Beer Steward Presenter Bios
Karl Ockert was already an avid home brewer and winemaker
when, in 1979, between high school and college, he traveled to
Europe and experienced the beer styles he had only read about.
Karl turned his passion into a career and, in 1983, he received his
B.S. degree in fermentation science from the University of
California-Davis. He worked as an assistant winemaker until launching
the BridgePort Brewery in 1984. He was a brewmaster for more than 25 years. Karl has traveled extensively in Europe and the United Kingdom. His interests in beer styles span the spectrum, but he is especially fond of cask-conditioned ales and porter. Karl edited a popular series of brewing books for MBAA, MBAA Practical Handbook for the Specialty Brewer. He is currently the technical director of MBAA and the program director for the MBAA Beer Steward Certificate Program.
Steve Presley retired from Anheuser-Busch (A-B) in 2009 as senior assistant brewmaster at the Fort Collins, CO, brewery. During his 30 years with A-B, he held various management positions at several of their 12 breweries. He also worked in the company’s international brewing division, starting licensed brewing operations in England, France, Israel, Canada, Japan, and Korea. Prior to joining A-B, he worked for Pabst Brewing Company for 3 years. Steve received his B.S. degree in fermentation science from the University of California-Davis. He is a frequent guest lecturer for brewing science and food science at Colorado State University and other technical organizations. He is past president of both MBAA Districts Rocky Mountain and Southern California. Steve is one of the assistant editors and a coauthor of the Beer Steward Handbook.
Steve Holle instigated the Beer Steward Certificate Program for MBAA and is the chief editor of the Beer Steward Handbook. He grew up in Missouri, where he had his first taste of beer with his father. Warm summer evenings listening to the Cardinals with his father remain his most pleasant memory of enjoying beer. As a college German major, Steve spent a semester in Germany, which opened his eyes to the international world of beer. He later attended a course in Bavarian brewing technology at Doemens Institute, Munich. In 2003, Steve finished his diploma in brewing through the Institute of Brewing and Distilling–London. That same year, MBAA published his brewing book, A Handbook of Basic Brewing Calculations. His articles on brewing and beer culture have also appeared in Brewing Techniques, All About Beer, The New Brewer, Brewer’s Digest, Draft, Zymurgy, and Brew Your Own. He cohosted the Beer Show on Dallas radio and was a beer critic for The Dallas Morning News. His knowledge of German has allowed Steve to tour extensively through Bavarian breweries. Many of his magazine articles explain German brewing techniques and beer-drinking culture. His article on the Reinheitsgebot was voted the best feature article in 1999 by the North American Guild of Beer Writers. He has lectured at the American Homebrewers Association Conference on German brewing techniques. Steve is an instructor at the MBAA Brewing and Malting Science Course, a Great American Beer Festival judge, and a certified specialist of wine. He is a director of the Urban Chestnut Brewing Company in St. Louis, MO.
Ashton Lewis began dabbling with home brewing during his senior year of high school and decided to pursue a career in brewing. On his 21st birthday, in 1990, he added the 400th beer bottle to his beloved empty bottle collection, a bottle of Samuel Adams Double Bock. In 1991, he graduated from Virginia Tech with a degree in food science. Later that year, he entered the graduate program in food science at the University of California-Davis. Ashton studied and worked in Dr. Michael Lewis’ brewing laboratory from 1991 to 1994. After graduating from Davis, he taught brewing science classes with Dr. Lewis through the University of California Extension group and the American Brewer’s Guild. In 1997, Ashton moved to Missouri to work for Mueller, a stainless steel process equipment company, in a dual role as the original master brewer of the Springfield Brewing Company and as a member of Mueller’s process equipment engineering and sales group. Today, he continues his role as the master brewer of Springfield Brewing Company and is the lead face of Mueller to the brewing market. For the past 15 years, Ashton has been the technical editor and author of the “Help Me Mr. Wizard” column for Brew Your Own magazine; in some twisted way, this is considered a hobby. When he is not doing something with beer, Ashton enjoys listening to jazz, eating good food, hiking, and scuba diving.
Bill White worked with the Labatt Brewing Company from 1975 until his retirement in 2005. During that period, he worked in all aspects of production, including as plant manager of their Edmonton brewery and as brewmaster of the Toronto brewery. He also helped create the Oland’s Specialty Group. Bill is now very active in promoting the enjoyment of life with beer and contributes articles and interviews to several beer magazines and TV and radio shows. His highest achievement was when he was knighted by the Belgian Brewers Guild in 2005 for service to the Belgian brewing industry, becoming a ”Chevalier du Forquet des Brasseurs”, a ”Knight of the Brewer’s Mash Staff”, in a guild with more than 600 years of brewing traditions. Bill was “Tap Magazine’s Man of the Year 2006” for lifetime service to the brewing industry. He received his honors degree in chemistry from the University of Saskatchewan in 1971.
father was a “right-off-the-boat” German immigrant, which makes Rick a first-generation German-American and quite possibly explains his early and enduring affinity for great lagers. Rick studied history and education, graduating in 1972 from Otterbein College in Westerville, OH. He taught middle school and high school history and social studies in the Columbus Public School System until he had the opportunity to become a brewer for Anheuser-Busch during the first major expansion of the Columbus brewery. He jumped at the chance, juggling both teaching and brewing for awhile. Ultimately, he left teaching to brew beer full time. His personal ambition was always to be a hands-on brewer, and he spent much time teaching and training his colleagues in the brewery about upgrades in brewing process technology. Rick retired as the senior brewer in Columbus with more than 37 years of hands-on experience. In retirement, Rick continues to use his teaching skills to present seminars for the MBAA Beer Steward Certificate Program and local beer dinners and is currently writing a history of brewing in central Ohio.
Keith Hodgins has worked in the brewing industry for 31 years. His passion for brewing started early in life growing up in Milwaukee, long considered the brewing capital of the world, and started his career at the Pabst Brewing Company in 1977 which culminated as Senior Resident Brewmaster of the 5.5 million bbl Milwaukee Brewery. Keith left Pabst to continue his brewing career with the Coors Brewing Company. He joined Anheuser Busch- St. Louis as a Senior Process Engineer and retired as Resident Brewmaster at the Jacksonville brewery in 2008. Keith holds a Bachelors of Science degree in Food Science from the University of Wisconsin. He attended comprehensive brewing schools with the Master Brewers Association, the Siebels Brewing Institute and with Anheuser Busch and has been an active member of the MBAA for 28 years. He has been an active participant in the Great American Brewing Festival, having been awarded two gold, two silver and one bronze medal.