Brewer Spotlight: Brothers Craft Brewing
Posted on March 11, 2019
Brewer: Chris Ward
How long have you worked at the brewery? A bit over 4 years
How did you get involved in brewing? I started homebrewing when I was 19 or 20 and I got the bug. I have always been interested in cooking (nearly went to culinary school in Manhattan), so brewing was a natural fit. I have a pretty great palate and I love coming up with new flavor combinations in cooking, so when I realized I could do that while making beer I fell in love. It would take the better part of a day to tell the story of how I got where I am, but the simple version is that I was determined to make a career of brewing so I got in the industry in sales, worked into taproom management, then went to production, and now I am the head brewer at Brothers.
Tell us something people don’t know about your brewery: The thing that people may not know, that I feel is incredibly important, is our philanthropic work. It may not be widely known because we don’t do it for notoriety, but helping other people truly brings joy and gives us purpose. It is deeply rooted in who we all are, and the brewery gives us the opportunity to increase our reach in terms of giving back. From monthly casks for a cause, to food drives, to Christmas toy drives and even events trying to gather school supplies, we really make it our mission to give back as much as humanly possible.
What’s your favorite food and beer combo: I love food (imagine that) and I love beer (more breaking news), and I really love pairing food with beer. I am from New York originally so I would be remiss if I didn’t mention pizza and beer. It may be cliche but if you get a proper slice and put it next to a pint of Lil’ Hellion (our double gold medal winning, best in show in Virginia, Helles Lager) that is a beautiful thing. Beer is so versatile when pairing with food, that is what makes it so fun. A nice pale ale like Great Outdoors with an arugula salad with a raspberry vinaigrette (as made by my dear friend Dexter Burgess of CrossKeys Vineyard) is a beautiful combo. I like a nice hearty red or brown ale with an incredibly rare cut of red meat, preferably tenderloin, preferably elk. Really though, what is better than dessert? Give me something rich and full of chocolate and pair it with a barrel-aged imperial stout like Resolute and I can die a happy man. It’s really no wonder I am fat, haha!
Tell us about any pets you have: Talking about my pets is among my favorite things to do! I have a Norwegian Forest cat named Arwen who comes 2nd only to my wife in my heart. She is beautiful and fluffy and has the loyalty of a dog. She runs to the door the second I get home from work and spends the rest of the evening by my side. I also have another cat named Floki. He is tremendous and has feet similar to a kangaroo which he uses to stand up and observe the movements of the room. He talks constantly and suffers from some cat anxiety which makes me love him even more. We are working on adding a rottweiler to the mix who will be named Sirius.
What is your favorite thing to do in the Shenandoah Beerwerks Trail footprint?: I really enjoy the food scene around here. There are so many great places both known and unknown. So many cuisines are represented as well, so that adds to the number of options. In addition to food, the number of breweries/vineyards/distilleries gives plenty of great options. Other than that, the best thing is to spend some time in the great outdoors.
What’s the best way to spend time in the outdoors in the Shenandoah Valley? I love it all honestly. I grew up spending my summers in the Catskills/Adirondacks and up in Maine in Acadia National Park, so I love hiking, and we certainly have plenty of great options there. Drifting down the river, fishing, camping, hunting. I love being outside and this area is truly remarkable for that reason.