Mark Sample

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

I have been employed with Left Hand Brewing in Longmont, Colo. for over five years and my business card currently reads Brewer/Packaging Manager/IT manager. I started racking beer in Boston for Harpoon as part of their brewer training program. I was exposed to all facets of their production and after a serendipitous layoff I flew to France and brewed beer with a chain of brewpubs in Paris, Bordeaux, Toulouse and Lisbon. Finally, I could not resist coming back to Colorado and have worked with Left Hand in all areas of production since.

What’s new at Left Hand?

We are going through a ton of changes throughout the brewery, but one special thing that I enjoy is a nitrogenation system (mind if I make up words?) that we have installed to produce our Milk Stout on nitrogen for mass distribution. It really lends to the style and mimics cask beer very well. The device itself utilizes advanced membrane technology that I am sure involves leprechauns. The beer is dangerously smooth and a beautiful libation.

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

It may be a bit cliché, but I love that we can work as a team. It is just undeniably unique that as an industry we can fight for such a small piece of an overall market share, yet still take time to help each other out. I have met incredible people that work in the field and patronize craft beer. Mostly I love the craft beer community for what we create, not just the beer but the social rewards of people coming together around something they enjoy.

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

I love to ski and hike with my wife and mutt. I love to cook with and without beer and drink beer with or without cooking. I enjoy sharing time with friends and family, riding anything behind a boat, reading any book I can get my hands on and watching baseball (GO ROCKIES!). I miss my motorcycle (long story).

What’s your favorite food and beer pairing?

If I am being asked what endless supply of one beer and food pairing I would take to a deserted island with no hope of rescue or an airdrop, then it has to be a  world class South German style Pilsner and my dad’s chocolate chip cookies.

What’s your biggest accomplishment unrelated to your job?

Well, this is bittersweet. I am the 2008 World Pond Skimming Champion. I let the fame undermine my natural instincts and in 2009 lost my title. We start training here in November.

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

I am assuming I have one beer to drink before an untimely death or sudden loss of esophageal function, interpreting that there are no time or location restraints and also remembering that a beer is way more than the liquid in the glass and the entire reason I work in the field is for what that liquid can create around it. Then my favorite beer that Left Hand does not produce would be an Inselhopf in a liter stein in the biergarten at the Hausbrauerei Feierling in Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany in the fall of 1998 with all my past, current, living and dead friends and family.

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

New Jersey. I am astounded by the amazing beer coming from my home state, and it doesn’t get more exotic than Jersey.

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