What inspired you to do the Brewlab course?
After 10 years of bartending in sports bars and clubs, I decided it was time for me to move on and see what else was out there for me. While I was watching TV one day I saw a commercial for Sam Addams with fat bearded men working in a brewery, toasting each other with craft beers and looking very happy. That’s when I decided that I wanted to work in a brewery too. Just not as a fat bearded man. After tons of research, I chose Brewlab as the brew school for me. It was the best decision I’ve ever made.
What areas of the Brewlab course were most beneficial to you?
Definitely the massive amount of brewing science that’s covered in lectures and PowerPoints throughout the course. It’s an in depth look into what’s really going on beyond the barely, hops, yeast and water. I regularly review my notes and classroom materials for my job now and the lab skills we learned at Brewlab come in handy on a daily basis.
How beneficial did you find the practical side of the Brewlab course?
The onsite work days at local British breweries were really fun and it allows you to apply what you’re learning during the course. The brewery I work at now is quite a bit larger than most of the ones I worked at during Brewlab, but it is extremely beneficial to understand how to do things by hand on a smaller scale. Plus, I’m the only one at my job that has work experience in more than 8 different breweries.
Was there a part of the course you particularly liked/enjoyed?
I loved developing my own craft beer recipes every week and spending the day brewing my creation. That’s what the industry is really all about. It’s relaxing, the brewery smells amazing and everyone goes home with tons of awesome beers. So many beers. Too many to drink!
Where do you work now?
Now I work at Beltway Brewing Company is Sterling, Virginia. It’s a contract brewery so we brew beer exclusively for clients and partners. It’s really amazing because we’re not just brewing the same five core beers all the time like most breweries. We’ve been open for over a year and we’ve already brewed more than 50 different beers for 15+ clients up and down the east coast. It’s an incredible opportunity that I wouldn’t have been able to seize if I hadn’t attended Brewlab.
What is your position?
Right now I’m working full time as a Production Assistant/Cellarman on the brewery floor. I’m also the Tasting Room Manager and soon I’ll be fully trained to operate the brewhouse on my own. Not bad for six months on the job!
How much beer do you produce?
Beltway’s yearly capacity is around 8,500 American barrels a year.
Do you have a recipe you are most proud of?
Beltway brews a beer called 1776 American Brown Ale that is aged for six weeks in rye whiskey barrels. We collaborated with the owner of James E. Pepper 1776 Rye Whiskey to develop the perfect beer recipe to age in his Kentucky whiskey barrels. It’s 10.2% ABV and definitely a crowd pleaser. We call it “beer candy” and always make sure there’s some in stock for the Tasting Room.
What plans do you have for the future?
I plan to spend the foreseeable future gaining as much experience as I can at Beltway Brewing Company. I have a unique opportunity to brew many different beers for many different breweries, which means I’m learning different ingredients, processes and techniques that I might not otherwise learn at another brewery. The team here is also great and it feels amazing to work with people who believe in you. Maybe one day I’ll run my own place, but in the meantime I’m just enjoying the ride.