What is your official title at Hop & Barrel?
Full-time taproom dude.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I show up in the morning, get the place ready to open, make sure the tap list is updated, design some artwork for new beers on the tap list, and pour everyone their beers!
How did you come to be a part of the Hop & Barrel team?
I came to be part of the H&B team from connections in the industry. I previously worked at Swinging Bridge Brewing Company in River Falls, WI. When they closed down in September (they have since reopened), I bounced around between a couple temporary jobs until my name came up to Justin. He reached out to me, I came in to interview, and it all fell into place. I was able to take over most of Rebecca’s hours, since she was transitioning from taproom manager to being on the road for brand rep stuff. It worked out well.
What makes Hop & Barrel unique?
H&B is unique in that everyone involved is just very genuine. The owners, the brewers, the staff behind the bar; we are all just ourselves, and we as a brand are never trying to be something we are not. We make great beer, and we are a gathering place for the community, and everyone who comes through the door can recognize that.
Why craft beer and brewing?
I love craft beer and its associated culture because it provides a focus point around which people can gather and interact. In these modern times, social interaction has changed significantly from the past. Group social experiences are harder to come by. How many times do you strike up a conversation with a stranger? Being in a taproom, or a bottle share, or a beer festival gives you the opportunity to do that. Additionally, craft beer is a product that can be intimately tied to a specific region. You can brew using all Wisconsin malts and hops. A beer can truly be a native and local product with a distinctly Wisconsin “terroir,” to borrow from our wine-drinking friends.
What is your favorite Hop & Barrel beer?
My favorite H&B beer is a tough one to choose, so maybe I’ll pick a couple! I love the maple-blueberry goodness of Paul & Babe’s Breakfast Ale; and it’s impossible to go wrong with this year’s barrel-aged Ridiculous Idiots; but on a warm sunshiny day, you’ll find me sipping on Scaredy Pie (especially on nitro!)
Tell us something people may not know about you.
Some secret fun-facts about me: my biggest passion (aside from beer) is the environment and everything in it. I try to be really conscious about my impact on the world and I take steps to reduce it. That’s why you’ll see me biking to work, even on the chilliest winter days. Do you remember that one odd kid at school who spent all of recess flipping over rocks and watching what crawls out? I’m still that kid. I love birdwatching, catching insects, picking up turtles and snakes, identifying plants, and pretty much any living organism. I’m happiest outdoors. At home I have two cats, two turtles, and countless plant babies. Also, the Beach Boys are the greatest band on the face of the planet. Fight me.