What’s your current position at your brewery, and how did you get started in the craft brewing industry?
I am co-founder, president, and brewmaster [at Ale Asylum in Madison, Wis.] I began my love affair with brewing in the late 80s after realizing that my empty pockets would not buy me the craft beer I loved to drink. Being a math and science geek, I realized that I could use the method of deduction to precisely brew recipes that I was drawn to as a craft beer enthusiast. After gaining some experience in Colorado, I accepted the position of brewmaster for the now-closed Angelic Brewing Company, where I met Ale Asylum co-founder Otto Dilba. We branched out to start our own craft brewery and opened our doors May 19, 2006.
What’s new at Ale Asylum?
In September 2012, we moved into our new brewery space, a free-standing 45,000-square-foot building. Since then, we have undergone several equipment expansions, including the recent purchase of one 400 bbl fermenter, one 400 bbl conditioning vessel, and a 400 bbl brite tank, which are all dedicated to our flagship beer Hopalicious American Pale Ale. In February, we crossed the Wisconsin state line and opened up our distribution channel to the state of Illinois. In April of this year we released our first new bottled beer in four years, Unshadowed Hefeweizen.
What’s the best part of being a part of the craft brewing community?
First of all, I love that the word “community” is attached to this industry. We’re all in this together! I also love the way the general public is embracing the craft brewing community for what we do.
What do you like to do in your time away from the brewery?
My favorite thing is to explore the wilderness of lesser-traveled countries with my wife, who shares my affinity for finding these gems. My other two hobbies include cooking healthy food and racking up as many miles on my bicycle as possible.
What’s your favorite food and beer pairing?
I like to say that all good food pairs perfectly with good beer. My favorite match would be a hoppy beer with a spicy curry dish or Mexican food prepared with cilantro. My most unusual pairing was sushi with our Bamboozleator Doppelbock.
What’s your biggest accomplishment unrelated to your job?
Tricking the prettiest girl in the world to fall in love with me and marry me would be number one. A little known anecdote is that I played bass for a band called Vermin that opened for Slayer in the 80s. Apparently, I was in the right garage band at the right time!
What’s your favorite beer that your brewery does not produce?
I really enjoy a good Märzen or witte. One of my favorite beers is Nugget Nectar by Tröegs Brewing. The way that this beer showcases Nugget hops is amazing. This beer is aggressive, clean, and everything I like in a beer.
What’s the most memorable travel destination at which you’ve had a chance to sample the local beer?
I had this really good banana beer in Tanzania, one of those brew it on Monday and drink it on Wednesday…before it gets too sour! A few years ago, my wife and I were travelling in Guyana and found a brewery, Banks, that makes tight, disciplined German lagers. How surreal and refreshing it was to drink beers like that in a small banana republic in the Amazon rain forest!