pints and crafts

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Hard Work, Karma, or Just Dumb Luck?

I’ve always been lucky. Ask my wife. Ask anybody that knows me. Things just work out well for me. I like to tell my kids that it is all because of hard work and perseverance, treating others the way you wish to be treated, and a keen eye for opportunity. But then I have to admit, most of the time even I think I am just plain lucky. Take for example how I found the head brewer for Heretic Brewing Company.

I was on a road trip from California to Minnesota for the national homebrewers conference with my friend Peter Symons. We were making stops along the way at various breweries and meeting up with local homebrewers. I had received an email from Chris Kennedy, the head brewer at Yak and Yeti restaurant in Arvada, Colorado, inviting us to stop by. Peter and I both love Indian food and craft beer, so we were excited to get a chance to visit.

I didn’t know what to expect of Chris and his beer. After all, he only took up homebrewing five years earlier and was brewing professionally for only three years, but some folks are just meant to be brewers. It was clear from the quality of the beers Chris was serving that he was skilled. The beers were as good as any and he showed creativity and a yearning to experiment and learn more. He did not have any formal training as a brewer, but here he was producing stellar beer. I love it when I meet someone that is driven by their passion to be great at something.

Later that day Peter and I were making another stop at Dry Dock Brewing and ran into Chris again. While enjoying a beer together, Chris and I talked more. I began to see that Chris was not only passionate about brewing, but he was smart, funny, and intelligent. At one point Chris asked me why I didn’t open a brewery and I ran through my standard litany of reasons. He persisted, offering answers to most of my objections. Since I had already grown to like and respect Chris I said, “Well, if I ever open a brewery, you can be my head brewer.” Of course, at that point I never thought I would open a brewery, so even though I meant it, I figured it would never come to pass.

It was a couple months after that when a chance at opening a brewery fell into my lap. So, being a man of my word, I contacted Chris and asked him if he still wanted to be my head brewer. I think he was a little shocked, assuming that I was just joking previously. We met again at the 2010 GABF and discussed our theories and passions for beer some more. Chris asked me why I would offer him the job and not someone else. I told him it was just intuition that he would make a great head brewer. And maybe intuition is a big part of luck as well. Later that week at GABF, Chris won a gold medal in a tough category, American-Style Strong Pale Ale, but I wasn’t surprised. So call it dumb luck or intuition, but for some reason, things just seem to be falling into place for Heretic Brewing Company.