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The Canadian fellow I was thinking about is named John Mitchell. Mr. Mitchell came up in a conversation I had last week with Keith Lemcke while enjoying a few beers at Goose Island-Clybourn. Mr. Lemcke shared with me the (partial) story of Mr. John Mitchell. Mr. Mitchell is a 'captain of industry', according to Mr. Lemcke, who opened the first modern craft brewery in Canada, which was called the Horseshoe Bay Brewing Company, in the spring of 1982. From there, Mr. Mitchell left to co-found Spinnakers (Canada's first in-house brewpub) in 1983.
Mr. Lemcke also told me that the last time he saw Mr. Mitchell, he (Mr. Mitchell) was in his 70s and still hauling kegs and malt sacks around on his own. I heard this and thought a few things: 1) Mr. Mitchell must be strong and in good shape to be able to carry kegs and sacks of grain around in his 70s. 2) How much must Mr. Mitchell love his job, and how lucky is he to have such a job, to be able to keep working during the later years of his life?
I am sure that there are other jobs that are very enjoyable (roller coaster designer/tester, photographer for National Geographic, I think what Josh Noel does is really cool), but the craft beer industry is one of a kind in its own way.
Through all of the discussions I've had with people in the craft beer industry, I've come to learn that folks in the craft beer industry are a supportive, friendly, overly helpful bunch of folks whose common aim is to turn more people onto better, locally made beer and to have a good time doing it. Once you learn and hear that for yourself from people who work in the craft beer industry, it is extremely hard to not become smitten with it. It is even tougher to keep oneself from inquiring about volunteering opportunities more than once a week, but a nice consolation prize is the opportunity to purchase a locally made craft beer.
So, to those of you who have a roll in the making, sharing, availability of, or a different hand in the craft beer industry - thank you for doing what you're doing. It is greatly appreciated!
**It should be noted that folks in the homebrewing community are also quick to offer advice, materials (if available), and help should it be requested (and if the person(s) asked are available to help). So, if you are hesitant to start homebrewing due to fears of harsh judgement of your homebrew by people who have been homebrewing for decades, don't be. More experienced homebrewers want to help you learn to make better beer so that you can do the same for the new homebrewers that start after you do.