Neal Gallagher has a job many (unstable) men would kill to acquire. It revolves around a product thousands of years old. A product so important, that barbecues, college gatherings and family reunions would be non-existent in its absence. We are, of course, talking about beer.
Ah, beer. The liquid confidence-booster. The liquid coat. The liquid loaf of bread. Behind each bearded man in overalls stirring a giant vat of this legendary libation, is a team of professionals that market, distribute and promote each product. These men practice a new level of self-control while working alongside a tempting, delicious and powerful drink. Not to mention – it goes great with jerky! (Shameless plug)
Neal is one of the lucky men to have championed this exciting industry. How did he do it? More importantly – how can you follow in his footsteps? We sat down with Neal to discuss his vocational jackpot, and what it means to be a brewery man.
BOJ: How did you land a gig like that?! Did you win a lottery?
NG: I wish I had won the lottery, then I could have opened up my own brewery! My main goal after college was to get a job with a brewery, so I applied to tons of breweries across the nation and ended up landing a gig with Great Lakes Brewing Company out of Cleveland, OH.
BOJ: How much of your time is actually spent with your nose in a beer next to a giant vat?
NG: I wish I spent more time standing over a tank participating in the making of beer, but I don’t. I am a Brand Ambassador for Great Lakes. It is a ton of fun as I represent the company at beer tastings, festivals, tap takeovers, and other events. Not a bad gig for a 24-year-old.
BOJ: What is your favorite type of brew? Do you have a favorite company product?
NG: Its hard for me to say what my favorite style of beer is as it changes seasonally. I really do like all styles, but I tend to lean toward IPA’s, sours, and any dark beer. With the beer market today, we have new beers coming out daily, so its hard for me to like any one style. My favorite year round beer that Great Lakes makes is our Edmund Fitzgerald Porter, and my favorite seasonal is our Alchemy Hour Double IPA.
BOJ: Where can beer lovers find Great Lakes Brewing Company products?
NG: If people are looking for our product in stores they can find our products in large grocery stores to small mom n’ pop stores.
BOJ: What is a GLBC get-together like? Are they a cab driver’s fantasy?
NG: A Great Lakes company get together is a blast. I have only partaken in one so far, but it was 80′s T.V. themed and we played games and talked about where the company is at and where it is going.
BOJ: In your advanced opinion, what makes a great beer?
NG: What makes a great beer in my opinion is the balance and finish of a beer. If a beer is to skewed towards hops without the right balance of malt, or too malty without any hop to balance out the malt, it just doesn’t work for me and a finish of a beer is the deal breaker.
BOJ: What makes the Great Lakes region such a hot spot for delicious inebriates?
NG: The passionate people in the Great Lakes region make it such an awesome place for foamy libations. Everyone in the region loves supporting their local craft breweries as well as other breweries in the region.
BOJ: What would you say to individuals looking to snag a job related to frothy, cold goodness?
NG: What I would say to other people looking to enter the dark side of the craft beer business is, is get ready to have fun.
BOJ: Enough about business. What is your favorite drinking game?
NG: My favorite drinking game is either Flip Cup or Beer Dodge.