From Homebrewer to Craft Brewer
When I was 18, I had the opportunity to spend a year studying in Germany. It was there I discovered that I didn’t just like beer, I loved it, and the beer I was drinking back home simply couldn’t compare.
When I finished my year in Germany, I returned to the U.S. and started brewing my own beer. After homebrewing my way through college and a first career, I landed a job at Appleton Brewing Company in Wisconsin, as an assistant brewer. With less than a year of experience, I sweet-talked my way into the head brewer job for a start-up brewpub, the Pelican Pub & Brewery in Pacific City, Oregon.
The Pelican Pub & Brewery opened in May of 1996. My goal was to create beers that were stylistically distinctive from anything else in the market. Although I favor highly aromatic beers with hops and malts that seem to jump out of the glass, I am always looking for assertive yet balanced flavor profiles and clean, snappy finishes that encourage another sip.
The Pelican is a small operation in a town of only 1,000 year-round residents, but our presence is large. We are a major employer for the area and make it a point to give back to the community.
One of the most fulfilling aspects of being a small craft brewer is the direct connection I have with my customers. It’s an opportunity not all brewers have. I also feel strongly about supporting other aspiring brewers through paid internships, so they are able to have the same chances I’ve had. My first big win as a homebrewer was taking best of show at a local homebrewing competition. That homebrew was adapted into Doryman’s Dark Ale, the first medal-winning beer for the Pelican at the Great American Beer Festival—proving that some of the best beer in the world is homebrew.
Although much of my success has taken shape in the many awards Pelican has won, I am proudest of the brewers that have worked for me over the years who have now gone on to accomplish great things at their own breweries. I like to think that I’ve played a part in their achievements, and count their success as my own. For all these reasons, I am proud to be a craft brewer.
Visit Pelican Pub & Brewery to learn more.
Last Updated: November 24, 2009