Big Boss has been through a lot of incarnations, hasn’t it?
It was Tom Cat, which became Pale Ale (it was really owned by the same people), then it became Rock Creek, and that’s when I became involved. Rock Creek became Chesapeake Bay for a very short time and nearly went under. We came back and started Edenton, and then, fortunately, Geoff Lamb bought it and we became Big Boss.
It’s grown big—new staff, new equipment, much larger output. What’s the rate-limiting step on scaling up operations?
Tanks—fermentation to lagering to finish. I just bought two new 100-barrel tanks, which will take the place of two 50-barrel fermentation tanks. But we will do 12,000 barrels this year, up from 6,500 last year, barring anything unforeseen. I mean, we’ve had a boiler go down, we’ve had all kinds of crap, but we’ve been on a good roll lately.
You can sell as much as you make right now?
Oh, yeah. We can’t make enough. And we can’t explore any more territory—I’m not even covering North Carolina yet. We’re not east of 95, there are a few more pockets of the state we’d like to cover. I just got off the phone with Pennsylvania and Virginia yesterday about why I can’t get them beer yet.
I know you trained as an economist. How did you get started in brewing?
I was the keg guy at Wild Goose. They had some crazy name for a keg washer, so it sounded like a really great job until I got there! I’d had two job offers: one with them, and it started right away. I wanted to be a brewer and I needed work, so I took that one.
What were you doing before that?
I was at University of Delaware, thinking of getting my MBA, until Lynn said we were having our first kid. I thought “What? I’ve got to get a job? What the hell! School’s so great!”