I consider myself a product of an unconventional path; I spent the first few decades of adulthood doing the conventional thing—that is, what everyone told me to do: go to law school, be an attorney, get a mortgage, and work, work, work. But to be honest, those rites of passage didn’t make me happy. Behind the scenes, I would brew and talk to pretty much anyone who would listen about beer (my poor wife, mostly!). My relentless curiosity about the beverage led me to read, study, taste, and brew beer as much as I could. I also started thinking critically about myself, my family, my dreams, and how to make those dreams come true. I realized that I wanted to become a beer professor, doing research and teaching people about beer: think beer and teach beer.
I left the practice of law to clean tanks at a brewery! It's no joke. I went from courtroom appearances to scrubbing tanks and floors. After seven years as a lawyer, I pivoted to work at a brewery and then went back to school to get an education in brewing science. My first professional foray into the beer industry was as a cellar-person at a fantastic sour brewery called Blue Owl Brewing in Austin. I did everything from tank cleaning to shifts on the packaging line to helping design new beers and even some quality control work like sensory testing. The experience gave me a strong foundation going into OSU and confirmed that I was on the right path.
The College of Agricultural Sciences has an incredible Food Science & Technology department with tons of opportunities for hands-on experience. Being interested in beer, I was obviously drawn to Dr. Shellhammer's lab and the pilot plant in Wiegand Hall. To name some of the things I have done: I've been on-site at hop farms, harvested and processed hops, brewed experimental beers, learned methods of assessing hop and beer quality, trained on scientific equipment used by the industry, participated in hop and beer sensory panels, and been a part of a number of cutting edge brewing science research projects. It's been an incredible experience!
While here at OSU, I've gotten so many enriching opportunities through Dr. Tom Shellhammer's lab, from participating in last year's hop harvest to doing hop chemistry analyses daily. Through this work, I've been able to meet hop growers, maltsters, brewers, and others across the beer supply chain. What a fantastic ride it's been so far!
Being a student-parent is hard! Being a student is hard. Being a parent is hard. Combine both of those together, and it's really hard! When my son is sick and has to stay home, my wife and I have to take care of him, which means we have to rearrange our already packed schedules and find ways to get things done late at night or early in the morning. For me, that often means waking up at 4 am to study. It's also important to me to be an active and present part of my wife's and son's lives, so weekends and evenings are spent doing family activities. My son helps me cook dinner at night, which I wouldn't trade for the world. Staying focused on what's important and efficiently utilizing "working hours" helps me stay on track with both my personal and professional goals.
It sounds cliche, but the birth of my son was a defining moment in my life. I decided I'd be a role model in the best way for him: 33-year-old dads can pursue their dreams too! Beyond that, I'm a fan of sci-fi, cooking, baking, and the University of Texas football (sorry Beavs, it's my alma mater!). On the weekends, rain or shine, you're likely to find me out hiking with my wife and kid (soon to be two kids!).
"Make it so." Yes, it's a Star Trek reference, but I believe it so much that I got it tattooed on my left arm. It's a reminder that we're all individually responsible for making our dreams come true. I'm not saying you can control everything about your life, but you get to choose where your story goes. You are the writer, starring actor, and director of your own movie. Once you figure out what you want, "make it so." Oh, and by the way, it's not going to be easy. If it were, it would be a really boring movie!
Website feature: Brülosophy
Podcast series: The Brü Lab