How did you get into the beer industry? Why does beer matter to you?
After graduating with my MBA in finance from Drexel University, I was conflicted. Should I accept just ‘any’ job where my education and skills would be rewarded with a salary, or should I build on my educational foundation with hands-on skills in a unique industry that I was interested in learning more about — which was brewing. My interest in brewing began as a homebrewer and was fueled when I began working as a server at a brew pub while attending college which introduced me to brewing on a micro scale — larger than home brewing but smaller than ‘big beer.’ My first industry job was as an assistant brewer at an upstart brewery in the quiet suburban outskirts of Philly which was initially perplexing to my family until they heard me share stories of my first few weeks and they knew I found my passion. Eventually my education caught up with me as I worked my way out of the brewery and into various sales roles, starting with beer then raw materials (hops, malt) and eventually printed and brite aluminum cans, where I happily work currently with the Zuckerman Honickman packaging team.
Why do you judge at the World Beer Cup? What does judging at the World Beer Cup mean to you?
The process of judging beer allows me to tap into my sensory skills, which I was mostly unaware I possessed until a few years back when I became a Beer Judge Certification Program judge and exam administrator for my local homebrew club. Having been educated in marketing during my undergrad years, I was well aware of how branding, labels, and packaging can impact consumer demand and sales. To completely put that aside and focus only on the actual beer was fascinating! Beer styles are historical stories of a time and place where they originated. They offer glimpses into that time when you worked with what the land offered and played the hand you were dealt. Brewers played their hand across the globe creating the dozens of beer styles with countless attributes and characteristics that we have today. This is in addition to the story your senses can tell you about a specific beer sample’s journey into your sample glass. The World Beer Cup represents the pinnacle of judging opportunities for me and I’m so thankful and proud to be a part of this beer judging community and engage with such amazing and interesting people from around the world.