I tend to get my best ideas and most coherent thoughts while out on a run. After sticking my hand in many cookie jars throughout the work day, it’s my hour to just reflect (or realize I should have went to the bathroom before I stepped out the door) on what’s going on in my life. Last night while trying not to slip on ice and bust my ass/head/anything, I started to think about my craft beer family tree and how it led to where I am today in the beer community. With that, let me describe a little bit of my journey that found me in my most recent acquired position of Executive Director of the Kentucky Guild of Brewers.
Disclaimer: I know it’s Kentucky, but no married cousins, twice-removed will be discussed. I’ll leave that to the parts where Scotty is from. During graduate school, for some odd reason I decided to pick up Dogfish Head Raisin De’Etre from a local liquor store. Then their 60 minute. Then Anchor Steam Christmas Ale, you know the one with a new tree on every years label. I was hooked on this ‘new’ beer that actually had character to it.
Then I moved back to Central Illinois. A craft beer wasteland. At the time, Goose Island never found its way south. Michelob, close enough. Throughout the year, I did everything I could to move back. Including signing up for a Ph.D. program just to get back (idiot).
In the Summer of 2008, I dropped an email to the school I was working for, packed up overnight and headed back to my Old Kentucky Home. Flanagans and O’Sheas were close to me, had a younger scene, and also had some decent beer. First Magic Hat #9. Then Schlafly Pumpkin (a lot). Many mixed six packs later. 3 Floyds Dreadnaught. Avery Maharaja. Then after getting the hop bug, I ordered a Hoptimus with dinner. I promptly transitioned my blog from running to craft beer and Kentucky Brew Review was born.
I did some reviews, wrote about some new things coming to Kentucky, but I needed a little more substance with my experimentation in homebrewing. A simple email was sent to New Albanian Brewing Company’s head brewer, David Pierce, and a bromance was born. Dave invited me to the brewery, had me pour beer at festivals, and opened up his wealth of brewing knowledge to me. The thing that really stuck out to me about Dave (well, besides his military constraints to haircuts and time) was the fact that he didn’t drink alcohol anymore. Yes, he still samples the worts and final samples, but you won’t find him
belly up muscle-blasted abs to a bar.
I respected that. Me and Pop, circa 2012. To be honest, if I had to pinpoint one person to thank for where I am in the craft beer world, it’s Mr. David Pierce. Whether it was my enthusiasm, thirst for knowledge, or strapping good looks, Pierce began introducing me to the local beer community like crazy. So yes, Pierce is to blame for all this. For arboreal reasons, Pierce is my stump.
My blog started to get a little bit popular. Through that, I started to meet other beer geeks. I met other bloggers like Tim Faith (head brewer/barrel man at New Holland) and Beau Walker & Eric Gibbons, formerly of Justdrinkbeer.com. Through Beau, I got an ‘in’ with Sam Cruz (we will discuss him later ::swoon::) and started making other connections with beer nerds via Beer Advocate (Stephen Hitron, Britton, Julio, Tim, Steve Mac, Mat, Mason, & Buck, etc….and many of these people are some of my really good friends today. Beer does that sometimes). I started writing for Beau’s website and then this new website came on the scene called Louisvillebeer.com (Founded by John Wurth and John Campbell at the time).
John Wurth threw out a lure and I bit to write for Louisvillebeer. We scheduled a meeting and Wurth was a little confused when I game him my address, probably because it was his old house in the Highlands. We’ve been holding hands ever since. And squirting stuff in each others mouth.
I quit writing Kentucky Brew Review and jumped on to help Mr. Wurth with writing, events, and keeping Scott Lykins out of trouble. Through Wurth, Pierce and Scotty, I began to infiltrate the craft beer scene. I started taking beer related trips, started working more and more beer festivals, and the inevitable, trading beer. One of Mr. Wurth’s and I’s first trips was visiting the owners of a new brewery called Against the Grain Brewery. Commence: Sam Cruz man-crush.
Since David Pierce is the stump, let’s refer to Sam as the trunk because most of my beer branches led back to him (not a phallic joke, I SWEAR). Not that Sam is the end-all-be-all of Louisville Craft Beer, rather he is the guy I connect with the most in the beer community. Maybe it’s our rude jokes, a shared love for High Life, or…wait…it’s just our perverse thought process/rude jokes. Hands down, Sam has taught me a lot in the past few years in regards to how to run a business, think about your craft, and most important, love what you do. Sam’s best asset is his honesty and his sweatpants. He also helps pimp out my Drunkwood, so that helps. Needless to say, thanks Sam.
Last but not least, I’d like to thank John Wurth and Scotty Lykins who’ve helped Louisvillebeer.com grow into what it’s become. I’m humbled.
If I didn’t name you, I just forgot or figured it’d be too damn long to read. Apologies, unless you’re Phil Dearner. #beardjealousy
Expect some big things coming from the KGB down the way including Enthusiast memberships, festivals, events, yada yada yada…feel free to email me anytime! As always, please drink responsibly.