What’s your current position at your brewery, and how did you get started in the craft brewing industry?
I am the president of Tuckahoe Brewing Company [in Ocean View, N.J.], and one of its four founding partners. My partners and I have been friends and co-workers for the past 10 years (teaching at the same high school in South Jersey), and have been brewing together for almost as long. Aside from the obvious pleasures of drinking great beer, each of us appreciates the way beer brings people together, and enjoys the “culture” of beer. We decided to turn our passion for beer into a fulltime business venture in the fall of 2010. The process of choosing a location, getting licensed, and setting up shop took about a year; we are fully licensed as of December 2011.
What’s new at Tuckahoe?
We opened with a new, 3-barrel system manufactured by Psycho Brew. We’re very happy with its performance thus far. Probably the biggest news since we got our license is our relationship with Harrison Beverage. Harrison is one of New Jersey’s most successful distributors, and they picked us up a few weeks after we were licensed. We are brewing to capacity, about seven barrels a week, and Harrison is taking care of getting our beer out there and into people’s hands. Harrison is the local distributor for Anheuser Busch, but they are also committed to promoting and supporting craft beer. Everyone at Harrison has helped us get off to a great start.
What’s the best part of being a part of the craft brewing community?
The best part of the craft brewing community is just that, the community itself. Nobody holds out on anyone; everybody works together to support each other. I can’t think of another industry whose members share their secrets and give each other tips the way craft brewers do. Look at the BA Forum: people are asking questions and posting their needs every day, and there is never a shortage of responses. We have reached out to other small brewers for advice on technical issues and had no problem getting information. Even the big guys are helpful. Bill Rauner from Sierra Nevada contacted us a few weeks after we were licensed just to offer support. This type of community does not exist in any other industry.
What do you like to do in your time away from the brewery?
I still surf every chance I get, and I enjoy going to my daughters’ field hockey, basketball, and lacrosse games. Both are in high school, and as a former coach, I genuinely enjoy the atmosphere of high school sports.
What’s your biggest accomplishment unrelated to brewing?
I’m proud to say that I’ve been a member of the teaching profession for the past 20 years.
What’s your favorite food and beer pairing?
I enjoy Mexican food, and I’ve had some great meals travelling and surfing in Mexico and Central Mexico. One of the best meals I’ve ever had was freshly caught lobster cooked over a fire on the beach on the Baja Peninsula, enjoyed with a few bottles of Negra Modelo. That was a great meal, even though the nearest kitchen was miles away.
What’s the most memorable travel destination at which you’ve had a chance to sample the local beer?
On a surf trip to Nova Scotia, I had a few bottles of Propeller Brewing’s Extra Special Bitter after a great day in the water. I had some great surf in a very scenic setting, the locals were friendly, and the beer was outstanding. It was the perfect ending to a great day. That beer captured the experience I had that day; I still have the empty bottle. One of my dreams is to travel to Belgium on a beer and surf trip (everyone knows about the beer in Belgium, and there is surf on the North Sea). Having a genuine Belgian tripel in Belgium after getting out of the water would be a moment not to be forgotten.