1995 is a multi-part Liquid Diet special report. I have asked an array of local beer luminaries to recount for us what they were doing in December 1995 and the story is told in their own words. The entire series is being cross-posted on a new 1995 page in chronological order as we go along for the convenience of late-comers who want to read the story in the order it was intended.
One of the early signs that Philadelphia was developing a strong and appealing beer culture was that just about every brewer who came to town to work at one of the local breweries never left. They stayed on or found another local job because they liked it here. It wasn’t true in every case, of course, but it was definitely the prevailing trend. Five of those guys remember where they were in 1995…
CHRIS LAPIERRE. Lappy fell in love with brewing early on and began his career in Philly before moving on to New England for a while. He came back to join the Iron Hill team and today is the head brewer at their Maple Shade. NJ location.
“Fifteen years ago I was waiting tables at the original Dock St at 18th and Cherry. I spent lots of time forcing (head brewer) Eric Savage and (assistant brewer) Victor Novak to try my homebrew and begging them to let me come in and wash the windows or scrub mold off of tanks. Finally they let me start giving brewery tours so they didn’t have to come in on Saturdays. About a year after that I was the assistant brewer.”
BRANDON GREENWOOD. He came to town in 1966 to work at Red Bell, moved on to Yards where he helped them get into packaging and, most famously, was the founding brewer at Nodding Head. He’s the guy we called, affectionately, “the Angry Brewer.” Today, Brandon is Director, Liquid Process & Brewing at Mark Anthony Brewing in Rochester.
“This time 15 years ago I was freezing my ass off in St. Paul Minnesota while working as a Brewing Supervisor for Stroh’s.”
RIC HOFFMAN. He’s been the head brewer at Stewart’s Brewing in Bear, Delaware for a decade and is a multiple GABF medal winner. If you want to go visit, he’ll assure you that “Bear is 15 minutes from anywhere” and that a beer will be waiting.
“I wasn’t even brewing at the time, although I was into drinking good beer; remember Pete’s Wicked? It truly was a good beer at some point back there. 1995 saw me come in ‘off the road’ to seek permanent lodging and a steady job. After I finished dropping out of college (the Naropa Institute in Boulder), I spent about a year following a few bands around. You can use your imagination as to which, or just make something up.
“I moved to Tucson in early ’96, where I started homebrewing, followed less than a year later by my first brewing job at the former Wilmington Brewing Co., Wilmington, NC working under Kevin Sondey (a Stoudt’s alumnus) from ’97 to ’98. I left there after a year because my girlfriend at the time couldn’t stand living there. Ended up back in Delaware in summer ’98, and Stewart’s was the first to make me an offer. I was the assistant until May 2000, and the rest… well, I guess you know the rest.”
LARRY HORWITZ.Chances are, Larry though he was just passing through when he arrived here to take over Manayunk. That was his pattern. After he moved to Iron Hill, though, he was definitely set to be one of us. He’s now the brewmaster at their West Chester pub. In 1995, he was on the road home, even if he didn’t know it yet.
“I was the ‘Brewmaster’ for a tiny brewpub in Mansfield, Ohio called the Wooden Pony. Young, drunk, and VERY excited. I think we did about 500 BBLs before the pub went tits up. Good times.”
BRIAN O’REILLY. His arrival at Sly Fox, once he moved past the New Road Brewhouse fiasco, set off a series of events which sparked the growth of a popular local pub into a multi-location company with a 20bbl production brewery and a place in history as the first Mid-Atlantic craft brewer to embrace canning. Fifteen years ago, In 1995, though, he was a nervous kid working for a legend.
“I was racking a Bock beer keg out of a grundy under the tutelage of Phil Markowski at the Brewers Bier House in Merrimack NH. When I unhooked the hose improperly, I was thrown across the cellar by spraying bock beer. It took me an hour to clean up the mess, all the time under the assumption that when Phil found out I would be let go. He never came by during that hour. After all was put away, and I had washed half my body and my hair in the bathroom sink, I found Phil and told him the news. He laughed and simply said, “I bet you won’t do that again.” I worked extra hard for the next few weeks thankful that he had given me a free pass.”