Back then, because this craft brewing thing was on the rise, Redbones in Somerville used to do these professional-brewer-only networking dinners in the basement. They would feature a certain style of beer, bring brewers in from all over, and put all these different beers on tap and have a grand old time. One night happened to be barley wine and strong ale night. An office mate of mine at the time said, “Hey, you home brew and you travel around and try all of these different beers, would you like to go with me?” Sure, why not . . . I was the proverbial bee in the Blind Melon video. I walked in and felt this connection with people in the industry to the point where the next day I said, “Okay, this is what I want to be when I grow up.” Through probably half a day’s worth of phone calls, I managed to get my foot in the door of the industry. So I quit my job as an engineer and moved to Vermont to work at Long Trail Brewing Company.
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My wife and I ended up living in Philadelphia while I was working at John Harvard’s Brew House. That’s when we had the first of our two boys. Our families are from Massachusetts and it was getting difficult traveling back and forth with everyone wanting to see the kids—I’m an only child, my wife’s the only daughter in her family. I told John Harvard’s of my desire to get back to New England, but it turned out that none of their new locations were in New England. When I traveled to the Great American Beer Festival out in Colorado that year, I met somebody who told me about an opportunity at the Hyannisport Brewing Company. From my bed the next morning, after I finally got some clarity following those 1,500 beers in three days, I called them up. From September ’98 to January ’99, we’d come up on weekends, basically helping them out and seeing if the operation was viable. My wife started looking for houses, and in January ’99, we moved to Centerville.
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When Cape Cod Beer first opened up in 2004, we focused on our very, very local market—basically, within Barnstable, primarily to restaurants that were open year-round. We originally operated as a one-man band, then brought on someone to help with production, and then a third person when we brought on a sales guy.
Every once in a while when I’d go out, I’d be sitting there almost undercover, just sitting there enjoying dinner at one of the restaurants that serves our product, and I’d see someone I didn’t know sitting at the table next to me drinking my beer. There was this realization: “Wow, I made that beer and someone actually bought it.” By the same token, it was just as exciting when I’d drive around and see a Cape Cod Beer sticker on the back of a car that didn’t belong to one of my friends.