I was intrigued by Sam’s blog, so I contacted him to learn more about his experiences. It lead to this interview:
Tell me a little about yourself.
Sam Tierney: Well, I’m 24 years old and grew up in Santa Cruz, California. Was big into playing music, both classical and jazz vocal music in school and playing guitar, singing, and writing music for my rock band, Paradise Grey. I was also an avid surfer (we actually have high school surf teams in Santa Cruz), played soccer, volleyball, and ran track and field.
I had my first beer drinking session when I was a junior in high school, puked my guts out, and didn’t touch beer again until I went to college at UC Santa Barbara. I studied political science with an emphasis in international relations and became interested in beer while I was studying abroad in Sweden during my Junior year. I was only there for four months but managed trips to Oktoberfest in Munich, Amsterdam, Prague, Stockholm, and Berlin—all places with rich brewing history and culture. I came back to California as a certified beer geek and started homebrewing soon after that, trying every beer I could get my hands on.
How did you decide to pursue a career in the craft beer industry?
ST: During my senior year, I studied for a quarter in Washington DC in a last-ditch effort to see if I wanted to spend the rest of my life working in politics. I was pretty beer-obsessed by this time. I met a guy at a beer tasting who was the assistant brewer at a local brewpub and he invited me to check out the brewery. After seeing the inner workings of a commercial brewery, I started to think seriously of pursuing brewing as a profession. When I got back to Santa Barbara for my last quarter, I interned at Telegraph Brewing Co. and found that I enjoyed the small-brewery environment.
You recently graduated from the Siebel Institute of Technology. Can you tell me about Siebel’s program?
|Bottle conditioning room at Orval in Belgium|
ST: When considering the best approach to getting a job in the industry, several people recommended going to brewing school. I’ve always been academically-minded and going to school for something that I was already so passionate about was an easy choice. The UC Davis Extension Master Brewers Program was the obvious choice because it’s only a few hours drive from Santa Cruz. I took a year off and worked full-time in fire and natural resource management to save money. It turned out that Davis was absolutely slammed with applicants and I was going to have to wait two years to get in. I had casually looked into Siebel because it was all the way in Chicago, but I found out that I could get into the fall 2010 class. Plus, the Siebel program included studying in Germany.
|Sam (2nd from left) at the Stone Total Tap Takeover Tour in Chicago|