Friday, May 6, 2011

Week #18 - Jason Ingram

The world of Craft Beer is made of an intricate web of stories, personalities, and backgrounds. The people that create that web have so many things in common when it comes to beer, but often bring a huge variety of other interests and tales to the table when it comes to the world outside of our precious liquids. Jason Ingram is one of those folks with some really cool tales. His connection to some of the great unsung heroes of American music is fascinating, which makes conversation over a beer really interesting. No one had ever broken down the lyrics to a Robert Earl Keen song to me or transformed a bar in the Outer Banks into a Honky Tonk before my very eyes until I started to hang out with Jason. And know this, nothing stands between him and the Auburn Tigers.

Always running hard to bring the beers of Left Hand Brewing Company to the Carolinas and points further south, Jason's dedication to serving the craft beer community is remarkable and the beer he's out there selling is some of the best in the country.

How long have you been working for Left Hand?

I started with Left Hand in May of 2009.

What led you to the beer business?

My first job out of college was in Marketing in the front office of the Atlanta Braves. I loved the job. I realized that I always needed to work in an industry that I was passionate about. From an early age (drinking age) I seemed to like better more interesting beers. I completely fell in Love with Craft Beer and specifically the idea of small companies that turned to the ultimate American success story. I knew that I needed to be a part of this crazy industry. I also realized that I was not a going to be a brewer, but my talents were in discussing beer and getting people excited about it.

There can definitely be some challenges to working hundreds of miles away from your brewery, but growth in far off lands certainly comes with its own set of rewards. If you had your preference would the brewery be right in your back yard or as far away as it is?

That is very true that sometimes I face disadvantages being away from the brewery. If I need any supplies or would like to take someone by to see it, it would be nice if that were accessible. But Left Hand is located in beautiful and fun Colorado so I am always super excited to get to visit. So it also has its advantages as well.

What are some things that people probably don't know about Left Hand, but should?

Just how small we actually are. We are growing at a brisk pace but most people have not the slightest idea that although we sell beer in around 30 states … we only have around 35 employees. We have a great set of folks that work extremely hard to make world class beer. It is a challenge but we are all so in love with what we do.

What's your favorite thing about working for Left Hand....and what's your favorite beer from the brewery?

I love so many things but specifically about Left Hand would probably be the way in which we as employees are treated. I really feel a true since of partnership within the company. It motivates me to do my best and pull my weight to continue to grow along with Left Hand. Favorite beer changes with whatever hour of the day it is. At this moment: Nitro Sawtooth. An American ESB on a nitro pour with an ABV in the 4% range is floating my boat.

What are some of your favorite places to go out for a beer in your territory?

I am spoiled in that I live only a couple of miles from the famous Brick Store Pub. But in addition: Red Light Red Light and The Ravenous Pig in Orlando. Datz Deli in Tampa. 8oz Burger Bar in South Beach (We sell Milk Stout draft on South Beach Miami… how cool is that? Craft beer is everywhere). 12 South Taproom in Nashville. The Porter Beer Bar in Atlanta. The J-Clyde in Birmingham. A whole bunch of others.

And when you need to get away from the beer world? What do you do for fun?

Funny as even when I am on vacation and not working I always try to find the local brewery or brewpub to visit. I love beer too much to ever really get away from it. Even when I do not feel like drinking beer I never tire from talking about craft beer. That is how I know I am in the right job. That said I love Auburn Football more than life. So my interests are My Wife, Sports, and Craft Beer. And depending on what mood she is in is how they get ranked :)

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