If there’s such thing as an over-qualified head brewer, it’s Eric Harper. (Don’t tell him. We want to keep him.) Eric has an unbelievable resume, including many years honing his craft at other breweries as well as a prestigious diploma from London’s Institute of Brewing and Distilling (yes, that’s a thing). In spite of all that, when asked why he’s so awesome at his job, his answer is: “I love beer.” That passion, skill, and experience shows up in every sip. The team says they hit the trifecta with Eric, whom they describe as a chef, food scientist, and cool guy all rolled into one.
That smiling face you see when you walk into the Fernweh taproom? It’s Kelsey Bomgaars. (Okay, it could be just about anyone. There are a lot of smiling faces at Fernweh, because we brew really good beer that makes people happy.) But Kelsey’s a huge reason they’re all so happy. She loves coming to work every day, and it shows: Kelsey makes everyone who crosses her path feel like royalty—staff and customers alike.
Kelsey’s responsible for managing staff and making sure everything runs smoothly in the taproom, and she also had her hand in designing the taproom. She can do just about everything, aside from picking her favorite Utepils beer. She says that’s like picking a favorite child.
Don’t let Dan’s self-deprecating humor fool you—he knows he has a good thing going here. “I was a total nerd in high school,” he says. “Now I get to live this big adventure.” His title might be president, but his real job is professional people person. Dan’s specialty: “Find really great people to do the work I don’t know how to do, and support them in their roles.” It’s working. If you ask his team, Dan’s gift for vision and leadership makes him the Pied Piper of beer. People just want to be part of what he’s doing. (It doesn’t hurt that what he’s doing is creating delicious beer.)
Before starting Utepils, Dan honed his brewing chops as co-owner and president of Vine Park Brewing. He also served on the board of the Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild, including a stint as president. So he’s still a nerd, but now he’s a super social beer nerd with a really cool job.
How often do you see a CFO hang sheetrock? It’s all in a day’s work for Jim Moore. Jim has serious financial credentials, including 20+ years in corporate banking and multiple gigs as a financial assassin for high-growth companies. Still, he’s best suited to the all-hands-on-deck philosophy at Utepils. In fact, it’s his favorite thing about his job. “Since joining Utepils, I’ve used every skill set that I’ve accumulated in my entire life,” he beams. Jim isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty, but he keeps the books clean as a whistle.
With Jim on the job, no one has to worry about the numbers. And that means we can all spend more time with the beer.
Director of Operations is the ultimate catch-all title, which means Jeff wears more hats than a Dr. Seuss character. He handles everything from general maintenance to running special events and working with the distributor. Fortunately, no one is better at juggling a heavy, complex workload. “There’s not a lot of gray area in my life,” Jeff says. “I make quick decisions and I’m willing to take on anything and see it through to completion.”
He’s not kidding. In his former life as an event manager, Jeff once had a tornado decimate an event just prior to airing on national television, and he rebuilt everything before anyone could blink an eye. And then he cracked a beer.
Brad’s role is National Sales Manager, but you can just call him “The Beer Guy.” It’s a title earned over two decades in the biz. He has the magic touch when it comes to helping beer brands get their products to market, but that’s only part of what makes him The Beer Guy. Brad loves beer, and he loves the way beer brings people together. His passion is contagious, and his gift for telling a story is legendary. (We’re thinking of getting him his own YouTube channel.) Brad likes to think of himself as: “The friendliest guy who will ever share a beer with you.” It’s not boasting. We dare you to try it and disagree.
Megan’s official title: VIPer Program Director. But that’s a little stodgy, so feel free to substitute Queen, Tsar, Perk Purveyor, and/or Benevolent Dictator. They all boil down to the same cool gig: Megan manages our VIP program. (Psst—VIPer stands for Very Important Patron, Enthusiast, and Recruiter.) VIPers get tons of awesome benefits, not the least of which is a lot of free beer. Needless to say, Megan’s a popular gal.
With a background in software and tons of experience in corporate America, Megan has analytical and organizational chops to spare—but she’s also super-friendly, which is why she also regularly bartends at the taproom. Come say hi, order a beer from Megan, and ask her about becoming a VIPer.
Shortly before the soft opening, John Oxley walked into the Fernweh taproom—and never looked back. (Okay, we usually let him leave at night.) His conversation with one of the owners morphed into an impromptu interview. And even though there wasn’t a formal job available, John got along so well with everyone that we found a spot for him. John started out by working security and is now the Assistant Taproom Manager, which sees him doing everything from serving customers to throwing kegs around.
John describes his job as a stroke of good luck. “The product is spectacular, the team is delightful, and our customer base is awesome,” he says. “I’ve worked in a lot of bars, and this is the nicest crowd I’ve ever been around.”
As a bartender and manager, Vanessa is often the only person standing (literally and figuratively) between you and the beer. And if delicious beer weren’t sufficient motivation to be nice to her, she has practiced martial arts for 30 years. Plus her husband is in charge of our security. So, seriously. Be nice. Fortunately, that’s not hard to do since Vanessa is a total delight. She’s full of fascinating stories of her outdoor adventures and world travels and years (25 of them, to be precise) spent tending bar.
Vanessa and her husband suffer from a serious case of Wanderlust, but they’ve found a home at Utepils. It’s fitting, since Fernweh means: “The feeling or sense that you have finally arrived home walking into a place you’ve never been before and could not have described before arrival.” She’s home. And she loves it. And we love her.
Assistant taproom manager Chris comes to Utepils with nearly two decades of experience in the hospitality industry, and he can handle anything we throw at him. He loves shooting the breeze with customers—it’s one of the best things about his job. But if you’re inclined to complain to him about the weather ‘round these parts, you might be barking up the wrong tree. Chris recently relocated to the Twin Cities after spending 14 years in Duluth. (People from Duluth see our weather forecasts and giggle patronizingly. It gets rough up there.)
So even though the word Utepils roughly translates to “the first beer enjoyed with friends in the sunshine after a long, hard winter,” Chris doesn’t need to wait for a warm-up to enjoy a cold one. (And neither do you. It’s always the right temperature in the Fernweh taproom.)