Jen here, with the honor of introducing a lady that needs no introduction for this month’s Behind the Bush feature. While Jill Sites may be known to the world as the Ambassador of Everything and an owner of Greenbush–or, when I’m feeling feisty, Boss Lady–the bottom line is she’s as great a friend and boss to me as peanut butter is to jelly (yeah, I just called peanut butter the boss). I wouldn’t be at Greenbush if it weren’t for her and Greenbush just wouldn’t be Greenbush for the same reason. It stands to say that whatever her title, she’s the one who keeps it alllll happening on a day-to-day basis. Read on to find out more about Greenbush’s foremost Ambassador.
What do you do at Greenbush?
Man, what don’t I do? (Actually, there’s a lot I don’t do anymore.) I basically run the business. I’ve done everything from brew to bartend to keg wash and everything in between. At this point, most of my work is organization, computer related, and administratively based, but once in a while I still get to get to get my hands dirty. Day to day I sit at the bar in front of my computer and juggle one thing or another; numbers, project plans, marketing, wholesalers, distributors, future planning, and anything in between. Technically, I’m one of the owners. (And no, I’m not Scott or Justin’s wife. I’ve got my own awesome husband. His name is Jayson and he and I are partners in this crazy adventure.)
How’d you get involved with the brewery?
This story is told far and wide by this point, but basically, I was running The Wine Shop at The Acorn Theater in Three Oaks, and a customer of mine had recently attended a tasting that Scott and Justin did (while Scott was home brewing.) This was right around the time I was getting married, so once that craziness ended, I called the guys up, met Justin in front of what used to be Schlipp’s (down the block from Greenbush), grabbed a 6-pk and Jayson and I brought it to NYC to see my family. We tasted it and loved all of it–and most of the recipes, incidentally, we still produce now. Over the next year or so, Greenbush participated in events I held at the shop, and over time, we became close friends. When I was going to take a job in Chicago, they “made me a better offer” to be the brand manager, before GB opened. About 6.5 minutes into opening, it became clear that I could bring skills even I didn’t know I had to the business, and I became the Ambassador of Everything.
What time is happy hour for you?
Whenever I get home from work usually. Around 5? But I’m lame most nights, and don’t always have a drink.
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’ve read so many of our staff’s answers to this, and I’m kind of stumped. I think I’d have to say Coors Light. It’s super cold all the time somehow, and might be the best substitute for water.
Redeem yourself—what’s your favorite non-Greenbush beverage to drink?
Man with the hard questions I helped write for other people! Beer? In cold weather? Founders’ Porter, hands down. In warm weather? Probably Blue Point’s Toasted Lager or Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. Non-beer? Bubbly. Fairly good bubbly preferably, but a nice glass of Segura Vuidas works any damn day of the week, doesn’t it Ellie Mullins? Or tequila. Also, Jayson is slowly getting me more and more into whiskey and scotch.
What’s been your most memorable experience with Greenbush thus far?
It’s such a hard question for me, because there have been so many awesome firsts. Opening our doors, expanding the wall. Bottling. The Feliz Mazel Tov Party where we met Mama Celia and her little lambs? This sounds super corny, but my most memorable experiences have more to do with watching Sawyer blow up. I’ve always loved the Sawyer Garden Center and Fitzgerald’s, but there is nothing more satisfying for me than watching 40 people milling about this town on a freezing cold Saturday, in a blizzard, in February. Before noon. I’ve lived here for 8 years, through the real estate boom, through the bubble bursting, through the recession’s worst… and watching this town have this new…energy, is just awesome. Oh, that and seeing us on the Travel Channel and in Esquire. Those were pretty bad ass.
What does your husband think about all this madness?
Let’s be honest. He’s a dude. Owning a brewery was right up there on his bucket list, before snowboarding off a cliff, and after playing Madison Square Garden. He’s stoked. As I type this, he’s helping us bottle our first 4,000 distribution cases. He loves it. He REALLY wishes I would put my iPhone away and disconnect more, but he knows that it’s important (most days) that I stay connected and on top of stuff. His words, “I’m really freaking proud of her.”
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Oh, my. A musical theater actress until I realized I could sing and dance, but couldn’t act my way out of a paper bag. And a Yankee.
If you were a Greenbush beer, which would you be and why?
OY GEVALT! I should say Spicy Peaches for obvious reasons (no, because I brewed it you perverts!) but I really don’t know. Rage or Anger because I’m kind of a bitch? (Kind of?) I might have to get back to you on this one. Jumas? I really don’t know.
What’s your favorite food?
Carbs. Carby Carbs. Preferably wearing carbs. With cheese. And I love salad.
Where do you think you and Greenbush will be in 5 years?
Rocking it gangsta style. Hopefully doing what we do, bigger, and better, and without all the jackhammering and air hammering.
If you only had one item you could take with you to work at Greenbush, what would it be?
My water bottle. (I really want to say my iPhone but EVERYONE says that and obviously I have to be different.)
What’s the most exotic place you’ve ever visited?
Israel. It was freaking crazy and I hope to go back someday.
Chicago or Michigan sports teams (or Indiana if you’re crazy)?
Chicago. But also NY. Don’t hate. Appreciate.
Did you have a favorite brewery before Greenbush opened? If so, what and why?
I’m an East Coast girl, so I LOVE Keegan Ales in Kingston, NY. I’ve also had a love affair with Founders for quite some time. They’re not only good people, but they just simply make great beer. And I love Abita from New Orleans. Turbodog has always been my football beer.
What’s on your nightstand?
Like my husband’s Behind the Bush, I’m apparently a freaking nightstand crap artist. What’s up with that? Here we go: My pill organizer, a clock, a blue mason jar (containing some scissors, an incredible head scratcher/massager thing from Chinatown, and some advil) some olive oil hand lotion, a photo of Jayson and I, my iPad, and a water bottle. Oh and a little book called “Do’s and Don’t of Being a Good Wife.” And no, I have no idea why I need half this crap on my nightstand.
How many beers do you drink in a typical day?
Less than one. I usually just do a little tasting at work. The joke at GB is that when everyone starts tasting, I want less than a drop. I’m a lightweight.
Rhapsody Hero (where you try to pick the WORST song for everyone to enjoy)—what’s your pick?
I know I have some good ones stored up, but for this round I’m going to go with “Last Resort” by Papa Roach.
If you could get Greenbush on tap at any one place in the world, where would it be?
Anywhere in Kauai, Hawaii. And I mean, anywhere. Preferably in my kegerator in my fabulous beach house.
What’s your favorite dish you’ve cooked recently?
I’ve done some pretty damn fine healthy dishes lately, so that’s tough. Just a few days ago I made this bomb super healthy AND gluten-free shepherd’s pie with mashed root vegetables and local ground chicken and turkey sausage, so let’s go with that. [Editor’s note: I can vouch, that stuff was taaaaasty!]