What’s your current position at your brewery, and how did you get started in the craft brewing industry?
I am vice president and executive brewmaster [at Great Dane Pub & Brewing Co. in Madison, Wis.]. I started as a homebrewer while in college, and my first big break came when I got a job as an assistant at Triple Rock Brewery in Berkeley in early 1989. I then went to Siebel, class of 1989. After playing the traveling brewer for a few years, a college buddy and I were able to start our own place in Madison.
What’s new at Great Dane?
Being a brewpub with 16 beers on tap means there is always something new in terms of beer offerings, but we are particularly proud of our advancements in the cask ale and Belgian beer categories.
What’s the best part of being a part of the craft brewing community?
It’s no secret that craft brewing is one of the most vibrant industries that exists today. It’s great to be in a line of work where the only limits are your own imagination, and to have a public that is receptive to your creativity brings it all together.
What do you like to do in your time away from the brewery?
My family defines me, and I’m trying to enjoy my two sons, Lucas and Cole, as much as possible before I become a nuisance to them. Throw in a little golf (my wife may have something to say about the word “little”), and I’m good.
What’s your favorite food and beer pairing?
Oddly enough, I don’t really drink much beer while eating. I’m Italian, so I go more for the vino—red, of course. If I do have beer with food, it’s usually something stronger and/or eccentric, like a Belgian with appetizers or tapas—anything that keeps the taste buds guessing. A pilsner and a hot pretzel would probably be my “stranded on a desert island” combo.
What’s your biggest accomplishment unrelated to your job?
Raising two awesome boys, although that probably has more to do with favorable star alignment when their DNA came together than anything I have done.
What’s your favorite beer that your brewery does not produce?
Autumnal Fire from Kirby Nelson at Capital Brewery in Wisconsin. It’s an Oktoberfest brewed to the strength of a doppelbock, and it’s awesome!
What’s the most memorable travel destination at which you’ve had a chance to sample the local beer?
We try to take our brewers on a great beer trip every few years, so there are a few that need to be mentioned. “Researching” cask ales in Britain, having Pilsner Urquell at the source in Plzen, and going to the first Belgian Brewers Festival in Brugges were all remarkable events. We’re looking at a trip to Germany this fall, so hopefully there are more great memories to come.