Jill here. I have a favorite Joel story that actually doesn’t involve Joel. You see, it was Chicago Craft Beer Week, and Jen and I were in Chicago for a few days, running some events. It also happened to almost be Joel’s birthday, and he’s really not the easiest person to shop for. (Translation: he’s not a huge cocktailer, and that’s what we generally get for our staff.) So, there we are, Jen and I, wandering around Chicago trying to think of the perfect gift that expresses just how much we love our “I refuse to be called Chef” chef. And then, like a flash, it hit us. We needed to find someplace to have an airbrushed Greenbush shirt made. “Yes!” You see, the icing on the Joel Degner cupcake is that he L-O-V-E-S himself an airbrushed t-shirt. Bonus points for an airbrushed animal. Extra special bonus points for an airbrushed wolf. Curious? Read more about Mr. Degner below.
What’s your relationship to Greenbush?
Food guru and grease burner.
How’d you get involved with the brewery?
Hmm. I was friends with Scott pre-GB so I was curious to see how things would grow. Also, I took some time off from full-time work in spring of 2010 and had been juggling part-time work as well as catering. So I spent about a year and a half staying afloat with random work while considering what was next. I was quite aware of how well GB was doing in their opening summer and started discussing the possibility of coming on part time with the possibility of growth. I was asked to start with 20ish hours which meant 25ish, then 35 which meant 40 plus and so on. The food program has kept growing and I’m excited where all this is going.
What time is happy hour for you?
Anytime I get to relax on a day with no plans is nice. Not the coolest answer but plenty fun in the brewery to compensate.
You’re on a deserted island and can only have one case of mass-produced domestic beer dropped to you—what do you pick?
I suppose I’d be concerned about something other than beer like water. That aside, my Grandpa loves PBR so that’d be it as a tip of the hat to him (not to our hipster friends whom I’m sure would answer the same in a more ironical manor) as well as a mountain spring-Perrier type experience.
Redeem yourself—what’s your favorite non-Greenbush beverage to drink?
I’m a bit of a fancy soda (fancy is my favorite descriptive word) junky. I like any “draft” root beer, ginger ale or citrus sodas. I’m probably supposed to say a beer here but that’s first in my mind.
What’s been your most memorable Greenbush experience thus far?
Hard to say. Many good times. I love playing DJ here. One particular memory though was being able to go to Detroit Beer Fest. It was excellent to see that the madness in this building stretches out state wide. I’m usually in the building watching the kitchen so seeing that the fuss is outside the walls here psychs me up for the future and what’s happening right now.
What do your friends think about all this madness?
My friends mostly would say this place is a bit of a great fit. I enjoy the madness and all the activity outside of the kitchen as well as some of the fun Americana type comfort foods we make that don’t fit into most dining establishments.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I thought I’d be the best running back ever at University of Michigan. I hadn’t thought much beyond that. A dentist or fireman had been discussed too.
If you were a Greenbush beer, which would you be and why?
Hmm… I think I would be Mammoth. A bit mysterious, hard to define & complex but very tasty.
What’s your favorite food?
Anything served out of a crock, casserole dish or Dutch oven. Big on comfort food.
Where do you think you and Greenbush will be in 5 years?
I expect things to keep growing. A smokehouse, packaged foods emporium, big big big!
If you only had one item you could take with you to work, what would it be and why?
I suppose it would be a sharpie. I never have enough and they smell fancy, too.
What’s the most exotic place you’ve ever visited?
Wall Drug. Corn Palace. Oh, and Rome, too.
Chicago or Michigan sports teams (or Indiana if you’re crazy)?
I’m a huge University of Michigan fan and mostly Detroit, although when it comes to pro sports I’m a bit wishy washy. I’m ok to root for Chicago teams too though I have little attatchment. Detroit teams are pretty bad so I expect little.
Did you have a favorite brewery before Greenbush opened? If so, what and why?
I really enjoy the Michigan scene so I don’t have just one but I love what’s happening here and 3 Floyds is quite the big deal too.
What’s on your nightstand?
Wow. This sounds much more personal than it is. I have a few books, a sports book, Brewing up a Business, rook cards (not devil poker) and too much clothing.
How many beers do you drink in a typical day?
A few sips through the day I suppose. I have one at the end of a shift generally but I’m not usually pounding ’em back while workin’ my knife skills.
Rhapsody Hero (where you try to pick the WORST song for everyone to enjoy)—what’s your pick?
Mmm my choice would be Hootie’s “I Only Wanna Be With You.” Darius Rucker is pure radio magic. Also any 80’s Heart. Everyone likes “Barracuda” or “Magic Man” from the 70’s but few appreciate “Alone” and “What About Love.” Classic and under appreciated.
What’s your favorite item on the Greenbush food menu?
I love the salmon pastrami plate as it has soo much work put into one plate (curing, smoking, pickling, etc.) and is tasty too. The muffaletta is moving up the ladder as well, spicy, meaty and absurd.
What’s your favorite t-shirt that you own? This one is too easy. My air brushed wolf pack and bald eagle tee from the upper peninsula. it is epic and pure. You can borrow it if you ask nicely.