I met Jeff a couple of years ago when we both started the Prud’Homme program. Last year both of us graduated from the Prud’Homme Beer Sommelier level together.
Here’s a bit about Jeff and what he has been up to, and some of his beer thoughts.
Where are you working and what is your role there?
I’m currently working for UBC Group as the director of sales for Ontario and Western Canada. UBC Group is a manufacturer and distributor of Draught Beer cooling/dispensing equipment and promotional materials. We manufacture everything from keggerators and beer towers to ceramic tap handles and illuminated globe signs.
I understand you have been doing a lot of travelling for your job, can you expand on that?
Its important for me to stay on top of industry trends and happenings so I try to go to as many tradeshows, events and festivals as possible. In September I was at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver which hosted 470 breweries all under one roof. In November I went to Nuremburg Germany for the Brau Beviale tradeshow and for the new year I have plans to go to Ukraine to tour the UBC Group production facilities.
How did you get into the beer scene/industry?
After my second year of university I landed a job with Labatt’s working as a summer sales and marketing representative. I’m not sure how much I actually learned about beer that summer but it was a great experience and pretty much a dream job for any student.
Do you have any experience brewing your own beer? If so can you tell me what you have brewed and some of the challenges or great brews that have come out of it?
I started homebrewing about 6 months ago with a few buddies using the Coopers extract can kits. We’ve made three batches so far which turned out pretty good and I tried to brew my own pumpkin ale which was a disaster. My goal for the New Year is to learn more about the entire brewing process and slowly switch to brewing all grain batches by the summer.
As a graduate of the Roger Mittag’s Prud’Homme course what were some of the things that you learnt that you benefited from?
From learning about beer starting with basic history and styles then moving towards group tastings and eventually into more sensory evaluation and education I found the Prud’homme courses to be an invaluable asset to anyone working in the beer industry. I started out in the level one course with what I thought was a pretty good knowledge of the industry but Roger’s courses really challenged me and gave me a whole new appreciation for the world of beer. I’m constantly using what I’ve learned from those courses to help me become better at my current job.
Have you ever converted a ‘non-beer’ drinker to beer? How?
I cooked a full three course “beer dinner” for my girlfriend and her parents over the Christmas Holidays. Starting with a blue cheese and wheat beer salad dressing to ending off with a strong ale caramel poached pears for dessert I’m not sure I fully “converted” my girlfriend’s Mom but she definitely enjoyed the meal and was impressed.
Where is your favourite spot to have a beer?
Anywhere with good friends and preferably while on vacation.
Any favorite beers you’ve been enjoying this winter?
Lots, and the seasonal beers coming out of Ontario this year have been fantastic!
Any beer trends you predict for Canada 2012? Or any trends in beer you would like to see?
It’s really disappointing to see how little people actually know about beer and I think this year there will be a huge push towards beer education and informing consumers more about Canada’s favourite beverage.
I would also really like to see regulations put into place regarding line cleaning and how draft beer is served in an on-premise restaurant/bar environment. Very few people actually know how beer gets from keg to glass and the steps that are involved in order to ensure you are getting a pint of beer the way the brewmaster intended. All I ever ask for when I’m out at a restaurant is to be served a pint of beer the way the brewmaster intended and its surprising to see how little that happens. Companies like betterbeer.com are starting to do a good job of this.