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Would you say you have any mentors?
Sure. My official mentor is a guy named Pete Schlossberg, who’s one of the founders of Pete’s Wicked Ale. Pete. He sold Pete’s Wicked years ago. He started a chocolate company and stayed around in the beer industry for awhile. So I got teamed up with Pete through the Clinton Foundation. They have a thing called the Entrepreneurs Mentoring Program, where they picked a bunch of entrepreneurs from all across America and teamed them up with industry leaders to mentor. I got selected and got teamed up with Pete, so all of last year and into this year we were able to work together and I learned a ton from him on all sorts of fronts.
Urban Peoples’ Common Lager and Burning Oak Black Lager
Then I would say Shaun O’Sullivan, the founder of 21st Amendment. He’s basically the reason I got my first job at Steelhead, because he was the head brewer at Steelhead, but it was about the time they were going to officially be opening 21st Amendment. He was transitioning out of Steelhead over to 21A. His assistant got bumped up to be the head brewer and I just happened to be the guy who walked through the door the day that his assistant found out he’d have to hire an assistant. I got lucky, and that’s how I got my first job in the beer industry. I got to work with Shaun for a couple months before he moved over to 21A. I was there the day the brewhouse was installed at 21A. It’s definitely the kind of stuff that young brewers who are planning to open their own place someday see and get a taste of what it would look and feel like. Shaun’s always been unbelievably generous and available in all the years that I’ve known him. 10 years, I guess.
Where and what do you like to drink when you’re not working?
Anything from Moonlight, I love to drink, particularly Death and Taxes, but I love ‘em all. Everything from Moonlight, I’m a pretty big fan of. I like the stuff that isn’t sour from Russian River. I know everybody likes the sour beers, but I’m a big fan of Blind Pig and even just the straight Russian Rivera IPA. Pliny’s not bad either, but for me, Blind Pig and the IPA are really nice. I’m a big fan of Lagunitas, huge fan of Magnolia out of San Francisco.
For me, I think Dave McLean is one of the guys that I stylize my role in this industry. I look at him in a lot of ways. It’s not just about making great beer. It’s about the quality of ingredients and just having your own style, and localism. He’s so plugged into the community. Anything from Magnolia I’m a big fan of.
I’m turning into a huge fan of all these San Diego beers. Ballast Point is amazing. AleSmith. Those guys are just doing incredible things down in San Diego too. I prefer a beer out of California nine times out of 10, but I’m pretty open to anything.
We’re getting stuff out of Massachusetts on the West Coast now called Pretty Things. Their saison, Jack D’or, is probably one of the best beers I’ve had all year. Typically, nine times out of 10 it’s California, but if it’s outside of California, hopefully it’s something I’ve never had before. That’s usually my favorite, trying stuff I’ve never seen or heard of before.
If you could only have one more beer, what would it be? And it can’t be yours.
If I could only have one more beer, wow, I would have to say, hmm, if I could just have one more beer, I would have to say it would probably be Moonlight Death and Taxes.
Where would you drink it?
I would drink it, ideally, it would probably be either Beer Revolution or the Trappist here in Oakland. Probably Trappist. It’s a little more quiet there.
If you’ve never been to the Trappist, you’ve got to check that out. It’s the most beautiful beer bar in Oakland, hands down. It’s gorgeous. Beer Rev is great because it’s just gritty, and it’s like City Beer meets Toronado. Real people hang out there, and really good beers, but Trappist, they spared no expense. The décor is incredible and it’s a beautiful bar for sure.
How do you manage to maintain balance in your life, if you’re able to?
Right now it’s really hard. With two small kids and a business that’s growing 20 – 30% per month, it’s darn near impossible. Luckily I think my military training helped me because I can work 18 hours a day and keep going. It’s a lot of that. I’m here from early in the morning to late in the afternoon and evening. Most days I leave before the kids wake up and I get home after they’ve gone to bed. Balance is leaning a little bit towards the brewery these days, but hopefully we’ll get to the point where we can grow to the point where we can start hiring people and I can get back to enjoying my family a little more.
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