Behind the Bush: Rick Orta(r)

rick Rick starting working at Greenbush going on a year and a half ago and fit in swimmingly. Before Rick started working at the brewery, I (Emily here, btw) knew him as a mug club regular. Him and his now fiance’, Angie, would come in on a weekly basis for food and of course, good beer. It didn’t take long before I knew their numbers, 725 and 726, and it wasn’t long before Rick decided he wanted to be a part of what goes on behind the scenes of good beer. Read on to learn what made Rick decide to become more than a mug club member and a bunch of other silliness. Yes, silliness. Speaking of silliness… can you imagine Rick wearing a pair of 44″ JNCO jeans and not just one wallet chain, but THREE? I recently over some food (okay, beers) at Moser’s learned this fascinating and hilarious tidbit about Rick. Any who…

What do you do at Greenbush?                                                                                        My official title is Lead Cellarman, but I think Cellar Maestro would look way cooler on my business card. And I think I’d be the only one. In the world. Yeah. Anyway, I coordinate things in the cellar on a day to day basis and generally plot and scheme on ways to improve our work area and processes. And fixing/troubleshooting/maintaining stuff. Things break in a brewery all the time. That can keep me pretty busy too.

How’d you get involved with the brewery?
I have been a big fan of GB almost since the beginning. Then slowly, one by one, my friends started penetrating the ranks. First Steve and Blake Murray, then Howie and Ryan Beach. Beach, who eventually worked his way up from kitchen staff to plant manager, asked me for months to quit my job and come work for the brewery. I shrugged it off for a while because it involved taking a bit of a pay cut but when it started to look like getting laid off was inevitable at my previous employer, I said screw it and went for it. Best decision ever. When you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.

What time is happy hour for you?
Anytime I’m surrounded by people/dogs I love and good beer. So, all the time I guess?

You’re on a deserted island and can only have one case of mass-produced domestic beer dropped to you—what do you pick?
Easy, there’s only one correct answer. Coors Banquet beer.

What’s your favorite non-Greenbush beverage to drink?
Like, adult beverages? Other equally well crafted beers, white Russians, or a couple of ounces of Laphroig 10 year on the rocks.

What’s been your most memorable Greenbush experience thus far?
For me, I think it was Winter Beer Fest this year. We all got pretty rowdy the night before at Logan’s Alley and some other places I can’t really remember. It was a blast! Even though I got so rowdy I slept the whole next day in the hospitality tent, worked my 2 hour pouring shift and then slept more in my Jeep it was still awesome. I went to Winter Beer Fest and never had one beer this year. I was however feeling well enough by the end to go back in and help tear down. Walking back in to the fest at 6 p.m. and getting to watch all the drunk festival goers falling everywhere on the ice was hilarious! [Ed’s note: He’s leaving out a very key part, the epic drunken pool showdown at Logan’s Alley the night before WBF. More details in the bonus questions at the end!]

What do your friends think about all this madness?
The ones that aren’t caught up in the madness with me are probably jealous, and for good reason!  Ha!

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a mechanic. In a way that dream has been realized. See question 1. Things break in a brewery all the time! In a busy brewery it’s going to happen and you’ve got to be a DIY kind of person and fix things quickly in order to keep moving.

If you were a Greenbush beer, which would you be and why?
Greenbush hasn’t made a beer yet that can capture my essence. Try and put this genie in a bottle Pete, I dare ya. [Ed’s note: challenge accepted Pete???]

What’s your favorite food?  ZIGEUNERSCHNITZEL. If you don’t know what it is, I suggest going to Moser’s Austrian Café and letting them drop some knowledge on ya. You can thank me later.

Where do you think you and Greenbush will be in 5 years?                                Sawyer, Michigan silly. Next question!

If you only had one item you could take with you to work, what would it be and why?
My pants. Because you just can’t work in a cellar with “the boys” hanging out everywhere. There’s waaaaay too much HOT water and corrosive chemicals. [Ed’s note: answer edited due to adult content ;)]

What’s the most exotic place you’ve ever visited?
Austria. A few years ago a large group of our friends went. It was EPIC. Best time I’ve ever had in my life.

Chicago or Michigan sports teams (or Indiana if you’re crazy)?                                 I’m not really into sports but you might catch me watching and cheering for the Chicago Blackhawks. Hockey is the only organized sport that even comes close to being able to hold my attention.

Did you have a favorite brewery before Greenbush opened? If so, what and why?
I would probably have to say New Belgium Brewing. It just happened to be one of the first craft beers I ever tried and liked. It wasn’t even Fat Tire that made me a fan it was beers like Abbey, 1554 and Mothership. Now I don’t ever even reach for them. Not that they’re bad beers, but there’s better beer being made right here in our own backyards now. And those boners quit making Mothership. Just keeding NBB!

What’s on your nightstand?
A phone charger, my sunrise alarm clock, chapstick, dog hair from my golden retriever, bottle of water, glasses…

How many beers do you drink in a typical day?
It just depends. I hardly ever drink while I’m working. I’m usually pretty busy and it just slows me down. But near, or after quitting time, it’s anybody’s guess.

Rhapsody Hero (where you try to pick the WORST song for everyone to enjoy)—what’s your pick?
One of the worst songs ever is Blue (Da Ba Dee) by Eiffel 65 so that one. It’ll make you rip the ears right off your head.

So, what’s this I hear about you liking to play dress up in girls clothing?
It’s not that I like to dress up in girls clothing, I just don’t mind doing so in the name of humor. A group of our friends had a Kentucky Derby party and we were supposed to come dressed the part. I’m not one to get dressed up all dapper so I decided to dress up as a woman. But I did a terrible job. Blue flower dress from Goodwill, sneakers, tall black socks and a red haired wig pulled into pig tails. It was quite a spectacle. It was gross. If I was a girl I’d be single for life. [Ed’s Note: If you’re friends with Rick on Facebook you can see for yourself!]

Tell us about the epic pool showdown at Logan’s Alley the night before Winter Beer Fest…
It’s a little hazy but, a guy in a collared shirt and a sweater challenged me to a game of pool. So I says “OK”. Since he was coming to the table I just won on, I broke. I sunk the 8 ball on the break for the first time in my life! Instead of acting like “HOLY S**T!”, I was just like “I WIN”, so as to try and dupe him into believing I’m an amazing pool player. After that, you tell me. I don’t really remember the rest of the night. It was a doozy. I heard I may have air humped a bunch of people but that could also be a total fabrication. [Ed’s note: it really happened.] If you don’t remember, it never happened.


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