I’ve learned more about beer since starting at Great Raft in 2015 than I ever thought there was to know. I didn’t know much about beer when I applied for the position of Tasting Room Manager at Great Raft Brewing. Hell, the only thing I could confidently say I knew about Great Raft was that Reasonably Corrupt had quickly become one of my favorite beers. Luckily, Andrew and Lindsay could see that I was at the beginning of what has become an amazing “beer journey.”
To celebrate my 30th birthday I asked my wife, Danielle, to ask me a few questions about my beer journey and what’s to come.
What’s your best beer memory from your first 30 years?
The week I accepted the job at Great Raft I came over with some friends and family to grab a beer and meet some of my future coworkers. Andrew and Lindsay took the time to show us around and answer all my questions. Andrew did one of his favorite things and pulled some fresh beer off a tank for me to try. It was then and there that beer changed forever for me.
What’s your favorite Great Raft tasting room memory?
I managed the tasting room from April of 2015 until the beginning of this year so there are plenty to choose from. In 2016 we had a group of Canadian tourists stop in to try our beer out and take a tour of the brewery. Maybe it was just how nice they all were, but that day jumps out at me. Jesse still has lapel pin they gave us to say thanks for showing them around.
How has GRB grown since you’ve been on board – and how have you grown personally?
The biggest thing that I’ve learned about myself is that I was meant to be in the service industry. I love people and thankfully enough, GRB has given me the opportunity to be myself and turn folks into craft beer drinkers.
From my first day until now Great Raft has grown tremendously. We’ve not only grown our distribution reach but have also grown our roots deeper. The importance of growing deep and owning our own backyard is something that Andrew always brings to the forefront and reminds us of.
Beer has taken you on some incredible trips. What’s your favorite beer destination so far?
Without a doubt the trip that Danielle and I took to Portland, Maine in May of 2018 was my favorite. Some of the most amazing beer, food, and sights that I’ve ever seen.
What’s one beer that you’ve tried that you wish you could get all the time?
Union Craft Brewing in Baltimore has a wheat IPA called Steady Eddie. Nothing crazy about it, but man, I think about that beer all the time. I could settle for a lifetime supply of Allagash White though if you made me.
What’s your current favorite Great Raft beer that’s on tap in the tasting room?
We just dropped an amazing batch of Farmhouse Slang. This most recent release features the Japanese hop, Sorachi Ace. Notes of lemon, pear, and dill that will fade over time and form the perfect marriage with the Brettanomyces. I can’t wait to cellar a few bottles and see how it’s changed over the coming months.
If you could drink one beer with anyone in the industry, who would it be and why?
We gain a ton of inspiration from other breweries, so this is a tough question to answer. Brewmaster for Brooklyn Brewery, Garrett Oliver, is at the top of the list for me. He has an ability to breakdown beer and make it understandable for everyone. Doesn’t hurt that he makes fantastic beer.
What beer destination is next on your list?
The northwest is uncharted territory for me. Before too long I’d like to get to Washington, Oregon, and northern California to see the hop fields and share a pint with the brilliant folks brewing up there.
What’s something that you would tell somebody that is just getting into craft beer?
Drink what you like. We all get too caught up in ratings and reviews by folks that we don’t even know. Don’t let yourself not find your favorite beer because someone else said they didn’t like it.
Also, know what you’re drinking. There are a ton of faux craft breweries out there that are owned by macro breweries. Wherever you find yourself, I hope you have a local beer in hand.