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)
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
Aaron, or A-A-Ron as many like to call him, wanted to be a pirate in his less practical days. He still has pirate-y ambitions, but he has since tapered down his dreams to include working in the craft industry. Originally hailing from Reed City, A-A-Ron likes to read, read some more, and sometimes do other things. He enjoys the outdoors and everything that comes with it—camping, hiking, boating and the like—but also enjoys indoors. He also loves to dance, but he did not specify whether he preferred outdoor or indoor dancing more. He secretly slays at paintball and skanking at music festivals in case you wanted to know. I’m not sure what Eiffel 65 is so I looked it up because Aaron said he liked it. Turns out, it’s this super-neat Italian electropop Eurodance group! Cool. A-A-Ron prefers Porters and Belgian-style beers. If he named a beer after himself, it would be called “The Skanking Goat” and it would be a “yummy Imperial Stout.”
A-TEAM COHORTS: Ted Mosby, Barney Stinson, Marshall Eriksen
Jenni is THE smiliest member of the team. Even when she has to do something unseemly or difficult, she claps and pep-talks herself into it, sometimes with full-on dance moves. Originally from further downstate in Parma, MI, she made her gradual sojourn north after attending massage therapy school. Besides giving great massages, and NOT rolling her eyes about giving them to whiney patrons because she honestly likes helping people, Jenni will talk to you about anything—with actual, sincere enthusiasm, too—and keep up with topic changes as well as a White House public relations professional. Watch out though, Jenni practically vibrates with terrifying excitement if the words “Pinterest” and “wedding” are brought up. And if you think I’m joking, well, then the joke is on YOU. Besides giving massages, she excels at gift-wrapping, sweeping pubs, driving her minivan like a BOSS, and (unfortunately or fortunately) karaoke-ing Queen’s “We Will Rock You.” Newer to the drinking scene, Beards has been a great outlet for her craft education. And because the beer is so brilliant at Beards, she pretty much likes a little bit of everything.
A-TEAM cohorts: Daryl Dixon, Thor, Katniss Everdeen
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 a college advisor for Boyne City and East Jordan schools…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
Nichole took very quickly to the Beards team, probably because she is eating something ALL THE TIME, and we identify with that. Any food left at the pub is fair game. The second time I met her she had meatballs. I respect that. Also, she had welding on her resume—SO COOL AND USEFUL, right? Anyways, Nichole originally hails from our great city of Petoskey herself, but just got back from her many travels and adventures “because there’s no place [she’s] found that compares.” Growing up she had ambitions to become a missionary, and I think maybe she’ll do just that for Beards one day, spreading the good word of our beer everywhere and helping others to improve their beer-drinking experience. Until then though, she does a little bit of everything. She slings beer at the pub, works on beer production in both our Petoskey & Charlevoix facilities, and lends a hand to the Marketing Team when we’re too lazy to write blogs and brainstorm new, creative ideas. In her free time, Nichole likes to keep active and moving, enjoying all outdoorsy activities and the like, especially alongside her boyfriend, Sam. She says she’s good at everything and I totally believe her, but I asked her to be more specific so that answer sucks. Thanks, Nichole. Combined with her welding experience and that time she said she’s renovating a bathroom, methinks she excels at fixing and building, which is IMPRESSIVE. Her preferred beer styles are Belgian Quads and “Barrel Aged anything.” If Nichole had a beer recipe named after her, it would be a Barrel Aged IPA called Tiny Titan.
A-TEAM COHORTS: Winston Churchill, Maximus, Amy Carmichael
We like to think we shamelessly stole Michael Bingaman from his previous employer and made him work for us (even though he applied). A Petoskey native, before he worked for us he could be found at our bar reading a very literary book, writing in a very writerly notebook, and/or teasing all of the pubtenders. He still does all of these things, but also very successfully persuades people to drink our beer. Other things he does well: forgetting your name in place of random Beatles trivia. Also, sending friends weird, sometimes very lewd, messages—just to keep all of us on our toes. Often Michael contemplates cats while drinking adult beverages out of stemmed glasses. He is known to frolic about, spouting fun facts about scabs, dandruff, cavities, and other bodily functions. If he had a beer named for him, Michael would make a Red Ale with rye and call it “Red Rye Shlomo.”
A-TEAM COHORTS: Henry Miller, Russell Brand, Marvin the Paranoid Android
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.