Monthly Archives: May 2012

A trip 5 years in the making

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It seems like just yesterday, that my brother had one of his crazy ideas. You know those what if, silly ideas  for a product  or movie that you talk about but no one ever really acts on. On this day it was different it was an idea for a beer, what is the idea you ask? Well that is top secret, but don‘t worry that’s not important what is important is that day something came of it, we decided to act. It was day one. Some people have a near death experience, some get fed with their current job and quit randomly one day, but for me it was much more subtle, I didn’t know this day was so prolific so life altering until years later.

I was 20 at the time, with some research we found out you can make beer at home pretty cheap. We went on E-bay, bought our first homebrew kit and began learning the art of making beer. At the time I personally was at a crossroad and after Fall 2007 I dropped out of UNR. I knew two things when I dropped out: one, I wanted to make beer for a living and two, I had no idea how I was going to make that a reality.  Fast forward  a few months, I had three jobs: one at a gas station, one at a smoothie shop and bartending one night a week with my sister in law. During this time I had time to think and I figured well if I am going to own a brewery one day I need to learn how to run a business. Thus I started back to school this time with a goal. Fast forward a few years it is the summer of 2011, I am a year out from graduating from UNR and my brother left his job to work for High Sierra Brewing Company. Fast forward to April 27, 2012  and we get to the topic of this post.

My brother Jeff and I were at Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. for the MBAA spring technical meeting. During the drive from Carson City to Chico it hit us just how far we had come, my brother had made the leap to professional brewer, I finished college in a few weeks and we were at one of the god father breweries of the American craft beer revolution  rubbing elbows with guys like Russian River and Bear Republic. It was hard to keep our excitement in check but we played it cool.

The meeting was awesome it was in Sierra Nevada’s “Big Room” and it covered things like how to properly care for oak barrels and the different techniques for dry hopping. The dry hop portion was my favorite part, they put together a panel with brewers from Sierra Nevada, Moylan’s, Russian River and Bear Republic. The best part was it gave you an idea of how it is done from the big guys down to the pub brewers. For example Sierra Nevada uses their “Torpedo” that gets packed full of hops and gets beer pumped through it to get the aroma from dry hopping and Moylan’s just opens the top of their fermentation tank and dumps in the hops.

Dry hop panel

A Torpedo

Outside of the meeting, the trip was awesome just to get to check out a brewery like Sierra Nevada. The amount of detail that they put into the brewery is amazing, down to the art on the tiles. They also offer up a wide array of ways to be more sustainable boasting hydrogen fuel cells and solar panels. The place is truly incredible, I could tell the amount of pride and commitment employees had for the brewery.  Which most likely comes from how well they are treated as employees, I mean they have a doctor on staff one day a week employees can see for free. Now that is rad.

Big Foot bathroom tile

The trip served as a reminder of the work my brother and I have put in as well as the work we have to go. Now it is time to find a job working for a brewery and that is easier said than done but just as the last five years it is just a matter of putting one foot in front of the other and it will surely come. This weekend we head to Anderson Valley for a brew fest and you can bet I will have my business card waiting in my pocket ready to handout to anyone hiring. The day will come where just like I set out to do five short years ago, that I will indeed work in a brewery for my living.