What’s your current position at your brewery, and how did you get started in the craft brewing industry?
I am co-founder and hype man at 8th Wonder Brewery [in Houston, Texas]. I handle marketing, branding, communications, and PR-related matters for 8th Wonder. I started homebrewing in college in New Orleans. I moved back to Houston and met one of my business partners, Aaron Corsi, in graduate school. He was a teacher’s assistant (now professor) for a brewing, winemaking, and distilling class at the University of Houston. My other business partner, Alex Vassilakidis, and I started a separate business, Eatsie Boys Intergalactic Food Truck. From that humble truck, Alex and I raised funds and partnered with Aaron to start 8th Wonder Brewery.
What’s new at 8th Wonder?
We have a new canning line from Wild Goose that will begin operations before year’s end. We recently installed eight new fermenters. We are also expanding our taproom and creating an outdoor beer garden and music venue dubbed 8th WonderWorld.
What’s the best part of being a part of the craft brewing community?
The best thing about the craft beer community is just that: the community! We love the competitive yet collaborative camaraderie among brewers. In addition, we love connecting and interacting with the community and neighborhood surrounding 8th Wonder and throughout the city of Houston. Historically, communities were formed around breweries, and it’s nice to see that still happening today.
Name a favorite food and beer pairing.
Call me boring, but I love cheese, and I love beer. There’s something simplistically satisfying about a good cheese and beer pairing. Plus, it’s on the lighter side, so you can enjoy plenty of beer!
What’s your biggest accomplishment unrelated to brewing?
Marrying my wife, Rima. She is the best thing that ever happened to me, and she’s totally out of my league. She’s smart, sweet, beautiful, and she loves beer! She’s also the catalyst that led me to pursue this wonderful brewing industry by showing me an ad for an internship for Coney Island Brewing Co. I applied and the next thing I knew I’m in New York doing all sorts of tasks for a fun brewery.
What’s your favorite beer that your brewery does not produce?
Locally, I really enjoyed Saint Arnold’s seasonal Icon Green, an Amarillo hefeweizen. Outside of Texas, I am a big fan of NOLA Brewing and their NOLA Funk Series’really nice sours and barrel-aged beers. Beyond the U.S., one of my all-time favorites is Leffe Blonde. This classic Belgian beer was one of the first beers I ever had that really left a lasting impression on me.
What do you like to do in your time away from the brewery?
While I feel like I’m always at the brewery (that isn’t a bad thing), I really love spending time with my wife, Rima, and my son, Saul, as well as our two dogs, Ziggy and Bea.
What’s the most memorable travel destination at which you’ve had a chance to sample the local beer?
Costa Rica. A shockingly beautiful country (rain forests, volcanoes, beaches) with amazing and friendly people, and a small but growing craft beer scene. I remember a tasty black IPA from PerroVida Brewing (a play on Costa Rica’s unofficial national slogan Pura Vida).