(This tree house outside the brewery in Milton, DE looks like something out of a Tim Burton movie!)
The first couple weeks of the holiday season began as I had expected. Good times with friends and family were plentiful. Responses from prospective employers were not. I was prepared for this and didn’t expect a peep from anyone until we were a couple weeks into the new year. But as we all know, life likes to show us that no matter how much we think we’ve got it all figured out, we don’t.
A few days before Christmas I was doing some last minute shopping and received an email from an unfamiliar person that worked at a very familiar brewery. His name was Jon and he had seen my resume posted on a brewing forum titled “Available for Hire”. I wasn’t even aware that this brewery was hiring at all. But then again how would I? They’re located on the other side of the U.S. and the thought of checking for openings on their website had never crossed my mind. His only question to me was if I’d be interested in having a phone conversation regarding an opening for a brewer position..... at Dogfish Head. Needless to say I was excited about the opportunity to speak with him. After all, these guys make the widest array of beer styles of any decent sized brewery I can think of. I’ve tasted quite a few of them over the past couple years and have been impressed with their creativity. You can also throw in the fact that they were recently been featured in the Brewmasters television series on the Discovery Channel. This was a gig many people would kill for.
A couple days later I spoke to Jon on the phone and the conversation went very well. They were looking for someone with a brewing science education (Thank you again UC Davis), a bit of experience and some other unique qualities. They seemed to like that I had done some time in the business world and written blogs/articles for BYO Magazine. I asked him questions about the job itself, what hours they work, benefits, creative input, etc. At the end of the call he asked if I had thought about what it would be like to move all the way out to Delaware, where they are located. I told him that I’ve never lived outside of California, but that I’d be willing to give it a shot for the right opportunity. Then he told me the next step was to take a trip out there and see what goes on there for myself. First, he needed to run it by HR and someone was supposed to be in touch shortly. I was pretty stoked.
After about 10 days had gone by I was beginning to think they weren’t interested any longer. I then received a phone call from Jon and he was wondering the same thing about me. I was so confused. Then I looked in my junk email box and saw that the HR person had contacted me a week earlier. Thanks Yahoo! We finally got on the same page and before you knew it I was on a plane bound for Philadelphia. I hopped in my rental car and drove south to Rehoboth Beach where my hotel was located. I parked the car, checked in and was off the to the Dogfish brewpub in town. I also called up one of my fellow UC Davis alumni that was working for them so we could have a chat prior to my tour/interview the next day. He met me there at the pub. We had a couple beers, I got introduced to some cool people and it was off to bed.
The next day I got the unadulterated tour of the place, complete with lunch in the little town of Milton, where the production brewery is located. I think the downtown area may have had a couple restaurants, a closed down movie theater and a few shops. It was very quaint to say the least. Then after spending a couple hours with the brewers, I was off to meet with the head honcho of operations, Floris Delee, the Brewmaster. He was a very pleasant man, with an almost childlike curiosity as he asked me questions about my work experience, education, writing and how I got bit by the brewing bug. It was probably the most comfortable I had ever been in a job interview in my life.