The Goat Rodeo

Life, Beers & Brewing in a secluded (and slightly off kilter) nook in Northern California

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Connecting the Dots

Everything that happens to you (both good and bad) leads you to where you are today.

I am a lucky man, no doubt about that one, and I know that. Considering my total lack of focus & direction as a young man, it could only have been luck that led to where I am today. I was lucky to have stumbled on a profession I love and a profession that I am able to do well in. Although given my interest in beer back in the day (almost anyone I knew at University would not be surprised to learn that I work in the beer business) maybe it was only natural that I ended up here.

But even once I landed in the beer business I was lucky. I was lucky to beg my way on at Redhook Brewery. Lucky to been taken under the wing of then Brewmaster Rick Buccanan, where he took the time to have me work at each job, in each department.

I was lucky to have had the son of a friend of my mother tell her about a brewing position at Pike Place brewery. I was lucky to have been accepted for that position. Lucky to have worked there for the esteemed beer guru Charles Finkel (and his lovely wife Roseann) who had many entrees and international beer connections. Had I worked at another brewery I would never have met so many beer illuminati. I would never have had evenings out with Michael Jackson (no the beer MJ), dinner at the home of Humphrey Smith (owner of Sam Smith's), beers in Aying seated between the Schniders (owners of Schnider Weiss Brewery) and Bavarian Prince Leopold, or a seat at a table for the opening night of Oktoberferfst in the Hacker Pschorr tent (with Wicked Pete & Garrett Oliver no less). Charles & Roseann were undoubtedly well connected. And Charles' relentless PR and savvy media sense got the little Pike Place brewery noticed (and with it, their head brewer - me). We (the brewers at the diminutive Pike Place brewery) used to joke that we got more PR per barrel than AB. It was through Charles that I got my first invitation to write about beer. It was during the years at the Pike Place Brewery that I made the vast majority of my connections in the industry.

Bill Owens, Dick Cantwell, Garrett Oliver, Terri Fahrendorf, Greg Noonan (all met during those years) - it was these folks (and maybe others) that mentioned my name to a headhunter who (in 2004) was looking for a brewer to open a new brewery in Singapore. Again. I was lucky to have connected with the head hunter and even luckier to have somehow convinced the project manager, Andrea Teo, that I was the person for that job. (and BTW, Andrea if you are reading this, which I doubt you are - you were an awesome person to work for). The five years I spent in Singapore were the most exciting 5 years I have had yet (although the 5 years I spent in University are a close second) and I was lucky to be working for such an industry leader in Asia (Asia Pacific Breweries). Once again the built in connections with the brewery I worked for opened doors that might have otherwise remained closed to me on my own. I got to work in Singapore, Vietnam, India and Indonesia. I was able to travel to every country in Asia (except Myanmar & Bangladesh) and I made many really great friends while I was in Asia.

It was one of these friends (Charles Guerrier) that called me a few months back and asked if I wanted to judge beer in Japan. I, of course, said yes (actually I said "Hell yes!"). And, it was of the Japanese Brewing scene and the Japanese brewers that I want to talk about today ...... but I somehow got caught up this digression and lost the plot in my preamble of connecting the dots. But here we are

Everything that happens to you leads to where you are today - or tomorrow. And so it will be tomorrow that I will post a blog on about Japan - and their wonderful beers, brewers and brewing scene. (or maybe later today)


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