The time has come, the Walrus said…

…to speak of other things!

Photo credit: paulsarne.com
Photo credit: paulsarne.com

2015 marks my tenth year working in the beer & wine industry. As the year draws to an end, I’ve been reflecting on where I’ve come from and where I’m going. I’ve traveled far and wide, scouring the country for the best craft beers and the finest wines. I’ve worked my way up the East Coast from my home state of Florida, through a stint in Boston, to making Vermont my home.  I’m proud to announce that when I enter into my eleventh year I will be in a brand new role as a craft beer educator for Farrell Distributing!

This new role will provide me the opportunity to engage more in the act of teaching. My path into, and through, fine wine and craft beer has always been driven by my love of knowledge. In vino veritas. I enjoy learning and I revel in the opportunity to share what I’ve learned with others.

I got my start working during college breaks for a corporate liquor store chain in Florida, ABC Fine Wines & Spirits. I was a lowly sales clerk, but I recognized a great opportunity to learn about wine through their corporate classes. I attended all trainings and attached myself to the in-store wine buyer, soaking up everything he could teach me.

At Saint Michael’s College I became a student of philosophy, English literature and psychology. The quest for truth and knowledge runs the path where all three disciplines intersect. I studied the Ancient Greeks, learning from Plato and Aristotle and then sided with the modern existentialists. While writing final papers, I’d often sip on a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon, putting the old adage to the test.

With a B.A. in Philosophy in hand, I moved to Massachusetts to continue my studies. I found work at The Wine Gallery, an upscale wine shop with stores in Brookline and Boston. My love for wine flourished and I decided to change academic directions. I studied with Sandy Block and Bill Nesto, both Masters of Wine, at the Elizabeth Bishop Wine Resource Center at Boston University, and earned Wine Studies Level 2 certification. Next, I signed up with the International Sommelier Guild, studying under Robin Gustafson, earning a Wine Fundamentals II certificate.

My friends at Beverage Warehouse in Winooski, VT, sent me a message asking if I would come back to Vermont as their Assistant Wine Buyer. I agreed and moved back to the Green Mountains. Eventually, my thoughts moved from wine to beer as the craft revolution ramped up. I moved over to the beer department and worked as The Curator of the Collection for three and a half years expanding the collection from three hundred unique offerings to around a thousand before taking up with my current employer, The Farmhouse Tap & Grill.

I’ve worked closely with owners Jed Davis, Paul Sayler & Rob Downey and I’m very proud of the work that I’ve done at The Farmhouse during the past four and a half years as the Director of Fluid Assets. I’ve been granted a great deal of freedom to take the program started by Chad Rich (now owner of Prohibition Pig in Waterbury, VT) and mold it into my own. I’ve expanded our cellar aging program to nearly two hundred kegs and dozens of cases. I’ve worked with the bar staff to get them all Certified Beer Server status from the Cicerone Certification Program. I’ve helped expand the beer and food pairing program, working closely with the culinary team. We’ve earned numerous Daysies Awards, including Best Bar in 2014 and Best Draft Beer List in 2014 and 2015! During my tenure, The Farmhouse has been featured in various trade publications, most notably in BeerAdvocate Magazine in 2014 (Issue #94).

Soon after I started at The Farmhouse, I was offered a gig writing a beer column for the Burlington Free Press. I focus “Hops & Barley” mostly on market trends and consumer education, using it as a platform for teaching. I’ve been nominated twice for the Daysies Award for Best Online/Print Journalist (2014 and 2015) and have been quoted in trade publications like BeerAdvocate Magazine and Craft Beer & Brewing.

It’s hard for me to leave The Farmhouse, but I’m very excited to join the team at Farrell Distributing in January of 2016! I look forward to working closely with the entire sales team, brand management teams and marketing teams to develop a craft beer curriculum, both for in-house training and to offer to our accounts. I’ll be there as a resource to all accounts and brands, offering my services to help buyers and sellers engage in meaningful and robust conversation about Vermont’s finest breweries and the best from around the globe. I will be offering marketing support and development for events and festivals, enriching the experience and return for our accounts and their customers.

I want to sincerely thank everyone who’s been a part of my journey through craft beer and fine wine thus far and I look forward to working with you all in my new role next year. Cheers!

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