Dan Carey knew early on that he wanted to be a professional brewer when he grew up. He remembers family car camping trips from their San Francisco home north to Victoria, BC. They would stop at the Olympia Brewery in Tumwater, WA, an expansive lakeside red brick brewery with church-like windows. Inside, the glistening equipment, particularly the giant copper kettles, made a lasting impression on Carey.
Talk to a dozen brewers and you'll get a dozen stories about how they ended up in rubber boots.
“It had a romantic feel,” he said. “Ever since I was a kid, I’ve appreciated the Old World style, things that were European.”
He also liked beer. “Even when I was young, I liked the taste,” he said. “Coors or Lucky Lager, you couldn’t beat it.”
When others say they studied beer in college, they are usually talking about Friday nights in the bars or Saturday afternoons around a keg. When Carey studied beer at the University of California at Davis, he earned a degree in brewing science and served his first internship shoveling out the mash tun at River City Brewing in Sacramento.
By the time he and his wife, Deborah, founded the New Glarus Brewing Co. in 1993, he had worked for three years at a microbrewery in Montana; interned at Ayinger Brewery in Bavaria; been valedictorian of a 13-week Siebel Institute Course in Brewing Science and Technology; installed dozens of small breweries for equipment maker J. V. Northwest; and spent three years as brewing supervisor at Anheuser-Busch’s Fort Collins, CO, plant. He also took and passed the Diploma Master Brewer Examination at the Institute of Brewing in London, becoming the first American in 19 years to do so.
A little more than three years after New Glarus began selling beer, Carey went to Germany and bought a used but classic European brew house–complete with glistening copper kettles–that he uses today.
Few brewers in the United States are focused as early as Carey on their eventual careers. But some may have more in common with him than others. Take, for instance, the individuals who ask the question every professional brewer is destined to answer hundreds of times: “How do I become a brewer?”