What’s your current position at your brewery, and how did you get started in the craft brewing industry?
I am head brewer at Natty Greene’s Pub and Brewing Co. in Raleigh, N.C. Where I got started is kind of a funny story, as I began my brewing career in the same building where I brew now. Thirteen years ago, I was waiting tables in college at a brewpub named Southend Brewing Co., which was located where I currently work. I began showing an interest in craft beers and started helping the brewer out whenever I could on a voluntary basis. It would eventually lead to an assistant’s job and help launch the best career anyone could ask for. Thirteen years later, I still have the same zeal I had when I brewed my first batch of beer.
What’s new at Natty Greene’s?
The best thing about my job is the fact that I get to play around all the time. We have seven seasonal taps in addition to our five core beers, so I get to come up with fun new recipes all the time. Currently, I am serving a habañero smoked porter using the peppers grown last summer in my garden. I also am really proud of my saison right now— it has just that right amount of “funk” to it.
What’s the best part of being a part of the craft brewing community?
People, people, people. I am proud to say—with no bias, of course—that North Carolina has the fastest growing craft beer community on the East Coast. It is so much fun to talk with people about craft brewing, whether to one of my fellow brewers or someone enjoying a pint at the bar. This state, and nation for that matter, has come a long way in its appreciation of good beer.
What do you like to do in your time away from the brewery?
I like to spend as much time with my fiancée, Heather, and my two dogs, Charlotte and Emma. The great thing about where we live is the proximity to the beach and the mountains. We can go hiking in the mountains or go strolling on the beach just about any weekend.
What’s your favorite food and beer pairing?
Recently I marinated beef tenderloin in the aforementioned habañero porter. I then seared and braised it, and served it with the porter. That was pretty good, but I really like to cook with beer, so that’s just the most recent example.
What’s your biggest accomplishment unrelated to your job?
Getting the most amazing woman to say yes.
What’s your favorite beer that your brewery does not produce?
I would have to go local and say Big Boss’ High Roller is up there for me. The other, less local, beer would have to be Petrus Aged Pale, or anything crisp and funky like that one.
What’s the most memorable travel destination at which you’ve had a chance to sample the local beer?
When I was just starting out in the “biz,” I got the chance to travel through Holland, Belgium, and Germany. It was the perfect inspiration for me; I literally tried every beer I could. One German bar had particular fun with me when I went down the list of beers. After ordering my third beer off their menu, I couldn’t help but notice all the bartenders laughing at me and pointing. Well, apparently all three had been non-alcoholic; obviously, I did not speak German. That funny experience aside, when I got back, I wanted to brew every style of beer I had tried. I really got on the head brewer’s nerves for a long while.