The End of a Crazy Year

January 2, 2012

All I can say about 2011 is ‘wow’. This past year turned into quite a wild ride that I never could have anticipated. At this time last year I unemployed and spending my days volunteering my time at Custom Brewcrafters while living in Fairport. I was comfortable with the risk I had taken by jumping into the brewing industry, and was really happy with my experiences at the brewery. My future was starting to be less muddled in the fog of uncertainty.

It wasn’t just that simple, though. Having abandoned the lucrative defense industry, I was making my entire financial future a hell of a lot more uncertain. That fact has provided most of the stress I’ve had during the year. I’m financially back on my feet now, while being able to put away a little money every month into savings, so I’m off to a good start.

It’s safe to say that 2011 was almost entirely focused on beer for me, which is pretty awesome. Between the internship, brewing school, and the current brewing job, beer and brewing have permeated my life and I’m really happy about that. All I could ever think about at my desk at ITT was the next batch of homebrew, when I’d be able to have cash saved to quit my job and go to brewing school, what would be needed to open a brewery of my own, etc. Now those things ARE my life, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Those three months at the beginning of 2011 where I was away at brewing school were huge. I was able to get away from all my routines and the places I’m familiar and comfortable with, and was forced into a new environment with new people. This shakeup in my life was important because I’m extremely bad about falling into patterns and never venturing away from my comfort zone. Getting away from Rochester and spending my days surrounded with 40 new people who were all focused on brewing was refreshing and kept me on my toes.

Spending a month in Germany, and visiting other countries on some of the weekends, helped add a lot of perspective to my outlook on the world and forced me way outside of my comfort zone. The whole experience was kinda like going off to college: moving to a completely unfamiliar area, being surrounded all the time by people that I don’t know, being stuck in class all day, and spending my free time partying and trying to forget the fact that tomorrow will bring more classes. It let me get away from all my responsibilities as an adult, enjoy myself, make new friends, and have a series of awesome experiences that I’ll never forget. Siebel was probably the best three month stretch of my life.

Once back from all of that, I had to re-situate myself in Rochester and get used to the daily grind again, which took a while. The whole job search thing was the least appealing thing I had to do. I wasn’t looking forward to the fact that I’d likely need to move away from the area, leaving my friends and sense of familiarity with my surroundings behind. It was less stressful than my previous job searches, though, cause I knew I was going to get a paying job that involved brewing, and that thought kept me going through all of it.

The final really major event of the year was getting the job I’m working at now. Sitting in Fairport’s laundromat on North Main Street in the middle of June, I got that call from Cheri giving me the official offer from Ommegang. And it was for starting as a brewer rather than a low level monkey on the bottling line. That was incredible… the first American craft brewery that I fell in love with when I started drinking better beer back in 2004-2005 was offering me a job! It was one of those moments where you realize you’ve made some really good decisions with your life and they’re starting to pay off.

Getting myself moved out to Cooperstown and really settling in took some time this summer. Finding a place to move into in a vacation town during the peak of their season is kinda rough, as you could imagine. Eventually, everything worked out and I’ve been pretty settled and stable for a while now.

In the end, this year was marked by a lot of transitions. I’ve transitioned to a new industry, a new location, a new job, and several very different work schedules. On top of that, I’ve seen some major changes in me, personally. As any of my friends know, I’ve typically had a somewhat negative outlook on life, including a very pessimistic view of the future and very negative opinion of myself. It’s the way I’ve been for a long time, and spending four years hating waking up in the morning while working at that crappy job at ITT didn’t help. This year has seen me move significantly in a positive direction from all of that negativity. Having a job that I actually like, and that I look forward to going to everyday, is a huge plus and makes life so much easier to deal with. On top of that, my general outlook is much more upbeat these days. I’m generally pretty happy, I have a lot of confidence that the future is going to bring really good things, and I’m really pleased with where my life is and where it’s headed.

It would be irresponsible of me to talk about 2011 without thanking Bruce, J.P., and Jason for letting me get my foot in the door in the brewing industry. My time at Custom Brewcrafters was awesome, and I’ll always look back on it with great fondness. And I know they appreciated the help, as they hired a full time guy to do all the stuff I had been doing a month after I left. 🙂

I have a really good feeling about 2012, and am pretty positive that I’ll be in an even better position at the end. Here’s to a great new year. Cheers!

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