He wanted to be a racecar driver. And a firefighter…and a chef. And well, he became all three, PLUS a licensed EMT and then decided to open a brewery alongside his friend, Peter Manthei. Growing up in Petoskey Ben has fulfilled his childhood ambitions and is taking them further every year. Starting with a home-brew system in a garage, he is now co-founder and owner of Beards Brewery, a pub with a one bbl brewing system, as well as a 15 bbl production facility in Charlevoix, MI. In his non-existent free time he competes in rally, fights fires for City of Petoskey, cooks (and brings in leftovers if you trick him), and thinks about traveling. His better half, his non-guard dog Ava, can be seen around town helping Ben run errands while accosting friendly townsfolk. His superpowers include looming, creating super-intense and terrifying spreadsheet formulas, hoarding pasties from Jean Kay’s, whisper-screaming in your ear while pouring beer, and making spectacular blanket forts with his girlfriend, Kirstyn. Ben prefers the darker side to craft beverages, his favorites being English Stouts and Porters.
A-TEAM cohorts: Ava, Jiro Ono, Sebastion Loeb
The bearded half of Beards Brewery (*note: both Ben and Peter had beards upon first opening), Peter Manthei is another everything man and Petoskey native just like his partner. He says he’s always dreamt big, and he also knew he wanted to be an entrepreneur growing up. For example, instead of the customary, “I want to be an astronaut when I grow up,” Peter had dreams of starting his own space company. And sure, he may have gone to school for English Literature, but that was purely to feed his creative nerdiness. So now, Peter brews, he buys things, he talks to important people, he leads meetings—all of the admirable doer tendencies that come with owning a business. In doing all of these neat things, he likes to involve his cats (Earl Grey, Tarmac, Ginseng) and I guess his wife, Kari, as much as possible. Peter balances out his fuzzy side by listening to metal. He’s great at verbal enthusiasm, real estate management factoids, wearing pea coats, and not running EVER.
A-TEAM cohorts: Earl Grey, Ginseng, and Tarmac (duh)
Problem Solver Numero Uno. The Warrior Queen. El General. She has many titles around the world. She possesses a certain, unique skillset. If you get a call from her, know that she might be coming for you. No, she’s not Liam Neeson—she’s Kathleen, the General Manager here at Beards! I call her Beyoncé because she slays. Indeed, her fierceness leads our pub staff to excel in service and awesomeness. Her origins trace back to Rochester Hills, but she could not deny forever the siren call of northern Michigan. Apparently all of her worldly organizational skills don’t apply to her own life, but I’m convinced she lives at Beards anyways so who gives a whoop. Her trusty sidekick Wally, a grizzly brown carebear of a dog, is the best office mate ever (he’s friends with owner Ben’s dog, Ava), inspiring Kathleen to work hard and laugh about the madness of life with his adorable (yet fierce) little woofs. In her free time (come November), she enjoys combining Bacardi Gold & Vernors, playing rummikub with her mum, Diane, and laughing with her brothers. She loves Kid Rock and the Lifetime channel—and yes, we can only forgive her for one of those. If she had a beer named after her, it would be called “Chimkoka,” a relic of her MSU days, and it would be a Red Ale.
A-TEAM COHORTS: Michael Chimko, Paul Chimko, Wally
Put ‘em up! Put ‘em up! If you don’t put your hands up when Jared Clendening passes you by, then you will suffer the biggest high five loss of your life. This king of 5 to 10 fingers rocks it out at the Beards pub as the front man—the Front of the House that is. He is the Solange to Kathleen’s Beyonce and together they run a tight ship, maybe someday a dance crew. Originally hailing from Holland, home of wooden clogs, tulips, and, apparently, something called the Dutch Mafia, he now calls Petoskey home. He used to have ambitions of being a musician or actor, and hey, maybe that’s why he’s always wearing his shades? Anyways, we’re glad he chose the craft beer dream instead. In his free time, Jared enjoys golfing, hiking, watching The Notebook—all of these with beer in hand, of course. He’s great at making people laugh (whether he means to or not) and we are very fond of how much he does NOT enjoy being on camera. His favorite beer style is the IPA so it’s no wonder he would name his custom Double IPA “The Big J (really, Jared?).”
A-TEAM COHORTS: Albert Einstein, Jerry Garcia, Malcolm X
Kaitlin Irene, yet she goes by KT because who has time for more than two letters, or vowels, for that matter? She doesn’t. She’s too busy working as the Beards Pub Assistant Manager…and maybe also too busy watching cheesy rom-coms and reading horror novels—American Gods FTW! KT also likes to jam out to all sorts of tunes while spending time with her pup Brewster and boyfriend Chaz. She excels at NEVER EVER getting brain freezes—a huge plus; but she has been called the ugliest crier ever—a huge negative? Maybe? Whatever, when she cries, it’s real. She has given the Beards team some of the best Pandora radio stations: Hip Hop BBQ, her nickname (longer than her actual name, weird), will forever reign as the best motivational clean-up tunes ever. Thank you, KT. She drinks Sours all day and all night (exaggeration, duh), and if she had to name a beer after herself it would be called Secord’s Swill.
A-TEAM COHORTS: Oscar Isaac, Neil Gaiman, Jason Silva
Justin joined the Beards team in the summer of 2015, right in the middle of the seasonal madness. Considering how mad (NOT angry “mad,” but crazy cool & nerdy “mad”) he is himself, he has fit in quite well with the rest of us weirdos. He’s a big idea man, always pushing creativity and innovation in the brewery. Outside work, Justin is constantly on a spirit quest for knowledge and answers to life’s mysteries. He’s great at getting lost in the woods on purpose, making bread, talking about Captain Planet, and being VERY accurate about everything (Example: He approves of aliens, but condemns the TV show “Ancient Aliens”). Justin likes to drink Sours specifically, but all beers in general, and also whiskey! If he had to name a beer after himself it would probably be something like this: "I Dunno, I'm A Very Multi-Faceted Person."
A-TEAM COHORTS: Ol' Dirty Bastard, (Dead Zone) Christopher Walken, Andre the Giant
Emily (me) doesn’t much care to write about herself in the third person, so you all are going to have to deal with unprofessional, first-person writing. Anyways, I spent 25 years growing up in Royal Oak with countless road trips to northern Michigan until I finally found an excuse to move up north permanently. My work at Beards combined with my enthusiastic work done with MittenBrew.com and Fermenta keeps me extremely happy and extremely busy, and reminds me that beer dreams do come true. I grew up on creature feature films (“Jaws” reigns supreme), Lake Charlevoix water-skiing, and cold weather SCUBA-diving. In my non-existent spare time I devour comic books, hone my magical brunch-making skills and run…a lot (but not this week). Like my preference for IPAs, I enjoy a hop-a-round lifestyle spent exploring new things that involve beer, bookstores and campgrounds. I excel at quiche-making, kicking things far distances, having nightmares about grizzly bears, writing snarky staff profiles, and wearing hats.
A-TEAM cohorts: Eliza Thornberry, Nicki Minaj, Ripley
Traverse City-raised, Emma Berger is our mystical unicorn of freelance art. For the longest time, no one had met her, seen her face, or was even sure she truly existed. She spent her younger years with the alias Ringo after Ringo Starr, probably to throw people off her trace. But lucky us, her two weaknesses are beards and beer, so eventually WE FOUND HER. Emma Berger does, indeed exist. And ever since we found each other, she’s been delivering wicked cool and quirky art that has taken our brand to the next level. Right now, you can find her masterpieces on our Beards cans. But before Beards, creative projects had always been her forte, and making money with said projects has brought her much satisfaction since everything else is “pulling teeth.” She also says she’s not good at anything else and is super boring, but we don’t believe her. She drinks Beards beer after all, and that is NOT boring. In her non-boring free time, Emma prefers to watch The Real Housewives of the OC and Bob’s Burgers, and also drink Belgian style brews. Creatively-speaking, she is inspired by music and the bad dates she's been on. If Emma had a beer made and named after her it would be a bourbon barrel-aged pomegranate beer named Hot’n’Bothered.
She wanted to be Van Gogh, and although she has the crazy part down, Sam failed to commit to the solo ear life. We don’t blame her, especially because two ears are better than one. Going into her senior year at MSU in graphic design, art, and humanities, Sam has been killing it with projects that highlight local craft. First profiling the Detroit beer, art, and architecture scene, she reached out to Beards to get a handle on the Northern Michigan lifestyle next. Sam has spent the summer tagging along on all of our Beardly adventures of mischief and mayhem and has added a lovely new creative mind to the mix. When she’s not working on the Beards brand and finishing school, Sam shamelessly watches anything on the ABC Family channel, likes to camp and hike, work on her photography skillz and paint on very large canvasses. With forceful enthusiasm from fellow Beards worker Emily (me--awkward), she now VERY MUCH ENJOYS Beards road trips spent listening to early 2000s pop punk albums and broadway soundtracks. Sam likes to pair her time hammocking with Red & Amber Ales, and if she ever had a beer named after her, according to her sister, it would be called Bitch Fit.