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Dads Behind Texas Craft Breweries

June 16, 2019

“Dads are most ordinary men turned by love into heroes, story tellers, adventurers, coaches and singers of song.” – Pam Brown

 

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads, grand-dads, step-dads, single moms and father figures! In celebration of this special day, we interviewed dads who are making waves (and history) throughout the Texas brewery scene. We wanted to know what balance, inspiration and brewery operations look like from a father’s eyes.

 

A huge shout-out and thank you to the following dads who helped us shed a little light on fatherhood and brewery-hood:

 

Mike Peticolas - Peticolas Brewing Company

Jamie Fulton - Community Beer Co.

John Stecker - 4th Tap Brewing Cooperative (Happy 1st Father's Day, John!)

James Peery - Turning Point Beer

Dan Heinzerling - Humperdinks Brewery

Jake Donaldson - Method Architecture

Travis Lindner - Off Main Brewing

 

 

Flip through the pics in the slider below!

 

 

 

 

Balance: How do you balance being a father and being in the brewery business?

 

“It started with having our corporate values mirror our family values. When you have such alignment, a genuine connection between both are made and as a result the support each provide one another is natural.” – Mike Peticolas

 

“Well, we are still in the process of starting up, working our day jobs and being parents...that is to say, there's so much to balance. When does each take priority? How do you decide when to focus on each? For me, family comes first and as long as I keep that as the foundation for every choice I make, I think I am able to stay close to balance. That said, there isn't a solid, one size fits all answer...even from day to day it changes. So how do I do it? By making sure that every choice I make on how to spend my time is grounded in the fact that family comes first.” – Travis Lindner

 

“My priorities are God, family and my work, in that order.  It’s easy to balance work when I have a super-star wife that takes care of the home front during the day and an all-star crew at work that helps me row the Community Beer Co. boat.  

 

One of my friends from one of the largest breweries in the nation once told me the owner asked him, “Are you a brewer, or do you brew beer for a living?”  He asked him this because he didn’t really fit the typical brewer mold.  I fall into the latter category: I brew beer for a living.  Don’t get me wrong, I am extremely passionate about beer, I have dedicated my life to this industry, however, my priorities are with my family.  I don’t have a beard, a beer gut or stay out late at events related to brewing; I’m spending time with my three little boys (Jack: 11, Fritz: 9, Will James: 5) and my amazing wife Kelly.  It really is a balancing act though: as an owner/brewmaster, many people want to see me at events, but I have to spend my hours with my precious boys while I can still leave a lasting impression on them.  Instead of staying out late at events and such, I dedicate my time and expertise to the Texas Craft Brewers Guild by being a member of the Board of Directors and within this position, organize and present at the technical track for the Education and Safety Summit conference that we hold in July every year.” – Jamie Fulton

 

“I'm fortunate that my partner, Erin, also works here at the brewery and that 4th Tap maintains a strict "family first" policy. We either have our daughter (7 months) here at the brewery or at home with either her or myself. Just depends on what we've got going on each day. I wish I could say I balance it all on my own, but it's just not true. I have a great support group - friends, family, co-workers - who all help to keep me level.” – John Stecker

 

“How do you balance being a father and being in the brewery business? This is one of the most difficult parts of the job. I am fortunate to find myself in a situation where I have business partners who help me out at times. But there are times where my family has to sacrifice time with me so that I can take care of certain aspects of the business. When we building out it was very difficult, I would go 3 or 4 days without seeing my son because I'd be gone before he woke up and home after he went to bed. He actually started calling my brewery 'Daddy's House' which wasn't my favorite. I guess the most direct answer is you just have to choose who makes the sacrifice today, family or the business? If you can surround yourself in the business with competent people who can handle situations then you create an environment where you can be with your family.” – James Peery

 

“Stay disciplined with time management and focus.I make my weekends about my kids and family, and try to turn off my brain on work-related things.” – Jake Donaldson

 

 

Inspiration: Who in your life has inspired you to be a more present father?

 

My wife Melissa. Her actions and approach as a mom set a high bar. Plus, who doesn’t want to be a great father? – Mike Peticolas

 

“I have had a great deal of inspiration from the fathers around me, friends’ dads, my grandfathers, my father-in-law and especially my own dad. Every one of them has brought more into my life and taught me the biggest lesson I think any man can learn to become a better father, and that is that fathers are just men. They're real human beings. When we are growing up, we see the dads in our lives as these super heroes and as we become fathers ourselves, if we keep that mindset we can't feel anything but inadequate. Coming to the realization that they are just the same as we are allows us to believe that we can do it too. Being a father is messy. But realizing that the fathers before us were just the same as us, at least for me, helps us be better fathers.” – Travis Lindner

 

“Between my church and my wife, I’m not sure which is more inspiring.  Learning a Christ driven path to being a father is critical, understanding that teaching my boys what is important in this crazy world is up to me.  But my wife Kelly is such an incredible mother, so in tune with our children, she constantly inspires me to be a better dad. “ – Jamie Fulton


“There are a lot of men who are also fathers in my life. I've seen how to be a great father and, unfortunately but importantly, how to be a not-so great father. I try to learn from both.” – John Stecker

 

“My father was, and still is, an amazing dad. No matter how much stress or frustrations he dealt with at work, when he came home it was family time. He would play board games with myself and my brother and sister. He made sure that we knew he cared. He put forth a lot of effort into being present.” – James Peery

 

“It is my wife. She also works full-time, and we have worked very hard together to raise our daughters. She gets them up and ready for school every morning, allowing me to get to the brewery by 5:30 am. This means that I am able to pick them up from school every day. This also means that I am also the cook in the family, so I have a lot of go-to kid-friendly meals.” – Dan Heinzerling

 

“Growing up my dad was always tough, intense, and uncompromising in his values.  I didn’t fully appreciate those qualities until I got older.” – Jake Donaldson

 

 

Meal time: What's your go-to kid-friendly meal and what beer would you pair it with?

 

Hamburgers. All 5 of us can always agree on hamburgers. As for pairing, it depends on what else is on your burger, but a big strong IPA (like Sit Down or I’ll Sit You Down) provides a huge hop presence that pairs well with burgers with heat (i.e., chilis, jalepenos, etc.) – Mike Peticolas

 

“In trying to please one picky 4-year old who doesn't like to eat and one 1-year old who loves to chow...I think the meal they all agree on is mac and cheese. For me, I love the way our Oktoberfest Marzen pairs with even the most refined boxed man 'n cheese. Plus, it’s my favorite recipe of ours.”  – Travis Lindner

 

“My kids are not your usual picky eaters; they will devour ~$100 of raw fish sushi between them in minutes.  I’m not exaggerating.  So “kid friendly” is hard to apply to my rascals.  They all love when I make Salisbury steak and gravy and mashed potatoes, which goes pleasantly well with a fresh Community Beer Co. Mosaic IPA.” – Jamie Fulton


“Well, our daughter is only 7 months old so the go-to is a bowl of blueberry/veggie puree mixed with oatmeal. If I'm not drinking a coffee, I've got our Supernaut stout in hand.” – John Stecker

 

“Simply enough, pizza. My oldest loves pepperoni pizza. Pairs nicely with whichever lager we have on. Be it light, like a pilsner, or our bock.” – James Peery

 

“The most popular is probably my baked chicken wings and roasted vegetables. Humperdinks hefeweizen is a great beer pairing with this meal.”  – Dan Heinzerling

 

“Cheeseburger with a Buff Brew Crush City IPA.” – Jake Donaldson

 

 

Proud parent moment: When is a time in your life you've been most proud of your children?

 

“There are too many examples to narrow this down to one. Sports accomplishments, straight A’s every year so far, volunteer work, supporting other family members and friends. Take your pick.” – Mike Peticolas

 

“I think that it has to be every time I hear them playing together in the game room. When Reece is helping Teddy build something new or showing him how to play with a certain toy or helping him up when he falls. Knowing that they are building the bonds that will last their whole life is my favorite.” – Travis Lindner

 

“When my sons Jack and Fritz agreed to follow Jesus and his teachings, and be baptized in the Atlantic Ocean by my father-in-law Daren McGrew, a pastor in Charlotte, NC.  What an amazing, grown-up decision by such young men!  Easily the most important decision they will make in their life, and they chose wisely.” – Jamie Fulton


“She is so young so everything is new and everything is impressive. I will say that the first time I called her name and she looked right at me - that was a proud moment. Wild stuff.” – John Stecker

 

“Just recently my oldest saw a play-doh construction set he really wanted. So when he got money he wanted to buy it. We told him he had to save more money and he did. Any chance to help at the house and get some more money he would take it and then put the money in his jar. Then he had enough to go to the store and buy it. I was super proud because I know adults that can't do that.” – James Peery

 

“I am proud of my daughters every day. But, when they bring home report cards, I am never disappointed. ” – Dan Heinzerling

 

“My 6 year old son stood up for a girl in his class that was getting picked on by a bully.” – Jake Donaldson

 

 

Pay it forward: What advice do you have to share with current and future brewers/owners?

 

“Well, since I am the one that needs all the advice I can get...HA! I'll just say this. As we have been building this, from Davidson and now to Prosper...there have been so many times my faith in this journey has been tested. There have been numerous moments when doubt has started to creep in and it is hard to fight off sometimes. So that would be my advice to anyone looking to get into this. If it is what you want and you're willing to sacrifice for it, have the confidence in it. Don't be afraid to step back, take a breath, reassess your plan and then go after it harder than ever. But trust yourself. Plenty of people will tell you not to do something. Plenty of people will tell you that you’re crazy or the market is over-saturated (maybe that's true on a macro scale, but we can all find our niche somewhere). Don't be too proud to listen to what people have to say. But know how to filter it with a healthy dose of self confidence. The worst thing that could happen is it doesn’t go as planned and you walk away with lessons learned and experiences you can’t get in formal education. Corporate 9-5 will always be there. GO FOR IT!!” – Travis Lindner

 

“Plan on success.  What's the plan when you run out of room to grow?!  Be true and fair with your business partners and employees.  Lead by example: no one works their butt off for a lazy boss.  Keep the passion alive.  As Community has grown, I have found myself in tough spots of chasing mechanical issues and being full time maintenance guy.  Well, I finally hired a full-time maintenance position.  It’s easy to get caught up in day to day needs of the business, but you must keep the focus (whoever it may fall upon) on beer quality and innovation.” – Jamie Fulton

 

“Prepare yourself and your family to sacrifice. Make sure your family is willing to make that sacrifice. Owning a brewery means you own every job, and every problem. Whether it fits nicely into your schedule or it’s in the middle of family night.” – James Peery

 

“My advice to new dad's is to practice patience. Also, I don't feel it is my job to just make good decisions for my children, but to give them the tools and teach them how to make good decisions for themselves.” – Dan Heinzerling

 

 

Babies or breweries: Which is tougher to create and raise/maintain?

 

“We are raising both a brewery and babies right now...Babies are significantly harder on one person in the creation equation...and it ain't me. Creating our sons was the miracle of my life and I owe that to my wife. All I had to do was live with a pregnant lady...she created them. She is the real hero. Raising and maintaining them though, that's an us gig. I would say raising kids is tougher because we’ll always be raising them and supporting them in one way or another, even when they’re adults. At the end of the day, a brewery is just a business. Our kids are our everything – our hearts walking around outside of our bodies.” – Travis Lindner

 

 

“Fixing brewery machinery requires money, elbow grease and tools.

 

Raising children requires money, time, love, time, patience, time, understanding, and a whole lotta time.It takes a whole lot of amazing people to run my brewery.In the beginning, it was me and Aric Hulsey, that was it.Now there are nearly fifty employees at our brewery: that’s a whole lot of concentrated effort to run this thing.When things go bad, we can spread blame, when we have victories, we can celebrate together.But with my three little boys, the onus in completely on my wife and me.Decisions on how we raise them, fall completely on us, and we and our kids will suffer if we fail.Damn!

 

When my team makes a mistake in the brewery I often tell them, “Well, it’s a good thing we’re not heart surgeons!”Meaning of course that no one was hurt, this is just beer we’re dealing with.With kids, it’s much more challenging of course, they are all so different.They learn differently, they have different talents and shortcomings and it is up to you as parents to learn these and lead them through life, all this while being imperfect adults!That is why I believe it is critical to have God involved in their lives: where Kelly and I may get it wrong, God’s plan will make good.

 

So to answer the question, children are much more difficult!Machines don’t need to be read to at night.Business dealings close up at the end of the day (well packaging continues through the night!).Kids are always there, day and night, healthy and sick, hungry, growing, learning, questioning, challenging.It’s so much work, but never have you had such an amazing return as when you see they understand your teachings.” – Jamie Fulton

 

“Making a brewery is much tougher, months to years of planning and a lot of money up front, making babies requires a few extra beers and about 10 minutes. But raising and maintaining they are very similar. Both require a lot of attention at first and as they get older you can teach them how to do things on their own. Its very messy and stressful at first and you have to keep going regardless of the fact you don't know what you're doing.” - James Peery

 

“Raising children is harder than maintaining a brewery. There is nothing so complex as an individual human being.” – Dan Heinzerling

 

 

Dad's choice: If we asked your dad which of your beers was his favorite and why, what would he say?

 

“My dad is a hop head for sure and he loves our Exit 30 IPA.” – Travis Lindner

 

“My dad, Jerry Fulton, would tell you his favorite is Public Ale.  He loves it because it has great flavor without being too hoppy/bitter, and our English ale yeast gives it a very distinct fruity ester profile.  He also brags to everyone that it won back to back Gold Medals at Great American Beer Festival, can’t argue with him there!” – Jamie Fulton


“Kung Fu Robot IPA, for sure. Or maybe Highland Scoundrel Scotch Ale? He bounces between them. He always buys a 6-pack when he's at the store. Thanks Dad.” – John Stecker

 

“My dad's favorite beer of mine is my Imperial Porter.  He's never been a big beer drinker, but he does love coffee and espresso. One of our family traditions is to paint barrels that were once part of our barrel aging program.  Each of us takes 1/4 of the barrel.” – Dan Heinzerling

 

“Growing up my dad was a religious Pearl Light drinker.  But in the last 5 years or so I’ve been able to expand his palette with some great local craft brews.” – Jake Donaldson

 

 

Overall, fatherhood and brewery-hood share a lot in common. By staying grounded in your values, family priorities and faith, balancing both successfully can be done! Thanks again to everyone who shared their thoughts and experiences with us!

 

How are you celebrating Father's Day today? Checking out a local brewery? Grilling out on the patio? Enjoying an afternoon nap with your kiddos? Share with us on Instagram!

 

Cheers!

Laura

 

 

 

 

 

 

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