Behind every beer brand you drink is an impressive team of beer professionals — brewers, barkeeps, bussers, canners, sales reps, lab techs and everyone from marketing and HR teams to warehouse and restaurant workers. “Beer professional” encapsulates a wide variety of jobs and skill sets, and breweries are constantly making moves to secure great employees and industry leaders. Oftentimes, it’s not even a beer pro, but a food or technology wiz that’s needed. Craft breweries have many facets and require specialized employees. Here are a few of the big personnel headlines from the craft brewing industry in the last month plus. Send your beer pro news to [email protected].
Left Hand Brewing restructures board of directors, welcoming impressive new members
Left Hand Brewing Co., one of the original pioneers in craft brewing, recently restructured its board of directors, welcoming three new members: Julia Herz, Kevin Patterson, and Anton V. Dworak. In 2021, Left Hand grew its Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) by repurchasing stock from original shareholders and previous board members, paving the way for adding new members to the board. The restructure deepens and diversifies fields of experience in the brewery’s advisory team, strengthens community ties, and increases stock value for current employee-owners and shareholders.
When seeking out new members for the board, Left Hand’s goal was to strategically add locally-focused leaders with areas of expertise relevant to growth opportunities for the brewery.
“Over the past two decades, our Board’s beer industry knowledge, entrepreneurial outlook, and financial planning have been very strong,” said Eric Wallace, cofounder and president of Left Hand. “Julia, Anton, and Kevin are not only bringing to the Board fresh perspectives on our industry, they also are strengthening our depth of experience in the legal field, governance and government, marketing, public service, and in the non-profit sector.”
With Left Hand’s long-standing, original location in Longmont, Colorado and a new location opening in Denver’s RiNo neighborhood next year, the brewery intentionally recruited new members with strong community ties, building on their mission to “build community one pint at a time.”
Julia Herz is CEO and founder of HerzMuses Enterprises, LLC. She is a strategic consultant, speaker, and educator who supports small business and nonprofit entities. Before consulting, Herz was the Craft Beer Program Director for the Brewers Association (BA) and Publisher of CraftBeer.com. She specializes in cause-based marketing, including the new Gray For Good – For All Womanhood campaign. As one of the main advocates behind U.S. craft breweries, she has been a source to thousands of media outlets, is a BJCP Certified beer judge, an award-winning homebrewer, Certified Cicerone, a lead architect of the BA National Beer Holidays, the Independent Craft Brewer Seal, BA diversity and inclusion efforts, and more. Herz is the co-author of Beer Pairing: The Essential Guide from the Pairing Pros (Voyageur Press 2015). She is a graduate of the University of South Florida with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.
Kevin Patterson has served as CEO of Connect for Health Colorado since April of 2015. He previously served as chief administrative officer and interim chief of staff to Gov. John Hickenlooper and has an extensive history of public service. Patterson has served as the interim executive director of three state agencies during leadership transitions: the Governor’s Office of Information Technology, the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, and the Governor’s Energy Office. He brings a strong understanding of state government and stakeholder engagement to this role. Patterson has held leadership roles for the city and county of Denver in the Budget Office, the Planning Department, the Department of Human Services, the Department of General Services, and the Department of Parks and Recreation. He was elected to the Denver Board of Education in 2001 and reelected in 2005. Patterson serves on the Denver Zoological Foundation’s Leadership Council and serves on the board of trustees for Mile High United Way. He graduated with a B.A. in Teaching from Sam Houston State University and holds both a Master’s of Public Administration and a Master’s of Urban Regional Planning from the University of Colorado at Denver.
Anton V. Dworak is a shareholder at Lyons Gaddis Attorneys & Counselors. Dworak’s practice focuses on business, real estate, estate planning, probate, and tax law. He enjoys the variety of his practice, and takes pride in working with many different clients, from large companies to small businesses, individuals, non-profits, and government entities. Dworak’s professional work extends beyond the firm. He is a Past President of the Boulder County Bar Association and a Past Vice President of the Colorado Bar Association. He also is a member of the tax, business, and estate planning sections of each association. As a fourth generation Longmont resident, Dworak is committed to the community. His involvement includes: Longmont United Hospital Board of Directors (Chairman of the Board 2020-2022), Special Transit Board of Directors, Longmont Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, Longmont Housing Development Corporation, Tiny Tim Center (Past President), Twin Peaks Rotary Club (Past President), and Lifetime Member of the Board of Directors of the Longmont Cemetery Association. Dworak graduated in 1990 from Emory University where he received a B.A. degree in Economics. In 1993 he received his J.D. from the University of Denver College of Law, and in 1999 he earned his LLM, Master of Laws in Taxation.
The new board of directors structure speaks to Left Hand’s continued efforts to remain independent. “Our ESOP is growing,” said Wallace. “We’ve gone from roughly 3 to 9 percent in the last year while increasing the value of shares for our current employee-owners. We know that staying an employee-owned, independent company means we are willing to do this the hard way. We see our board as a strategic advantage. Without the deep pockets that acquisition has given others in the industry, we need to work smarter. Having a solid, diversified, and experienced Board is one way to continue to compete with more limited resources.”
Left Hand’s current board of directors also include returning members Jeff Mendel, cofounder of Tabernash Brewing Co. and the Colorado Brewers Guild, and Mark Burka, senior vice president and senior portfolio manager at Ziegler Capital Management, LLC. Eric Wallace and Chris Lennert, Left Hand’s chief operating officers, remain as members of the board internal to the organization.
Atlanta Brewing appoints Spencer Willis as new head brewer
Atlanta Brewing Co. recently announced its new head brewer — Spencer Willis. An experienced head brewer, Willis has been in the beer scene since 2014 having worked at breweries in Georgia and Florida. While receiving his masters in sports management in Tallahassee, Willis was bartending for a local brewery. They needed some extra help, so he went in the back and started cleaning kegs, three months later he brewed his first batch.
“Our head brewer trained me on the basics of brewing, and I ended up falling in love with the process,” says Willis. “Brewing is the perfect combination of art and science, I love using my creativity to come up with fun recipes, while using hard data to ensure all stats come out accordingly.”
Willis joined the team in August and has already hit the ground running by implementing a complete brewhouse procedure overhaul, hiring two additional members of the production team, including a lab tech and creating a new taproom exclusive beer menu.
“Quality and consistency are my main priority in every aspect, and it’s something ABC has executed well throughout the years, but now I want to focus on bringing back Atlanta Brewing towards the forefront of the Atlanta beer community. I’m working to make us a household name,” said Willis.
Willis is a graduate of FSU with a B.S degree in Political Science and a graduate degree in Sports Management. He is also a member of the Master Brewers Association of the Americas and working towards being the leading member of the Georgia district.
Nebraska’s Zipline Brewing names Brendan McGinn as director of brewing operations
Zipline Brewing Co. recently announced the appointment of Brendan McGinn as its director of brewing operations. Brendan takes over with a lifetime of brewing expertise gained through working in nearly every facet of the brewing industry.
McGinn started homebrewing in 2004 with a Mr. Beer kit. He translated that early love of homebrewing into a position at Aksarben Brewing Co., an early Omaha, Nebraska brew-on-premise outlet, where he was the Manager-Brewer. His first big commercial brewing opportunity came at Lincoln, Neb., craft beer pioneer Empyrean Brewing Co., where he spent seven years from 2007 to 2014. There he learned the brewery business from the ground up working in the warehouse, on the packaging line and ultimately the brewhouse where he worked as a Brewer-Cellarman.
In 2014, McGinn was invited to join startup Ploughshare Brewing Co. in Lincoln. There, he helped oversee the installation and commissioning of the new brewery. Highly skilled at recipe formulation, McGinn displayed a deep understanding of raw ingredients and their contributions to great beer. He designed many outstanding beers during his tenure there, including a 2016 World Beer Cup Silver Medal winner in the Maibock/Hellesbock category.
McGinn joined the brewing team at Zipline in March 2017. Flashing his highly specialized grasp on mash mechanics, yeast management, beer design, and mitigation of contaminants, McGinn’s hold on both the art and science of brewing led to being named Zipline’s head nrewer just one year later. He has since served tirelessly in that role overseeing the brewing staff, ensuring the quality of Zipline beers, and improving processes where needed. As Zipline’s director of brewing operations, he now oversees all facets of beer design, innovation, production, and quality, all the while supervising a team of three other brewers, to produce nearly 10,000 bbls of beer annually.
Beyond his obvious expertise, McGinn brings to the job a host of intangibles that make him one of the most beloved members of the Zipline team. He works hard to ensure that he and his brew team are operating in a safe and efficient manner and is relentlessly positive and supportive of his staff, his peers and brewing culture in general. From his earliest days, McGinn has dedicated his life to creating, and helping others create, world class beer. Zipline fans can be assured that many more are on the way.
Maui Brewing welcomes new COO Scott Metzger
Ok, we already covered this, but it’s worth repeating. Maui Brewing Co. recently announced the addition of Scott Metzger as its new chief operating officer. Following his tenure as founder and CEO of Freetail Brewing Co., Metzger has most recently been serving as general manager of Wormtown Brewery.
With Maui Brewing poised to expand their full craft beverage portfolio of beer, hard seltzer, and spirits growing beyond previous years, Metzger will be responsible for overall high-level operations, continuous improvement for the business including growing sales and market expansion, assisting in the implementation of the strategic vision of the company, and further building the MBC team while ensuring a safe, positive, and inclusive environment for the team.
Metzger and Maui Brewing’s CEO and Founder Garrett Marrero met while both serving on the Brewers Association Board of Directors. Marrero recalls, “I served with Scott on the BA Board and was always impressed with his intelligence and approach to handling issues and facilitating discussions. His ability to think globally and truly consider the needs of many was impressive. I believe Scott is what we need in the role of COO here on Maui as we strengthen our foundation which is our team while we push to grow our Brand ‘Ohana nationwide.”
”It is an honor and a privilege to be joining the team at MBC, a company I have admired from afar throughout my entire career in the industry,” said Metzger. “Knowing Garrett and the passion he brings, I am ecstatic at the opportunity to work alongside the MBC ‘ohana. I will greatly miss my wonderful friends and colleagues at Wormtown and will be forever rooting for their success from the other side of the country!”
Metzger is a native of San Antonio, Texas, where he received his Master of Arts degree at the University of Texas at San Antonio. He earned his Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Texas State University. He is Six Sigma Champion Certified, with additional certifications on Leadership from Management and Strategy Institute.
Stable Craft Brewery at Hermitage Hill announces new head brewer Eric Ahlberg
Central Virginia’s Stable Craft Brewery at Hermitage Hill, an authentic working farm brewery and winery, recently announced the appointment of Eric Ahlberg as head brewer. Ahlberg comes to Stable Craft Brewing after 13 successful years at Blue Point Brewery in Long Island. Ahlberg will manage all aspects of production brewing, including recipe formulation, quality assurance, brewery maintenance, and day to day production.
“We are excited to welcome Head Brewer Eric Ahlberg to Stable Craft Brewery at Hermitage Hill,” said Craig Nargi, owner. “Eric is extremely talented and well-known in the craft beer industry, with an impressive 15-year professional brewing background, most recently with Blue Point Brewery and we are confident that our guests and locals will love what he brings to the table. I couldn’t be more excited about our future with Eric leading Brewing operations.”
Nargi added,” This is a truly exciting time to be in Virginia craft beer. Having navigated Covid with my incredible staff, I know that there are many good things on the horizon here.”
Ahlberg is already planning some new delicious brews that are easy to drink and also some big, flavored projects that will leave Stable Craft patrons amazed.
“I am really excited to be taking the lead at this award-winning brewery and wedding venue,” said Ahlberg. Stable Craft Brewing is constantly evolving and growing and is on the verge of really making its mark on the craft beer world. I’m looking forward to being part of the team that helps to take them to the next level.”
Ahlberg’s philosophy is. “you never know it all so always keep an open mind. Anyone can teach you something new.” When he’s not brewing beer, Ahlberg enjoys spending time outside with his family away from technology and listening to live music.
Stable Craft Brewing’s rural location offers acres of open farmland with multiple covered and uncovered outdoor locations to keep guests socially distant while enjoying craft beer, cider, wine, and food.
Stable Craft Brewing is the first brewery on the East Coast to launch a zero food waste initiative for its award-winning brewery, restaurant and wedding and banquet facility. The sustainable brewery also grows its own hops, utilizes the brewing wastewater to water their hops, co-ops with a local farmer to use the spent grain for food for the cattle and have planted 1,100 trees on the farm to help with erosion and air quality. Stable Craft offers a sustainable tour by reservation only for guests to get a first-hand look at all of its sustainable initiatives.
Great Raft Brewing announces in-house kitchen led by Chef Nick Simons
Great Raft Brewing recently announced an expansion of the brewery’s offerings this fall, with the opening of its new kitchen concept Provision by Great Raft Brewing. The brewery has recruited Chef Nick Simons (center in the photo above), formerly of Wine Country and Southern Trace Country Club, to spearhead the new project.
“This is first and foremost a production brewery. However, conversations at the brewery almost always revolve around food and beer. For years we’ve wanted to execute our own culinary vision to complement our beer. The addition of Chef Simons allows for just that,” said Andrew Nations, brewery president and cofounder. “Our depth of style in brewing should be equally represented in our food. Our patrons can expect the same level of execution and innovation, with an unpretentious approach to food and beer pairings.”
Provisions by Great Raft Brewing will initially launch with a series of pop-up dining events from Chef Simons throughout the summer. Pop-ups are planned for July 14 (Wednesday), July 15 (Thursday), and July 22 (Thursday), with additional dates to be announced throughout the summer.
“This exciting opportunity provides me with a new creative license to challenge the idea of traditional brewpub faire in a creative and approachable way” said Chef Simons.
Chef Rich Sweeney and Chef Israel Ortiz join Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens
Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens welcomes two new powerhouse chefs into the fold to lead its San Diego destination restaurants. Chef Rich Sweeney now leads Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens – Liberty Station. Chef Israel Ortiz takes the lead at the original flagship Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens in Escondido.
Chef Rich Sweeney is widely recognized for competing on Bravo’s Emmy-Winning Top Chef, season 5. He most recently led culinary development for Tocaya Organica. His extensive resume as Executive Chef includes North Italia, Waypoint Public, R Gang Eatery, Florent Restaurant & Lounge, Southpaw Social Club and Confidential Restaurant & Loft. Chef Sweeney brings to Stone a breadth of experience and a deep knowledge of multiple cuisines, especially fitting for Stone’s world bistro concept.
Chef Israel Ortiz joins Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens – Escondido after an extensive career of high-volume operations. He managed kitchens at Live Nation Entertainment (Sycuan Casino), Harrah’s Resort Southern California, Caesars Entertainment Corporation, Sandia Resort & Casino and Hotel Andaluz. He is well-respected for his work leading large restaurants and teams. Having overseen multiple operations at once and sizeable events, he’s a sure catch for a bistro with ample event space.
In the coming months, Stone’s new chefs will be re-imagining its menu bringing back some classic Stone favorites alongside new offerings. For now, guests can pair the company’s award-winning beers with menu items like the True Craft Burger, Bulgogi Chow Fun, & Chicken Tinga Tacos. Recommended pairings of Stone beers and seltzers complement every menu item. Guests can order by the glass or enjoy flights and tasters.
“Stone has done really notable things for the San Diego restaurant industry,” noted Chef Rich Sweeney. “They created these massive indoor/outdoor spaces, then elevated the food far beyond the expectations of a brewery. From the start they put sustainability and Slow Food values at the forefront of their ethos. I’m excited to lead this team forward with that same thoughtful approach.”
“Chef Sweeney has a strong grip on the bold flavors that Stone is known for,” expressed Gregg Frazer, Stone’s VP of hospitality. “He’s putting creative, yet approachable food on the table that our guests are already loving. And Chef Ortiz knows exactly how to elevate pedestrian brewpub fare to enhance our vision. These guys deliver a really memorable experience, and that’s what Stone is all about.”