We are pleased to introduce our first 'District Cincinnati Profile' on our District Cincinnati web site. Every month, six weeks, or so, we will profile a different member from our District in an interesting and upbeat kind of way. Each profile will feature photographs and answers to a set of basic "getting-to-know-you" questions. Normally, we only get together three or four times a year; so hopefully, this is an opportunity to showcase some of the dedicated, hardworking, and fascinating folks in our group.
In this, our first District Cincinnati Profile, Rick has volunteered to be the "guinea pig" of the launch, merely to demonstrate that it is quite painless! Rick is also willing and able to travel to a home, job site, or any other destination in order to complete an interview and get profile pictures. So, everyone...please feel free to suggest profile candidates!
What is your current work title?
"Retired"...or I should say "semi-retired". I officially retired July 1, 2010 as the Senior Brewer at the Anheuser-Busch Brewery in Columbus, Ohio. But actually I'm busier than ever! It's much more accurate to say that after 38 years of working as a proud, hands-on Brewer, I have moved on to "those next things".
What are those "next things"?
I have launched a side business…Your Beer Ambassador, LLC. I host beer tastings and beer-food pairings for area restaurants, caterers, corporate events, fund raisers, and other special events. I also work in the MBAA Beer Steward Certificate Program as a Beer Steward Instructor. My friends are awed by all this as they claim that all I do is talk about beer anyway. I am also writing my histories. I have written a brief history of our Cincinnati District that will be soon be posted on our District Cincinnati website in PDF format. This is, and always will be a "work-in-progress". As we get more information, as members find documents and photos in their basements and attics, it will be updated. But, at least it is a start. I am also researching the "The Central Ohio Brewing Tradition" (working title). Good histories have been written about Cincinnati and Cleveland, but very little has been written about the brewing tradition in Central Ohio.
Anything else in "semi-retirement"?
My wonderful wife of 38 years (Debbie) and I just returned from a month-long pleasure & research trip in Germany. Deb found her grandmother’s house in Berlin, even talking to and spending time inside having coffee with the current owners. We also found the Steglitz Museum in Gr.Lichterfelde where Deb’s family had a brewery! She befriended the curator at the museum, and was able to get archived pictures and articles about the brewery. I took photos of museum’s bottles from the brewery! My father was from the Karlsruhe area, and I met many of my German cousins for the first time! They were wonderful and gracious hosts serving us dinners, while drinking the local beer and wine. We filled in more of the family tree, and had fun looking at old pictures, most of which I had never seen (they had pictures of me!). Cousin Rolf and his wife Renate took us to see the house where my father was born (built in the mid 1700s). We walked the village cemeteries. We sampled fresh grapes and enjoyed wine from the...family vineyards. “Seemueller” is a very common name in this neck of Bavaria! It was fun to see my last name, virtually everywhere.
I'm also a beer judge in the Beer Judge Certification Program. I'm also building a home brewing system. It's amazing the technology that a home brewer can purchase these days!
Where are you located now?
I have lived in Westerville, Ohio for the past 23 years. Westerville is a strange dichotomy in that it was the very seat of the Temperance Movement, housing the offices and printing operations of the Anti-Saloon League. The ASL almost single handedly ushered in Prohibition. We even have the “Temperance Row” Historical District, designated by the National Register. And yet…I spent 38 years working for the world's largest brewer located a mile up the road!
How did you come into the Brewing Industry?
My father was a right-off-the-boat German, which makes me a 1st generation German-American. Beer was always in my grandparent’s house, always talked about, and always enjoyed, all of which probably explains my long-time affinity for good German Lagers. After college, I was a teacher in the Columbus Public School System. Anheuser-Busch built and opened its Columbus Brewery in 1968, with a major 1973 expansion that more than doubled the size of the brewery. During the “expansion hiring period”, I jumped at the chance to be a Brewer. That was 38 years ago, and I have never regretted it.
When not working, what other hobbies or activities do you enjoy?
I exercise every morning of my life. My attitude is that life is an endurance event and you must train for it! My joke is that I am probably the first P90X Graduate with hearing aids! I love gardening. My wife and I like to kayak, cross country ski, and hike. We are Birders. I love to cook, especially outdoor grilling, and I recently returned to an all charcoal grill. We will also be doing a lot more traveling. With our Germany trip completed, we will return to Italy next year.
What is your proudest accomplishment as a Brewer?
Being able to have a role in the start-up of our new Anheuser-Busch Brew House, which started production in February, 2000, was a source of great joy of which I am very proud. Involvement from the ground up bestows a deep understanding of the brewing system; both its attributes and its challenges. I knew these intimately. I also developed and delivered a wide range of brewing training materials for both new processes and new products, much of which were adopted as the "corporate standard" and/or "best practices material". I was still the teacher, and that was very fulfilling. My involvement with the development of our Helles Bock style beer called "Burnin Helles" also brings fond memories.
If you weren’t a Brewer…what would you be?
I would have been (and was) a teacher. I also would have done a lot of writing, as I am now.
What beers are in your fridge…right now?
I really am a moving target here, always tasting and enjoying a wide variety of beers, both local (and we have some pretty good ones), regional, and international. A direct answer to the direct question...right now, I bought a case of Yuengling which is now available in Ohio. Michelob Lager, which I love...is all 2-row malt and Noble hops.. I still have some Sam Adams Noble Pils which is one of my all-time favorites. I have some Fat Tire from New Belgium Brewery which I can now get in Indiana when I visit my daughter. I also have a half dozen homebrews from friends who give these to me, "wanting my opinion" in return.
What is your favorite Beer-Food Pairing?
My favorite pairings are not very complicated. I love beer paired with good cheeses and sausages. A month in Germany just reinforced that love. Beer’s effervescence and potentially crisp hoppiness handles the rich, mouth-coating qualities of the best artisanal cheeses. I love an aromatic hefeweizen with a Chevre, an assertive, herbal, floral IPA with the complex aroma of a blue cheese, or even an aggressive Stout with an Ohio aged cheddar. Much to my dismay, I have yet to find the perfect, accompanying pretzel to dip in a whole grain mustard…here in the States.
If Hollywood made a movie about your work-life, who would you like to see play the lead role as…you?
Ha Ha! Probably Matt Damon in his Jason Borne character’s slick, sly, maneuvering, multiple passports, and martial arts moves, all merely to survive. That is how I sometimes felt as a Hands-On Brewer with a real passion for brewing…constantly walking a tightrope between recalcitrant union officials and management egos, all within a large commercial brewery
If someone wrote a biography about you, what do you think the book title should be?
The great Irving Stone title: "The Agony and The Ecstasy" best mirrors how I felt as my work life evolved. I had some very good times and some very hard times. Many memorable folks moved into and out of my work life, as well as many not-so-memorable folks. But, don't we all endure that where ever we work and whatever we do? Life really is a "do-it-yourself" project and that includes one's work life. Looking back, even with all of the accumulated Agony and Ecstasy, I would not change a thing.
Anything else that you would like to share?
These are very exciting times to be affiliated with the Brewing Industry! It is a source of great joy to continue to find people in this industry who have "the passion". The proliferation of smaller, craft brewers has given us a whole new generation of brewing zealots who indeed have the passion and work their hearts out. In my role as "Your Beer Ambassador", hosting my beer tastings, I love to talk up their products and celebrate all that they do. And…they certainly put some spark back in our District Cincinnati meetings.