Like many college students, Nick Crandall — then an environmental science major at Western Washington University — had a bit of an affinity for beer, including microbrews. It started innocently enough: Crandall bought the cheap beer only when the paychecks from his part-time job — cleaning kegs at Boundary Bay Brewery — wouldn’t yield enough pocket cash for a six-pack of the good stuff. However, he soon began to save enough for the tools and raw materials needed to concoct his own brews.
In the eight years since Crandall graduated, he has gone all in on his hobby-turned-passion and has risen to the ranks of innovation brewer at the Redhook production center in Woodinville.
“Getting out of college, you start to realize that jobs are few and far between, and most of your work is going to be down a slightly different field,” Crandall said. “I probably would have had another two to six years of college before I had the education level (I needed) to get the job that I really wanted. That seemed like a lot of work.”
One might assume that after brewing each day at work, Crandall would tire of the process, yet he never has. In fact, Crandall still home-brews several times a year; it is his only hobby, and he said he enjoys the social aspect of the experience the most.
“We invite people over,” Crandall said. “I had my father in-law and brother in-law over (last weekend), and I was brewing with them. A lot of time it is about showing someone else how it is happening and exposing them to the beer-making process.”
While whipping up a batch of brew from scratch is something Crandall enjoys, he said a walk through the grocery store can be even more enjoyable at times, as the sight of Redhook bottles brings him a certain sense of pride.
“I’ll walk down the beer aisle — a lot of times I’m not even buying anything because my house is generally fully stocked and I have five beers on tap at home, so it isn’t usually that I need to put something in my cart — to check out what other breweries have,” he said. “I usually just make sure what we have there is represented and looks right, make sure the labels look right, push it forward, that kind of thing.”
Scroll down to see what this environmental scientist-turned-brew master does on a typical day.