James Nicholson

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What’s your current position at your brewery, and how did you get started in the craft brewing industry?  

I am Mystic Brewery’s [Boston, Mass.] founding brewer. I began my career as a walk-on at Capitol City Brewing Company in Arlington, Va. delivering kegs, and quickly moved to the brewhouse where I cut my pro brewing teeth. I met Mystic’s founder, Bryan Greenhagen, at the 2009 Craft Brewers Conference in Boston, helped him with the business plan, and soon moved up to Boston to get the project going.

What’s new at Mystic?

Everything. We just bottled our first two batches of Mystic Saison, which is now conditioning in the warm room. Another fermenter is rolling with our dark Belgian, and we even have a few full oak barrels happily glugging away.

What’s the best part of being a part of the craft brewing community?

The sense of a real community. Moving from my familiar Mid-Atlantic brewing community to a new one in New England was a breeze with all of the welcome feelings I received from fellow brewers. It’s extremely comforting to see the countless regional and national events allowing brewing circles to get to know each other and share ideas, which promotes a strong community.

What do you like to do in your time away from the brewery?

Like many brewers, I enjoy working with my hands, so I garden, make bread and ice cream, and generally just cook a lot. Then I share it all with friends.

What’s your favorite food and beer pairing?

Having lived in Germany for a couple of years, I’m a sucker for German fare, so a clovey hefeweizen with Spaezle and sausage hits the spot.

What’s your biggest accomplishment unrelated to your job?

I grew up in the sticks, lived in three major cities on the eastern seaboard and “over the pond” for a while—and for as much as I’ve seen, I feel like I’m not even close to finished experiencing other cultures and places.

What’s your favorite beer that your brewery does not produce?

Fullers ESB.

What’s the most memorable travel destination at which you’ve had a chance to sample the local beer?

Brauerei Märkl in Freudenberg, Germany, where I did a short internship. The beer was fantastic and only distributed within a 10-mile radius of the brewery.

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