Beer and craft brewing oral history interviews

About this collection

This collection contains a series of interviews conducted in 2015 and 2016 on the business of craft brewing in the Mid-Atlantic region of the U.S. The collection includes interviews with brewers and brewery owners from Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia. Additionally, interviews were conducted that cover packaging (canning), distribution, retail sales, and the politics around regulating the alcohol business.

    The project was developed by Gregory Hargreaves, Hagley's former Oral Historian. Mr Hargreaves also conducted the interviews for the project.
    Image: A page from a souvenir album for the F.A. Poth Brewing Company in Philadelphia, 1890. Learn more in our digital exhibit Beer & Brewing History at Hagley Museum & Library

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Interview with Forrest "Al" Stewart, 2016 January 12
This interview took place in the lobby seating area of Stewart's Brewing Company in Bear, Delaware. Stewart offers perspective on over twenty years of craft brewing in Delaware, and the challenges of running a brewpub.
Interview with Barry Holsten, 2016 January 29
This interview began in the employee break room, and shortly moved to the conference room of Flying Fish Brewing Company in Somerdale, New Jersey. Holsten offers perspective on the brewer's profession from a variety of positions within the industry.
Interview with Ben Trumbo, 2016 January 9
This interview took place in the taproom of Pale Fire Brewing Company in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Trumbo offers perspective on the work and professional life of brewers, and how the beer industry looks from the brewer's point of view.
Interview with Robert "Bob" Trostel, 2016 January 14
This interview took place in the conference room of BreakThru Beverage Group, lately United Distributors of Delaware, in New Castle, Delaware.
Tour of Pale Fire Brewery with Ben Trumbo, 2016 February 11
This interview, conducted by Gregory Hargreaves, took place in the brewery of Pale Fire Brewing Company in Harrisonburg, Virginia, during a specially-arranged tour of the facility located at 217 South Liberty Street #105 Harrisonburg, Virginia 22801. Lead Brewer Ben Trumbo walks through the brewing process, discussing the equipment, ingredients, and processes involved in running a successful craft brewery.
Interview with Eric Williams, 2015 December 29
This interview took place in the administrative office of Mispillion River Brewing Company in Milford, Delaware. Williams discusses his background and early career, his involvement in home brewing that inspired him to found Mispillion River Brewing Company, and the subsequent challanges and rewards of operating a medium-scale craft brewery. Williams offers perspective on the start up and early maturation phases of craft brewing business development, and the process of positioning a craft brewery in the marketplace.
Interview with Gene Muller, 2016 January 29
This interview took place in the conference room of Flying Fish Brewing Company in Somerdale, New Jersey. Muller discusses his experience in twenty years of craft brewing in New Jersey.
Interview with Hugh Sisson, 2016 February 3
This interview took place in the conference room of Heavy Seas Beer in Halethorpe, Maryland. Sisson offers perspective on the emergence and evolution of the craft brewing industry in the Mid-Atlantic, with particular emphasis placed on the challenges of the industry over time.
Interview with Jamie Long, 2016 January 9
This interview took place in the taproom of Pale Fire Brewing Company in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Long offers perspective on the process of designing and building a brewery.
Interview with John "Jack" Cordrey, 2016 February 1
This interview took place in the Office of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Commissioner (O.A.B.C.C.) of the State of Delaware, in Wilmington, Delaware. Cordrey offers perspective on the legal and regulatory aspects of the craft brewing industry, and of alcohol regulation more generally.
Interview with Kevin Atticks, 2016 March 10
This interview, conducted by Gregory Hargreaves, took place in the office of Kevin Atticks at Grow + Fortify, LLC, located at 6247 Falls Road Baltimore, Maryland 21209, on the morning of March 10th, 2016. In the interview, Atticks briefly discusses his personal and professional background, education and early career, before moving on to an in-depth discussion of his career in organizing and advocating for the local, craft alcohol industries in Maryland. Atticks began his career writing a book on Maryland wineries, which lead to deepening engagement with that industry. Atticks enjoyed considerable success leading the Maryland Wineries Association, helping to organize the industry, and winning advantageous changes to the law. Observing opportunities to replicate this success, Atticks founded Grow + Fortify, LLC to serve the trade associations of Maryland craft brewers and distillers in addition to wineries. Atticks also discusses the wide array of factors influencing the development of the craft alcohol industries, including market conditions, consumer culture, the environment, and quality control.
Interview with Kevin Finn, 2016 February 2
This interview took place in the banquet room of the Iron Hill Brewery and Restaurant location in Wilmington, Delaware. Finn offers perspective on the intersection of craft brewing and running a restaurant, drawing on his twenty years' experience in the industry.
Interview with Lauren Bigelow, 2016 January 6
This interview took place in the administrative office of Mispillion River Brewing Company in Milford, Delaware. Bigelow discusses her background and early career and contrasts it with her experience working in the craft brewing industry. Bigelow offers perspective on breweries as workplaces, the process of selling beer, and the challenges of communicating a brewery's message in a crowded market.
Interview with Lori Clough, 2016 February 4
This interview took place in the taproom of 3rd Wave Brewing Company in Delmar, Delaware. Clough offers perspective on the processes of opening and running a craft brewery in an increasingly crowded marketplace.
Interview with Mark Edelson, 2016 February 2
This interview took place in the banquet room of the Iron Hill Brewery and Restaurant location in Wilmington, Delaware. Edelson offers perspective on the business and technology of craft brewing, with particular emphasis on the brewing process itself.
Interview with Matthew Farber, PhD, 2016 February 5
This interview took place in the office of Dr. Farber on the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania campus of the University of the Sciences. Farber offers perspective on the science of brewing, and how it relates to the business and technology of the craft brewing industry. An expert on yeast, Farber's interview illustrates the craft brewing industry from the point of view of the laboratory.
Interview with Matthew Sebastionelli, 2016 March 11
This interview, conducted by Gregory Hargreaves, took place in the office of Matthew Sebastionelli at River City Cannery, located at 6660 Santa Barbara Road Elkridge, Maryland 21075. Sebastionelli discusses his background in a military family, and early career in firefighting. An injury on the job forced Sebastionelli to reconsider his career options, a process that led him into the craft brewing industry. Lacking sufficient capital and expertise to open a brewery, Sebastionelli decided to try an innovative business model providing mobile canning services for craft breweries. Sebastionelli discusses the challenges of getting his business off the ground, which involved skills development, industry networking, and extensive assistance from his wife and business partner Ashley Sebastionelli. Sebastionelli has enjoyed considerable success with his business, such that he has expanded its offerings to include packaging brokerage services and co-manufacturing, co-packaging services for alcoholic and non-alcoholic craft beverage industries.
Interview with Robert Murray, 2016 March 9
This interview took place surrounded by cases of beer stacked to the ceiling in a storage room at State Line Liquors in Elkton, Maryland. Murray offers perspective on the craft brewing industry from the point of view of the alcohol retailer, detailing the evolution of the beer retail space over several decades. The environment yeilded excellent recording conditions, with the exception of music and occasional announcements coming over the public address system.
Interview with Ryan Maloney, 2015 December 29
This interview took place in the administrative office of Mispillion River Brewing Company in Milford, Delaware. Maloney briefly discusses his background and early career before a more in-depth discussion of his education as a brewer and his experiences working in the brewery at Mispillion. The process of learning to brew is discussed, as are the technical aspects of the brewing process. Maloney offers perspective on the complexities of brewing as a science and a manufacturing process, and the business and marketing factors that brewers must consider in their work.
Interview with Sam Calagione, 2016 January 21
This interview took place in the conference room of Dogfish Head Craft Brewing in Milton, Delaware. Calagione offers perspective on the importance of craft brewing as a cultural and business movement. The persistent hum in the background of the recording came from machinery in an adjacent utility room, with the apologies of the interview subject. 
Interview with Taylor Smack, 2016 January 8
This interview took place on an enclosed porch adjacent to the dining balcony at Blue Mountain Brewery in Afton, Virginia. Smack offers perspective on the complicated ways in which regulation shapes business; and how major business decisions at Blue Mountain Brewery were informed by regulation.
Interview with Tim Brady, 2016 January 10
This interview took place in the taproom of Pale Fire Brewing Company in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Brady offers perspective on multiple positions within the craft brewing industry including his role in brewpub operations, product distribution, and beer production.