Beer has brought me good times over the years, sure, but I see I something more powerful than just a vehicle for blurred memories. Beer has expanded the way I think about things and the way I see myself. It’s changed things so much for me in fact that a while back I sent Carl a cold e-mail, basically saying “Hey man, I like what you guys do and how you do it. I want to learn about this crazy industry and I’d like the opportunity to do so with you guys.” A week later, I came into the brewery and had an interview to discuss the potential for an internship.
In conversation, I told Carl that I needed a serious life change and that I wanted to get into the beer world. I graduated from Northeastern University with a Bachelor’s in Music in 2016 and was (still am) pursuing a Master’s from SNHU in New Media Communication, but despite these fancy pieces of paper that say I did a thing, I felt unsatisfied with where things were heading. I told Carl I wanted to get my hands dirty because that’s what suits my personality best.
You see, I’m a shy dude. I like to tinker with things, I don’t mind getting sweaty, but most importantly, I like to constantly challenge myself and learn new things. When I told Carl this, he grinned this grin of his, we shook hands and within a few weeks I was Able’s newest teammate – Max the intern.
That was at the beginning of 2017. Carl and I discussed an internship term of “maybe three to four months” with me coming in once a week or so – recognizing that I was balancing another job and my academic schedule.
If you’re reading this now, you might be asking yourself, “hey, its nearly the end of 2017. Why the hell is this kid writing a blog post about his experience now?”
Well, I’m still here helping make the beer you love. This is the story of how my three-month internship turned into a nearly year long apprenticeship at Able Ebenezer.
I think my first day at the brewery I helped Jake clean out one of the brite tanks. He handed me a hose and a flashlight and said, “use the light to see where you’re spraying, you want to get all the foam to drain out before we run the CIP process. But whatever you do, don't stick your head directly into the tank.”
“What happens if I do?” I asked curiously.
“You’ll pass out.” Jake said with a smile. “I definitely didn’t make that mistake on my first day…”
I was learning things already.
The following week, I went out on the road with Chris to make deliveries to several the various bars, restaurants and craft retailers that Able self-distributes to. He gave me the run-down on Able’s internal distribution structure and how it integrates into the manufacturing process back in Merrimack. He told me about all the regulations and legal systems in-place with the state and how Able’s self-distro model fits itself into the industry. I was enamored – I still am.
In the several weeks after, I spent my time at the brewery helping Jake fill Quart cans while watching “The Price is Right.” As we packaged-up the endless cases of Victory and BtS, I stared through the glass window that separates the Ale Room from the brewery, watching Mike and Carl make magic happen mere feet away.
Not long after Able transitioned away from retail distribution of Quarts, I asked Carl if I could spend time on the other side of the glass with him and Mike. He said, “sure, bring your bathing suit and boots next week. You’re going to get messy.”
The first time I crawled into the mash-tun, Carl snapped a picture, thinking it was amusing to watch this kid get his hands dirty. Every week for the past five or more months, I’ve spent my days at Able hauling and scrubbing grain from the mash, cleaning the boil, running CIPs, mopping floors, learning about the process and assisting in the million little things that happen at Able when the doors are locked. I usually pick Mike and Carl’s brains each week, asking about a different part of the brewing process – trying to absorb as much of the science and creativity behind what goes into making three ingredients into liquid excitement.
So, I guess I still haven’t answered the initial question of “why am I still here?”
The answer is simple really, and you know it already. I come back each week for the same reason you’re reading this blog. For the same reason you drink Able’s beers when you’re out and about. For the same reason you come to the brewery for a pint. For the same reason you tell your friends about Able.
It’s because of the people.
The six folks who make up Able’s operation are surely some of the best people I’ve had the experience to work alongside. Whether it be Jim and I talking about our mutual love for Galaxy hops and how we want to experiment with maple sap, helping Heather set-up the Ale Room before I leave after brewing, the hours of “Price is Right” I watched with Jake, the conversations I have with Chris about music and our favorite bands, Carl and I’s shared suffering during the mash tun cleaning, or Mike asking me about the meaning of life and the quest for happiness – I really have enjoyed all of the tiny components that make up a hard day’s work at Able.
Listen, I’m not a sappy guy, so this the intent of this isn’t to be sappy, the intent is to be truthful. So, with full honesty, I can say that I’ve loved coming into this repurposed car battery warehouse every week to expand my mind and to become a valued quasi-member of Able’s team. Like I said, the term of my internship was supposed to be just a few months, but it unconsciously has turned into a near year-long apprenticeship.
I come back each week because I want to; it just feels right. I feel valued by everyone on the team. I’ve watched the brand take gargantuan steps this year and plan for even bigger things for the future. Because of their bestowed value, I selfishly feel microscopically responsible for their growth; like I’m a part of it what they do and how they do it. To be honest, it’s a remarkable feeling; a special one.
The reason I turned this internship into a year long apprenticeship is because I wanted to (and Carl never told me to leave). Every week has been something exciting or something challenging, but despite any hurdle we face, the Able team puts their heads together and works to create a powerful solution. I’ve loved watching it, and I’ve loved being able to learn here.
Truly, this is meant to be a thank you to the six amazing folks who make Able Ebenezer Brewing Co. a thing everyday, and a larger thank you to the people on the outside who support the work these intellectual jokesters do every day to make a splash in this funky industry.
Thank you all. Cheers.