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, specializing in, well, everything. He cooks the pizzas, he makes up beer recipes, he counts things all the time, and files things all the time (we’re all glad we don’t have to do that part). In his non-existent free time he rage naps, fights fires for the City of Petoskey, throws things at Kathleen in the office (mostly non-harmful), and travels internationally. His better half, his non-guard dog Ava, can be seen around town helping him run errands while accosting friendly townsfolk. Ben’s superpowers include looming, creating super-intense and terrifying spreadsheet formulas, whisper-screaming in your ear while pouring beer, and making spectacular blanket forts with his wife, 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 local 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. Peter enjoys buying cat-themed things, learning Japanese (especially the eating part), leading big idea meetings, and talking about dinosaurs. In doing all of these neat things, he likes to involve his cats (Earl Grey, Tarmac, Ginseng) and his wife, Kari, as much as possible. Peter balances out his fuzzy side by listening to metal. He’s great at verbal enthusiasm, not avoiding tangents, 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 great expanse of Michigan. 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! 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 sidekicks are Wally and Gus, a grizzly brown carebear of a dog and a goofy, younger-than-the-adoptions-papers-said puppy, who inspire Kathleen to work hard and laugh about the madness of life. In her free time (come every November sometimes), 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 “Chimko Simcoe” and it would be a Strawberry Kiwi IPA.
A-TEAM COHORTS: Michael Chimko, Paul Chimko, Wally
Groovy Struwve (stroovee) traveled far and wide and then landed here with us in Petoskey, all the way from the exotic lands of Anoka, Minnesota. As he has always wanted to be an explorer of new places in the world, time, and space (woah there buddy, careful with the time-space continuum) we feel pretty lucky to have him as our Music & Events Manager. He could have ended up ANYWHERE after all. This tuba-playing, basketball trickshot-taking fellow always throws 200% enthusiasm into his projects and is down for pretty much any of our suggestions when it comes to fun events and ideas. And hey, did you know that Stephe has THE BEST Halloween sweater vest in existence? It’s spooktacular. Outside his Beards work, he loves to hang out with his lady, Becky, and their australian shepherd Maple (how CUTE is that name, though?!), whether that be rambling around the local hiking trails or jamming on the odd instruments he has at home. And if you just pictured Maple the aussie shepherd playing drums and wearing shades, then you’re living right. Anyways, Stephe likes drinking IPAs and Belgian style beers the most; and if he had a beer named after him, it would be a Double IPA called “Stroove’s Groove.”
A-TEAM COHORTS: Becky, Maple, Kevin Garnett
Justin is The Dogman, the leader of brewery operations and recreational forest adventures. He’s a big idea man, always pushing creativity and innovation in the brewery and out. He can be very serious, but will also be the one to reminisce about the old days when he [redacted for mention of possible misdemeanor activity]. 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, hunting, gathering, foraging, making bread, talking about Captain Planet, and being VERY accurate about everything (Example: He approves of aliens, but condemns the TV show “Ancient Aliens”). We are all very good at keeping his blood pressure up, taking advantage of his expertise & knowledge and challenging it with sarcastic barbs and bored faces. 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
A-TEAM COHORTS: Quint, Charlie (Always Sunny), Neil Degrasse-Tyson
I don’t much care to write about myself in the third person, so if first person writing bothers you, get a new hobby. 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 horror, YA, and trashy romance novels, 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 hiking. I excel at quiche-making, kicking things far distances, having nightmares about grizzly bears, writing snarky staff profiles, and wearing hats. If I had a beer named after me (hark! I already do, suckers!) it would be called “Amity” and it would be a Red IPA.
A-TEAM COHORTS: Eliza Thornberry, Captain Marvel, Stacker Pentecost
Steve is a family man, and when I say that, I mean he is the best actual dad ever, but he looks at all of his co-workers as family as well. And he’s a great dad to us too, always the first to offer his years of experience or lend a hand or store things for us or beat people up for us. Just kidding on the last one--but no joking, he could most probably choke you out. It’s one of Steve’s many secret ninja skills. As our artist in residence, he has LOTS of other, non-violent skills too! Graphic design, sculpture, drawing, painting, carpentry--if it’s creative and maybe requires the use of power tools, Steve can do it. Besides all that, he’s also a great cook, a rockin’ drummer, and super-enthusiastic voiceover artist (seriously, check out any of our Beards videos)? Handy, that. All of his free time is spent with his two brilliant kids and wife--he loves to support them in anything they do. And while Steve is still learning the beer game, he loves our beer best (duh) and prefers drinking Cream Ales, Amber Ales, and Blonde Ale. He’s tried a few IPAs, but unless it’s Owlmadillo, they aren’t his favorite. If Steve had a beer named after him, it would be a Cream Ale called “Bartel Cartel.”
A-TEAM COHORTS: Jared Carson, Dan Mead, Miguel Ortiz (all good friends and Marines)