Thursday, March 31, 2016

This Is a Journey

Brad and I enjoying a few brews before I hit the road. He and Jason are two of the hardest working people I personally know.
This past St. Patrick's Day marked my 2 year anniversary since starting my new career in brewing at Spiteful. With the exception of breaking my wrist something fierce due to a bicycle accident shortly after starting my employment there, I couldn't have asked for a better experience. As I write this, I'm fighting the flu. The doctor asked if I needed a note for my boss and I laughed. I said that these guys are my friends as much as they are my bosses—not many people can say that. In fact, I can honestly say that everyone at Spiteful I consider a friend. Again, something most can't say about every colleague. However, I'm writing this not only to acknowledge how fortunate I am, but also to announce my departure. If you follow brewery news in Chicago, you likely know that Spiteful's preparing for an expansion, moving operations to a new facility in Bowmanville—or "Beermanville" as I've heard cleverly referenced—literally next door to Half Acre's new production facility. Needless to say, things are going quite well for the brewery, so it may seem odd that I'm leaving. But an opportunity presented itself earlier this year that I just couldn't pass up, and starting this Monday, April 4, I begin my new adventure as the first employee for Transient Artisan Ales. We've mentioned Transient a number of times in the past, most notably when Matt and I collaborated with Chris [Betts] just over a year ago. With news of the expansion, and a successful 2015 for Spiteful (not to mention, seeing the floor plans for the new space is pretty awesome), it didn't make this decision easy. Admittedly, it was the toughest decision I've had to make career-wise. After days, even weeks of consideration, one point made the decision very clear: if Kimbell were to ever become something more than just a home brewery, Transient embodies much of what Kimbell would want to be. Once I came to this realization, it was a no-brainer. I mean, before I ever met Chris I was an original member of the Transient Reserve. This is to say I've been a fan of Transient for a while. So to now be able to say that I'm a brewer at Transient feels, well, amazing.

While Spiteful has been working on their expansion, Chris has been hard at work with his own space. He acquired a building in Bridgman, Michigan last year. A lot of walls, carpet (and subsequently, a lot of carpet glue) have been removed since then. Now, it includes a tasting room, and a brewery that houses a plethora of wooden fermenters of all sorts and sizes. On top of all that, he built his own koelschip! I'm entering a world of adventurous fermentation, and that is exactly where I want to be.

The cellar at Spiteful Brewing. The brewhouse sits where I was standing to capture this image. On packaging days, the brewhouse is replaced with the canning machine or bottle filler. This room is about 450 sq ft.

The guys at Spiteful will always be family to me, and I'll always be proud of our success together, and their inevitable success that's still to come. I simply can't say enough good things about Brad and Jason and how they've managed their company. A regimented operation of brewing and packaging that utilizes one of the smallest spaces I know of any brewery working out of, maintaining quality day in and day out.  If you haven't tried a brew from Spiteful, you're doing yourself a disservice. Two gold medals at last year's FOBAB, and a recent Brewers' Choice Award at the Goose Island Stout Fest—these aren't rewarded to just anybody. 

A photo I captured while visiting the new Transient space in Bridgman. Notice the brand new 30 bbl oak foudre on the right.
As I look ahead, it's my hope that I can contribute to the quality and success that Chris has deservedly accomplished with Transient so far. It's going to be a fun ride playing with different brewing techniques and fermentations. And yet, I'm fortunate enough to still say that my boss is also a friend. Life is good. 


  1. Congrats on your work past at spiteful and future work with transient, andy. You embody everything that's positive about brewing awesome beers . Cheerssssssss

  2. Thanks Jill! That's really kind of you to say.