?
New Glarus Belgian Red.
What’s the most memorable travel destination at which you’ve had a chance to sample the local beer?
Portland, Oregon. Early on in my homebrewing career, I took a trip to Portland and the experience changed my brewing perspective forever. The trip was an exploration into styles that were not available in the South. I was inspired to embrace the world of hops. The heavily saturated brewing community of Portland was an encouragement on how even incredibly small breweries can succeed with strong local support.