What’s your current position at your brewery, and how did you get started in the craft brewing industry?
I am president of Nebraska Brewing Co. [in Papillion, Neb.] and find myself concentrating on marketing and outside sales. As much as I can, I lend some creativity to our lead brewer, Tyson. He doesn’t really need it, but I lend it anyway. I got started on the kitchen stove in 1992. Back then, a can and a packet of yeast were all it took to fuel the passion.
What’s new at Nebraska Brewing Co.?
Our barrel-aged Reserve Series has done quite well and our most recent release, BA Hop God, sold out in short order. Distribution to the coasts is the current target—we’re still a brewpub but we’ve got capacity and a great product line. We feel it’s time to branch out a little.
What’s the best part of being a part of the craft brewing community?
I think the best part is that there’s this fan base that is not only completely supportive but there to drive you on. Believe it or not, it’s not all roses, and when you find yourself in the company of other like-minded people it’s hard not to smile through a tough day. I get to wake up almost every day eager to drive somewhere we’ve not been before.
What do you like to do in your time away from the brewery?
Yeah, this is one of those little questions that looks for the life outside the job. I feel very fortunate that there is no separation. My family is there to cheer me on—my wife steers the brewpub while I get to devote a couple brain cells to strategy. The only real difference to me, being in the brewpub or not, is that I get to hug the kids at home.
What’s your favorite food and beer pairing?
A rule violator: you ask for one, I give you two. I’d have to say the most interesting one I’ve had was our IPA with a carrot curry soup—a bold IPA and a very spicy soup. Together, the heat came off and the IPA went toward candy. Bizarre in a truly cool way. The other was one of our Reserve Series beers, Melange a Trois, a strong Belgian blonde ale aged in Chardonnay barrels for six months. In a hallucinogenic moment, we decided to pair it up with mako shark for one of the most unusual, rich and uniquely flavored pairings I’ve ever experienced. Our chef, Adam, got a standing ovation at the end of a 50-seat pairing dinner for that one. We’re still waiting for the next shark to swim by…
What’s your biggest accomplishment unrelated to your job?
I also have a patent in telecommunications. Most of us had a day job before we found our calling. I’ve been fortunate to go from one job that I enjoy into another that I enjoy more.
What’s your favorite beer that your brewery does not produce?
Not to be all Nebraska-bent but there are some good beers here that haven’t yet found the public eye. Thunderhead Brewing in Kearney makes a braggot called Tiny Tim. It’s a seasonal and if you’re in the area around the holidays, it is freakin’ fantastic. Trevor was kind enough to stash a growler of it for me a couple years ago and I swear it must be how Alice begins the adventure.
What’s the most exotic travel destination at which you’ve had a chance to sample the local beer?
I’m going to break the rules again—while not exactly exotic, our family took a summer vacation a few years back, just as the brewpub was about to open. We hit Colorado and packed in more brewpubs and breweries in a week than most people get to hit in months. The kids weren’t exactly enamored with our daily destinations until we strung together New Belgium and Dillon Dam. The packaging guys at New Belgium had a slow day on their hands and began flinging keg caps at us, which sparked the fun. My oldest son Dylan has never let the whole Get Your Own Dam Beer thing wear off from Dillon. I think we created those moments that they’ll tell their kids about, and it’s based in what I enjoy the most.