Kevin McGee

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

I’m the owner, brewer, sanitation engineer, and everything else at the brewery, which is a nano—I make about 25 barrels a year. I got involved in craft brewing through the illogical extension of some things I was learning in my day job, which is in the wine industry. I was deeply involved in business planning and strategy for a fairly large wine producer, and at the same time I had gone fairly far down the rabbit hole of brewing geekdom. I eventually came home and penciled out a brewery that paid me to have fun and make beer. My wife and I kicked the idea around a bit and Healdsburg Beer Company [in Healdsburg, Calif.] was born.

What’s new at Healdsburg Beer Co.?

Well, we are in our third year, which is a big deal for an operation like ours. We also just received a silver for Blonde/Golden Ales and bronze in Porter at the U.S. Open Beer Championships, which follows up our bronze last year for our English-style IPA—so now all three of our year-round brews have bling. Also, we’ll be releasing a third anniversary ale this summer. The working title is “H Cubed,” and it is a riff on a Belgian tripel.

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

Far and away, it’s the people. Every brewer I’ve met has been generous with time, advice, and humor, and the fans of the brewery are spectacular. The whole community and culture of craft brew is unbelievable and like nothing I’ve seen anywhere else.

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

I like to cook for my wife, play hockey, hike with the dog, and hang out with my three-year-old daughter and listen to her tell me stories.

What’s your favorite food and beer pairing?

Cheeseburger and pale ale—there’s elegance in the classics.

What’s your biggest accomplishment unrelated to brewing?

Probably the biggest thing was that I spent about eight years as a gang violence prosecutor and also taught other California prosecutors trial tactics and law specific to gang cases (I’m a lawyer when not brewing). I’ve written a few laws and negotiated their passage in a few different states. I also started an artisan foods business for my day job and I’ve planted one of the world’s largest Perigord truffle production orchards in California. Beyond all that, I somehow found the most awesome person on the planet and convinced her to marry me.

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

Anything by Moonlight Brewing, Jolly Pumpkin, Saint Somewhere, Pretty Things, or Russian River Brewing. I’m also a sucker for a well-put-together Belgian (or Belgian-style) golden or tripel.

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

Dubai. I somehow struck up a friendship with a Scottish ex-pat who (rather illegally) made his own beer. Barely drinkable, but memorable.

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