What's your current position at your brewery, and how did you get started in the craft brewing industry?
I am owner/brewer at Tenaya Creek Brewery [in Las Vegas, Nev.]. Like a good number of professional brewers, I was a homebrewer in college. This hobby turned into a career when I was offered a job with a startup brewery in Salt Lake City, Utah named Uinta. I washed a lot of kegs there and eventually wound up in the brewhouse. I have Will Hamill and Del Vance to thank for giving me that lucky break.
What's new at Tenaya Creek?
We just started bottle packaging after 10 years in business. Previously, we were primarily focused on our home market in Las Vegas. Being a tourist destination, we were constantly asked by people if our beer was available back home. “No, not yet” was the standard answer. By packaging, we just expanded our horizon. If the craft beer lover can't make it down to our brewery, then let's get it to their homes!
What's the best part about being part of the craft brewing community?
The excitement shared between us (the craft brewers) and our partners (the craft beer enthusiasts). It's a symbiotic relationship that gives us instant feedback. Word of mouth is very powerful in our community. I can't think of another industry where the customers and the manufacturers are more connected.
What do you like to do in your time away from the brewery?
I really enjoy fishing for trout in Montana and Utah. Not only is it very relaxing, it is quite habit forming. In my opinion, trout live in some of the most beautiful places in the world. I'm an easily distracted person, and getting out to some of these places gives me an opportunity to reflect.
What's your favorite food and beer pairing?
Navratan Korma with garlic naan paired with India Pale Ale. This is something I learned to make at home, and I happened to be drinking an IPA at the time. The flavors complement each other very well. Good stuff.
What's your biggest accomplishment unrelated to your job?
Recovering from brain surgery to treat an arteriovenous malformation. It was a long road to recovery that involved physical therapy and speech therapy. I had to relearn simple tasks that require dexterity. To have things taken away from you that you take for granted gives you a proper perspective on life.
What's your favorite beer that your brewery does not produce?
Sour beers like Russian River Supplication. There's a lot going on with this beer that I can really appreciate. I can't say that we'll never produce one here, but for now I'll just leave it to the experts.
What's the most memorable travel destination at which you've had a chance to sample the local beer?
That would be the mountainside town of Murren in the Jungfraujoch, Switzerland. I was an American lager drinker at the time, and the local beer was Feldschlossen. My perception of what a lager could be was blown wide open. It might have been helped by the Swiss alpine setting. This had a profound impact on me appreciating beer, rather than just consuming beer.