Hawaiian Beer

Interview: Boston Beer Market Manager Johnny Vaccaro

Boston Beer Market Manager Johnny Vaccaro

Where are you originally from?
Originally from Westcherster, NY.

How did you get from New York to Hawaii?
I was tired of the cold weather and wanted to move to the west coast. I was hired by Boston Beer to cover the Northern Los Angeles district for a year and a half, and then was promoted to manage Hawaii.

Were you a big craft beer drinker before working for Sam Adams?
Not at all, I didn’t know much about craft beer until I started with Boston Beer. Their training provided me with everything I know today. Now I not only enjoy drinking craft beer, but appreciate all the styles of beer and the work that goes into them. I also homebrew a couple times a year, my beers are now drinkable!

What do you do for Sam Adams in Hawaii?
I am a Market Manager. I manage the Boston Beer Company brands and work with our distributor and accounts in the state to grow current business and also search for new business opportunities.

Sam Adams makes a wide range of great beers. What are some of your favorites?
What are ones people should seek out and try. Last year we brewed over 80 beers. That’s a lot to choose from! I recommend that people give all beers they haven’t tried a shot. Our taste pallets constantly change and so do our preferences so you might pick up something you haven’t had in a couple years and realize you actually love it. Some newer styles include our Double Agent IPL (India Pale Lager) this beer is unique because it combines the hoppiness of an IPA with the smoothness of a lager. It’s hard to pick one favorite from our portfolio but I always enjoyed Boston Lager and Imperial White as my two favorites.

Sam Adams makes a great seasonal Marzen called OctoberFest. Are there any events planned for Hawaii around this beer?
Absolutely! One exciting part of OctoberFest is our annual Stein Hoisting Competition I put on at bars/restaurants that carry OctoberFest. The events are a test of strength and mind! Competitors line up to see who can hold a filled 34oz stein out for the longest amount of time without bending their elbow and without spilling the beer. The winner gets cool prizes and a shot to compete at the final round. This year there are 15 competitions on Oahu with the Stein Hoisting Finals happening at Ferguson’s downtown on October 4th 2013. There is also an OctoberFest event on the Windward side on October 5th at Kailua Town Pub. Full calendar is here:

STEIN HOISTING SCHEDULE 2013

Saturday, September 7th 2013

Tropics Taphouse

9pm

Wednesday, September 11th 2013

JJ Dolan’s

5:15pm

Wednesday, September 25th 2013

Hale Koa

7pm

Thursday September 26th

Sam Adams Grill Kaneohe Klipper

5pm

Friday, September 27th 2013

Hawaii Prince

8pm

Saturday, September 28th 2013

Hideaway Club

7pm

Wednesday October 2nd, 2013

Bar 35

6pm

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

UH Bal-Le Sandwich Shop

5pm

Friday, October 4th, 2013

Ferguson’s

7pm

Saturday, October 5th, 2013

Kailua Town Pub

8pm

You recently became a Certified Cicerone. How difficult was that exam and how long did you study for it?
I haven’t studied for anything as intense as the Cicerone exam, not even the SAT’s. It took me a solid month and a half to study for the exam. A lot of reading, memorizing, and sampling! Sampling was definitely my favorite part.

What is the most satisfying part about your job?
Hawaii is an amazing place for craft beer. It’s still very much developing and growing strong. The most satisfying part of my job is educating people who don’t know about craft beer or who never tried it. I enjoy coordinating beer dinners and similar food/beer sampling events because it allows people to see how beer and food interact with each other. It used to be all about wine and food pairings but craft beer provides a whole different dimension to food pairing, it’s very interesting to me.

What style of beer are you most into drinking right now?
I like trying different beers. Right now I’ve been drinking a lot of IPAs and a lot of Belgians. When I can find a hybrid style like a Belgian IPA, it’s a real bonus.

Favorite thing about living in Hawaii?
I get to go to the beach while my friends and family in NY are shoveling snow in the winter. Also, I have a slight addiction to ahi poke. Hawaii is an incredible place, I am very thankful that I live here.

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