As we catch up with Ian, he’s just coming off his packaging shift. The team has just finished fixing our new boxing machine, which involved Mark Graves running out to grab a 100-ft ethernet cable so that the maintenance crew could remotely assess it and get everything fixed up!
“Ian is a force of nature,” Packaging Supervisor Paul Greer shares. “Not destructive, like a hurricane, but tenacious, steadfast and reliable. He harnesses an incredible amount of power while remaining very cool, calm, and collected. He’s working his ass off, working and going to school—I don’t know how he does it. He has really done well so far. His capacity for doing work you ask him to do and finding what needs to be done without being asked is commendable.”
Paul shared an example with us: “The other day, I had a really tough time with a new piece of equipment we put in. James and I were running around trying to get answers. Ian goes over to the cabinet with all the electrical and there in the bottom were some electrical schematics. He takes it out and starts reading it. He says, ‘This is where the connection needs to be.’"
Paul shakes his head. "Not only was that way cool, but I couldn’t decipher those. Ian said, ‘Oh, a summer or two ago I installed fireplaces for a guy, and all the ignitions were solid state. If you couldn’t read an electrical diagram, your job was harder. So I just kind of picked it up.’”
“Ian’s just that kind of guy,” Paul shares. “He’s also got great leadership skills—he’s someone who’s easy to follow. Eisenhower said great leaders get others to do what they want them to do, because they want to do it, and Ian commands a great deal of respect on the team.”
If you thought that was cool, just wait until you read more.
Ian is from Great Falls, Virginia, right outside of DC. We’re excited to chat with someone who has a different perspective outside of the tri-state area here in New Jersey, but we definitely didn’t expect just how incredible Ian’s story is, so strap in!
He was born in Arlington and then moved to Great Falls. Ian attended Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in Richmond and NOVA Community College for a bit, and now he’s back at VCU online.
“I’m taking ecology, environmental science, and zoology, with a focus on field sciences,” he says.
Ian really enjoys learning more about nature and the world around us, so he hopes to focus on animals, natural resources, or national parks in the future.
“Originally, I went to school for marketing, but I didn’t want to be in a cubicle all day every day,” he says. “I took a break and worked some, moved to Colorado for a bit, and then moved back and got a job as a catering event manager for eight years.”
Ian was in Colorado for a year around 2010: “I went to Telluride up in the mountains. Two of my friends from high school who are a year older than me had been out there after college. I was stagnant after deciding against marketing, so I was working odd jobs here and there.”
“It started to get more expensive, and there’s no college within a two hour drive, and online school wasn’t really a thing back then, so I came back to DC and got the catering job,” he says.
“I really enjoyed doing that. We would do big 1,000 to 5,000 people events, and then COVID stalled that, so I figured I should go back to school,” he says.
Ian admits that the role was fun, but definitely stressful, as there is a lot on the line to coordinate for big events.
“We would do events for property management groups, so the people who manage the buildings that a lot of Fortune 500 companies are in. We’d do events for Google, and even government events like NASA, NSA, and the FBI,” he shares.
They operated in the DC, Virginia, and Maryland-area, which allowed Ian to go to different places every day for work, including sports games and concerts.
One of his favorite events was for NASA, where he had the opportunity to talk to the staff and see some of the behind the scenes aspects.
(Ed. note: Color us incredibly jealous!)
For some events, like the NSA, Ian and his team would even have to get fingerprinted and get a background check to even enter the property.
COVID-19 quickly shut down major events, and since his company required a minimum of 500 people, Ian found himself quickly out of work in early 2020.
“I hung out for a little bit to see if it would come back, and my boss told me it likely wouldn’t come back for another year at the earliest,” he says. “Even now, they’re still pretty shut down, which sucks for them. They’re a good company; I really like them.”
“I thought, life’s short. I had a bunch of money saved up, and I was getting unemployment, so I went on a cross-country road trip for about five or six months. I drove 20,000 miles and did a bunch of national parks and hiking,” he says.
(Ed. note: Yeah, you read that right. A massive five/six month road trip! We had to get more of the details on that!)
“I love the wilderness. I grew up camping and hiking with my dad and grandfather,” he says. “That’s one of my biggest recreational activities.”
“I’m lucky because my parents house, where I grew up, is five minutes from Great Falls National Park, so that’s practically our backyard, so I could go up any day of the week and hike,” he says.
His cross-country trip included a lot of incredible spots, and he started his time in St. Louis.
“I went there to visit my best friend since the 3rd grade,” he says. “He got sent home from the Peace Corps because of COVID-19, so he was temporarily at home with his parents. They have a lake house, so that was nice.”
(Ed. note: Top-tier Missouri experiences happen at lake houses!)
“From there, I went out to Colorado to visit friends. I did Rocky Mountain National Park for four days, as well as Black Hills, a state park in South Dakota. Then I went to Yellowstone and Wyoming for a week—”
(Ed. note: Cue the opening theme music from the show Yellowstone…)
“—I also went to Grand Teton National Park for a week. After that, I went back to Denver and St. Louis and then down to Nashville,” he says.
Ian even made it all the way up to Portland, Maine to visit Acadia National Park!
He had an excuse to head back to Nashville, though. He got to spend some more time with his now-girlfriend! Ian and his girlfriend Haley met in Colorado through mutual friends.
“Haley’s from Nashville, and she got furloughed also. In September of 2020, I moved her from Nashville up here to Jersey. Her sister is in the Coast Guard here,” he says. “They’d been apart for eight years. Haley didn’t have anything tying her down anymore, and that’s how we found ourselves in Cape May.”
Grand Teton and Yellowstone were a few highlights for him on that trip.
“I did a crazy 20-mile hike by myself up this mountain,” he says. “It took about five hours, so it was pretty quick. It was estimated to take 8-10 hours, but I was trekking pretty quickly. I was hiking in grizzly territory, and since I was by myself, that made me a little nervous. I had bear spray and all that, so it was fine.”
(Ed. note: Umm…did he just say grizzly territory?)
“It was in July, so it was warm but there were still snow-covered peaks on the mountain,” he says. “Rocky Mountain National Park is always great; I’ve been there a lot before. I’d never been to Grand Teton.”
“Traveling alone I feel like you have a different connection to nature. There’s no distractions, so you can just be there, completely present in the moment. There’s something special about that,” he shares.
“A lot of bad things have happened, and the pandemic has upended people’s lives, but I’m super thankful and feel blessed to have been able to take that time off, do my own thing and travel my own path,” he says.
We’ll get into some more of Ian’s adventures in a bit, but we had to ask what was on his bucket list that he still wants to do.
“I really want to do the Mount Everest Base Camp,” he says. “Obviously not the top. But you can take two weeks, and it’s semi-intense, but doesn’t involve any actual ice climbing. I also want to summit Mount Rainier in Washington, which you can hike the whole way. You take ice picks on that hike, but there’s no vertical ice climbing.”
(Ed. note: Just, uh, chiming in here to say that Mount Rainier is an active volcano with an elevation over 14,000 feet. That’s some badass stuff!)
“My dad took me out there when I was younger, and that imprinted on me: the wonder and amazement of nature,” he shares. “When I was about 15, we went back and hiked about 10 miles on it, but didn’t summit it.”
Ian credits his parents for his love of traveling.
“My dad traveled a lot when he was younger. In between college and grad school, he went to the Peace Corps in the Philippines and hitchhiked across Europe. He traveled to Nepal, Thailand, and Vietnam, too. Hearing stories and seeing pictures from back then always inspired me,” he says.
“My mom works at Georgetown University, and her second job she works for Cultural Care Au Pair, so she assigns au pairs to families. They have two conferences a year, one in the states and one international. It used to be that her and my dad would fly for free, and my siblings and I would fly at a 50% discount. They took us to a lot of countries. They always pushed traveling, seeing the world and experiencing different cultures,” he says.
“It grew on me. I’d skip going out to the bar with friends and wasting a bunch of money or buying stuff I didn’t need, and I’d just save and try to do a big trip every year. I did some with friends and others alone,” he says.
Some of the places Ian has been to include: England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Germany, Poland, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Mexico, Canada, 47/50 states, South Africa, the Caribbean, the Virgin Islands, the Dominican Republic…
(Ed. note: Cue our jaw dropping to the floor. He didn’t even hesitate listing all of these out!)
The three US states he hasn’t been to yet? North Dakota, Minnesota, and Alaska.
“Over the holidays, my dad was like, I’ve been to 49 states, I win. My sister said, no, if you’ve just driven through, that doesn’t count. My brother countered, ‘What if you drive through for six hours and see a lot of what the state has to offer?’”
Ian admits that he falls somewhere in the middle of that debate!
“If you’re driving for a long time or you take some cool scenic backroads and aren’t just flying down the highway not paying attention, you can take in the scenery or stop for lunch or an attraction. I think that counts,” he says with a smile.
“I’ve been lucky to know friends studying abroad, too. When I went to South Africa, my best friend since third grade was there in the Peace Corps. We coordinated for the first year and a half. He saved vacation days and I saved money, and we took a month and did a 4,000 mile round trip across South Africa,” he says.
(Ed. note: That’s some commitment, but what a wild experience!)
“That’s probably my favorite trip so far. We got to do a little bit of everything, including safaris, cage diving with great white sharks, bungee jumping off the second highest bridge in the world, and seeing the Hogsback Mountains, which is where J. R. R. Tolkein grew up, and the forest there inspired a lot of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings,” he says.
“Just seeing jungle and desert, and jumping in both the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean, and seeing all the wild animals—that was definitely a once in a lifetime trip,” he says.
As you can probably tell, Ian has done a TON of things in his life so far, but cage diving with sharks is probably one of his craziest adventures so far.
“Maybe that and the 20-mile hike in grizzly territory by myself,” he says with a smile. “I’m definitely an adrenaline seeker. I don’t push the limits too much, though.
“It makes you feel alive and present in the moment and everything else external just fades away and you can just be super grateful to be blessed and live in this amazing world.”
(Ed. note: We don’t know about you, but we all need more of those moments right now!)
Now, Ian is enjoying some of the more quiet, laidback aspects of life.
He mentions that living in the Villas is a nice change of pace from the hustle and bustle of DC.
“It’s nice being at the beach. We can walk to the bay,” he says. “People are more relaxed here.”
As for finding his way to CMBC, Ian worked for UPS as a driver helper for a bit, and also did hardscaping over the summer, but he’s always loved craft beer and hadn’t had a chance to work for a brewery until now. We’re thankful that he applied for one of our Packaging Operator positions!
“It’s been really cool seeing behind the scenes—all of the work that goes into making beer that you love consuming,” he says. “I also get to help out Brian, James, and Mark with some of the stuff in the cellar, like yeast harvests and helping with transfers and dry hopping.”
“It’s super interesting and it’s very engaging. I like working with all the machines and learning new things. Especially with the dry hopping. It's nice having actual, physical input on what will be the finished product,” he says.
“Everybody is awesome and super welcoming,” he shares. “ That was one of the first things I noticed. They’re happy to teach if you’re happy to learn, and it seems like an awesome industry. This is definitely a great company to work for.”
When he’s not working (or traveling!), Ian is big on sports, movies, and music.
“I love sports. I played several growing up,” he shares. “I was going to play basketball in college, and then I broke my foot in half in a bad accident. They wanted to do surgery, and I didn’t think it was worth all the plates and screws and all that. But I love watching basketball, football, lacrosse, and baseball. I played all of those in high school.”
His favorite basketball team is the Lakers.
“I grew up with Kobe Bryant as my hero. I’ve always been a Lakers fan since I was little, and then I’m all DC teams,” he says. “Like the Washington football team. Unfortunately we suck, and then there’s the Nationals and the Capitals. I was in DC when both teams won championships. I actually got to go to the World Series with my dad, who was super stoked. I grew up playing baseball with my dad and he played in college, so it was a really cool experience.”
(Ed. note: The World Series! How cool is that?!)
Some of his favorite movies include sci-fi and thrillers.
“Interstellar and Arrival are two of my favorites, and I liked Tenet and Dune. I grew up watching Alien, so I love Ridley Scott. For thrillers, my recent favorite is Parasite. One of my best friends from high school is Korean. He actually went over there for a year in high school and when he came back, he was showing me all these Korean movies. Some of the best movies have subtitles and are foreign,” he shares.
His love of music coincides with his traveling, as he often plans trips to see live music as well.
“One of my favorite bands is Disco Biscuits. They’re actually from Philly. They play live instruments, but it’s heavily electronic influenced. I’ve seen them 65 times, all over the world, including Mexico, the Dominican Republic, and all over the states,” he says.
“As far as bigger bands, I’ve seen Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pearl Jam, and Rage Against the Machine. I got to see James Brown before he died at the 9:30 Club in DC,” he says. “That was really cool.”
“I like everything except for country music. I’ll listen to DJs, electronic, jam bands, regular rock, jazz, funk—just a really wide musical variety. My parents definitely showed me a lot of different things when I was younger,” he says.
Ian’s very first CMBC beer is a pretty cool one: Our Tiny Drink Umbrella: Piña Colada!
“I really like a lot of the fruited or sour beers,” he says. “I love Key Lime Corrosion and Snag & Drop and Coastal Evacuation. I like a lot of IPAs and Pale Ales. Bay Daze is really good, too. Really, all the sours and IPAs I’ve tried from CMBC are great.”
We’re glad you think so, Ian! We’re so stoked to have him on our team. He’s incredibly thoughtful and insightful, and he makes the perfect addition to our production team. Next time you happen to see him around Cape May or at the Tasting Room, make sure to say hi!