What’s your title and where are you from, originally?
I was born and raised here in Little Rock, and officially, I am the Head Brewer for Damgoode.
When and how did you first get into brewing beer?
My first interaction with brewing was with Boscos Restaurant and Brewing Co. Back in 2011, Boscos’ brewer, Will Galaspy was on his way out the door. I knew I was tapped to become a manager for the company, but in the same conversation as my promotion to management, the owner also asked if I had an interest in learning how to brew for them. I, of course, jumped on that opportunity, and by February 2012, I was the head brewer for Boscos Little Rock.
Tell me about your first beer you brewed solo.
This is where it gets crazy, the first brew I ever completed on my very own, start to finish, went on to win Blue Ribbon at the World Beer Cup in 2012. It was the German Wheat Beer category and I won with the Boscos Hefeweizen.
You stayed through the transition from Boscos to Damgoode – how did that go?
Damgoode’s owner, Jeff Trine, had been working towards getting into the brew scene with his company, and when Boscos went on the market, he got it for a steal. He decided that I already knew the ins and outs of the system there, and thus offered me the position. […] But, I was saddened by the closing of Boscos. I had many fond memories and even more close friendships formed [there], and it hasn’t quite been the same. … [W]ith Damgoode, I am solely concerned with the brewery, whereas with Boscos, I managed, tended bar, and brewed. On the flip side, working for Damgoode has broadened my horizons as a brewer.
How has working at Damgoode broadened your horizons as a brewer?
With Boscos, I was more of a glorified line-cook, in the sense that I followed a recipe using grain that was sent to me from the main location in Memphis. Boscos wasn’t really pushing the envelope with beer styles, as they only used one type of yeast for all of their brews, save one (the Hefeweizen that I mentioned before). Fast forward to Damgoode, now I create the recipes, order the grain, order the hops, make the schedule, and everything else.
How do you feel about our growing beer scene in the Rock?
First off, I love how much the industry has taken off. Many don’t realize that I have been brewing in the city for almost six years now, and I have gotten to witness that growth from an insider perspective. I remember going to the big beer festivals – Foamfest, Rocktoberfest – back when those two were pretty much it, and being one of the three breweries from Little Rock representing. At the time it was only Boscos, Vino’s, and Diamond Bear. Now it seems there is at least one beerfest a month with more and more Arkansas breweries popping up every year. I believe it will continue to grow, and I think that is largely due to what the industry has already accomplished and is continuing to accomplish. My favorite thing about working in the brewing industry is how much support we give to each other.
What are your plans for brewing in the future?
I just signed us up for the Great American Beer Festival competition in Denver this year, so we’re preparing for that. Also, Damgoode is making the push into distribution throughout Little Rock. It has been an uphill struggle, but we are on the verge of a breakthrough, and it will be exciting to see our brews in other locations than just our stores. My hope is to get more recognition for Damgoode Brews, as most people still don’t even know that the company is now making its own beer, and has been for two years now.
What do you think about our food scene – do you have local favorite hangs?
I feel that alongside the boom for the brewing industry, the restaurant industry has profited and played a large role. I love how many food trucks have been popping up, and the number of Thai and Korean places we now have. Three Fold is [my jam], and I enjoy going to The Root Cafe, when I have a lot of time to spare. I work in the River Market, so I really enjoy the small cafes they have inside there, as well.
What do you like to do in your spare time when you’re not brewing?
I love the outdoors. Hiking Pinnacle, going to a swimming hole, floating the Buffalo, or riding bikes on the River Trail all sound like a perfect Saturday to me.