Oh, Pete. Affectionately known among brewery staff as Papa Bear. He is an old man at heart and we love this about him. Greenbush certainly wouldn’t be the same without this guy. Think of how lost Mark Wahlberg was in the movie Ted when he lost his childhood stuffed animal. That’s kinda how Greenbush would be without Pete (or should I say Papa Bear?). Cheesy analogy aside, Pete is very passionate about what he does and we can attribute our great beer and successes in part to his passion. Although Pete is a business first kind of guy he also won’t hesitate to drop what he’s doing and lend you a hand and is always good for a pick me up when you’re having a bad day. He’s also good for coming up to you to say he specifically played whatever the current song on just for you or saying “guess what? I think you’re really swell” while holding his hands together, swaying back and forth and looking down all bashful like. Read on to learn more about the bear of a man behind our brew house.
What do you do at Greenbush?
I’m the head brewer. I take everything from purchasing of raw materials through cooking and fermentation. This includes staffing, scheduling, training, quality assurance, recipe conception and being a face!
How’d you get involved with the brewery?
I was a patron starting the first week Greenbush opened. As a homebrewer who was following a culinary career I was interested in learning about the process on a larger scale. After making friends with bartenders (who were brewers, cellarmen, owners, cooks, etc) they offered me a tour. After chatting for a few months with them I asked if I could stage or intern for a day to help them and learn the process better. It took one day. I started showing up every Monday at 6 am to come help. After a few months of that they needed another brewer…and the rest is history.
What time is happy hour for you?
I’d like to think I’m a happy guy in general, but happy hour is when I know fermentation is going well, the ordering is done and all other tasks for the day are in working order. Then, I can relax…for an hour or so.
You’re on a deserted island and can only have one case of mass-produced domestic beer dropped to you—what do you pick?
Um…Pilsner Urquell. Does that count? If not, PBR. IT WON A BLUE RIBBON! Winning awards means it’s good, right?
What’s your favorite non-Greenbush beverage to drink?
3) Beer- German/Czech Pilleners and I usually look for Short’s at the local stores.
4) Wine- anything Tempernillo from the Rioja region.
5) Liquor- Rye Whiskey – preferably 90100 proof
What’s been your most memorable Greenbush experience thus far?
Same response as most people– it’s hard to say. So many good memories. The first time I brewed with Scott (1 year anniversary party day) when he threw me to the wolves to be on my own and run the brew house, my first Michigan Brewer’s Guild beer festival where I got to see the seas of people coming to sample what we worked so hard on, the after hour Rhapsody music sessions with Lindsey and Emily [Editors note: only the good stuff. Lots of Usher, R. Kelly and other slow jamz. Be jelous. Very jealous.], my first recipe being brewed on a large scale and my first recipe hitting distribution in bottles and seeing it on the shelves. And now? Seeing people that work with/next to me starting to succeed and grow into recipe concepters. Oh, and being the poster boy on the cover of the Michigan Beer Film was pretty cool!
What do your friends think about all this madness?
They love it. I’m the guy that always shows up with beer now. How couldn’t they love it? And it’s always a great conversation starter.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
So many things. A chef, firefighter, train conductor, entrepreneur, sculptor, musician. I guess anything that’s not very linear.
If you were a Greenbush beer, which would you be and why?
Closure. It’s my go to beer and I’m good with finding it when others struggle.
What’s your favorite food?
Weiner Schnitzel. Hammer lecker!!!! With a good Pils or Helles of course.
Where do you think you and Greenbush will be in 5 years?
We’re creators here. If we want something, we make it. So I suppose we could be all over the board. So many plans, so little time. I can’t say exactly because we move and grow at a rate that I’ve never seen before.
If you only had one item you could take with you to work, what would it be and why?
Probably my multi-tool or my phone. I know it sounds lame, but you have no idea how important communication is when you’re trying to keep things in motion!
What’s the most exotic place you’ve ever visited?
Exotic? Depends on the definition. Miami would be where I felt most out of place from the area (not a fan of heat). [Editor’s note: I can attest to this. Pete was not the happiest camper in our 91 degree loft for CCBW]. Living in Berlin was rather exotic (considering I didn’t speak a lick of German when I moved there) or New York City. But NYC can be an animal all on her own.
Chicago or Michigan sports teams (or Indiana if you’re crazy)?
Detroit Red Wings (but any hockey will do). Telemundo Soccer, World cup of Rugby and Canadian Curling. After that I could really care less about sports.
Did you have a favorite brewery before Greenbush opened? If so, what and why?
No brewery specifically. As previously stated I enjoy Michigan beer. Shout out to Short’s, Founders, Bell’s and Dark Horse…It was the good stuff I could get!
What’s on your nightstand?
My phone charger, keys and a big glass of water. Sorry guys, not very exciting.
How many beers do you drink in a typical day?
About 40 oz across the day. Usually 10 oz at a time.
Rhapsody Hero (where you try to pick the WORST song for everyone to enjoy)—what’s your pick?
This one has a small story…I remember when Steve Murray was brewing the overnight shifts and he would set up a huge playlist on Rhapsody (usually involving some sort of classic or stoner rock). I used to sneak into the building through the front door when he couldn’t see me and queue up “Who Let the Dogs Out” by the Baha Men. I would time when the song would start and text him something along the lines of, “Hey, I just saw some dogs run by my house. Did you happen to let any out?” It usually was followed up by an, “I hate you.” So, that’s my version of the rick roll.
How’s it feel being a beardless head brewer? Will the beard comeback?
It’s funny. People assume I’m the accountant or intern, or something like that. It just makes me laugh that people have to be the stereotype. And as for it coming back? It’s not my decision, it’s the beards. [Editor’s note: It appears to already be in the re-growth process].
What brought about your love for overalls?
Beach (Mr. Beach to you). Plus I’m pretty sure my mom still has a picture of me in my white pinstripe overalls with my conductor’s hat pretending to be a train engineer. I used to be so cute…what happened? [Editor’s note: Pete still has his cute moments!]
Favorite GB beer to brew vs. favorite GB beer to enjoy?
Mr. Hyde. Definitely Mr. Hyde. That smell when mashing in is like none other. Drinking wise? I would have to say There are Owls in the Roadhouse. To me it’s like drinking a dark chocolate raspberry truffle. Bitter and tart.