What’s your current position at your brewery, and how did you get started in the craft brewing industry?
I am the founder, CEO, and head brewer [at Mystery Brewing Co. in Hillsborough, N.C.] I got into the craft brewing industry through the roundest of roundabout routes. Sure, I was a homebrewer like 99 percent of the rest of the industry, but I introduced myself to the industry through writing, primarily via my blog at TopFermented.com. It was a great way to learn about the business side of the industry without actually being immersed in it. I got to meet some great people doing it, and it made the jump into the industry as a brewer and owner much less intimidating.
What’s new at Mystery Brewing?
We’re approaching our one-year anniversary. We just signed a statewide distribution deal in North Carolina, and we’re just about to open up a new taproom space. On top of that, we’ll be brewing our spring beer lineup soon. Everything’s coming up Milhouse.
What’s the best part of being a part of the craft brewing community?
The people. I like to tell people outside of the industry that it is the most congenial industry that I’ve ever been a part of. It’s rare that I feel like I have competitors; more, compatriots.
What do you like to do in your time away from the brewery?
I play volleyball and softball (go Ghost Riders!), but I also spend a fair amount of time playing video games like the nerd that I am.
What’s your favorite food and beer pairing?
In general, I tend toward beer and cheese. Within that, the first beer and cheese pairing that really blew me away was a creamy Muenster with a hoppy IPA. The creaminess of the cheese wipes the hops off of your palate, the carbonation lifts the creaminess out of your mouth, and it’s just a beautiful moment all around.
What’s your biggest accomplishment unrelated to your job?
I wrote a book, North Carolina Craft Beer & Breweries. Having my own book published, a book tour, and all the accoutrements that come with that were pretty darn awesome.
What’s your favorite beer that your brewery does not produce?
Mainly, I like the beer in the glass in front of me. If I was forced to choose, I have a weakness for most of the beer that Allagash makes and pretty much everything from Jolly Pumpkin, ever.
What’s the most memorable travel destination at which you’ve had a chance to sample the local beer?
A little brewpub in rural Maine. I was driving up to Quebec City to visit my father and taking a roundabout route up Route 16 through Western Maine when I passed by a small sign on the side of the road that read simply, “brewpub.” My wife and I enjoyed a wonderful little sampler platter of beers at the Kennebec River Brewery, in a gorgeous setting on a sunny afternoon in the Maine woods in a place I never would have suspected a brewery. Was it the fanciest or the most sought after brewery? No. But it was great beer, in a beautiful place, at the right time, and definitely ranks amongst the most memorable places I’ve had a beer. It was beautiful.