F: Being relatively new at Fullsteam, have you yet settled into a routine, or is every day in brewing a new adventure?
JS: I feel like I have a flow down to the work day, making it easier to multitask and prioritize. It's a lot less hectic than it was the first couple of weeks. There are always new things to learn and do, but it feels very comfortable now.
F: What's your favorite (and least favorite) part of the job?
JS: My favorite part: working with an awesome team to make some really great beer. I love seeing customers in the taproom enjoying the results of our labor. I think a lot of consumers don’t realize how many people it takes to make a beer. They assume the brewers do it all.
Brewing is certainly a key step, but that wort doesn’t become finished beer until the Cellar/Lab works their magic. That finished beer can’t be served until the Packaging Team gets it into cans and kegs. Finally, it can’t be enjoyed by our guests without our amazing Tavern Team or by consumers in the market without our Sales Team getting it out to them. I’ve always liked working in strong team environments, and Fullsteam has a great one.
Initially, my least favorite thing was getting up at 5 AM to start the first turn of the day. I’ve never been a morning person (“Wait, there are two 5 o’clocks in a day?”). I’ve adjusted now though, and I actually like those first couple of hours when it’s relatively quiet and I can get everything rolling for the day.
F: How do you cheer yourself up during COVID-19? Any new hobbies you've picked up?
JS: Not really any new hobbies, but I’ve definitely been spending more time on some existing ones. I play guitar, so I’ve spent a lot of time on that. I’ve also done a lot of cooking. When I wasn’t working, I did a lot of more complex and time consuming dishes.
F: What your favorite Fullsteam beer these days?
JS: Blend No. 53! It's really well-balanced and shows that a beer can be greater than the sum of its parts. The bergamot in the tea and the lavender are front and center, yet not overpowering. Combined with the Videri cocoa nibs, they create a subtle, yet complex flavor that just makes this beer so interesting and enjoyable. It's also one of the first one offs that I was working the brew deck for, so it's pretty special to me.
F: If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would you go?
JS: If things were normal, I would love to attend the Formula One GP in Monaco. I’m a huge F1 fan and it would be amazing to attend such a legendary race in person.
F: You cook, right? What's your favorite meal to make these days?
JS: I love to cook! I’m always looking for new things to try in the kitchen. I recently acquired a vintage Chicago Metalworks pizza pan, so lately I’ve been turning out a lot of deep dish pizza. I never intended to start making deep dish pizza. It just kind of happened after finding that pan. A lot of my cooking adventures start like that. A lot of my hobbies start that way too.
F: What made you break away from the corporate world to work in beer-making?
JS: I had been in "corporate" for about 16 years and had been relatively successful. It was lucrative, but it was also stressful and required a lot of travel. It wasn’t particularly good for me from a health standpoint. I had been homebrewing and had dreams of opening a brewery. At a certain point, I was at a crossroads. I knew that I would have to make the leap if I was ever going to actually do it and that it would need to be soon. Otherwise, I would stay where I was for the rest of my career.
I think the clincher for me was one day thinking, “When I look back at my life when I am very old, do I want this to be what I spent all my time doing?” The thought of that just made me really sad. With my wife’s blessing, I started taking classes and doing whatever I could to get into the Craft Brewing industry. While it has not always been easy financially, I have never regretted making that decision. I am almost positive that alternate timeline me is really miserable and full of regrets, if he has not had a heart attack yet. My advice to anyone is that life is short. Pursue your dreams. It might not be easy and there will be sacrifices, but it’s worth it.
There is that old saying, “Do what you love and you will never work a day in your life”. That’s kind of BS. It really should be...
“Do what you love and you may work harder than you have ever worked in your life. But you won’t mind doing it.”
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