Welcome to our Team – Dan Keller
In all honesty, I never intended or saw myself working in any alcohol-related industry. I wanted to be a music producer.
Turns out you have to be halfway decent at music to do so, making me exceptionally unqualified. Fate had a different strategy for me, one that started off as a hobby and quickly grew into a passion.
It all began with Bell’s Two Hearted IPA after a particularly long restaurant shift back in Michigan. Dinner service was particularly brutal that evening, and as a reward for our suffering, the bartender gave us all a shift beer. The first sip was like being roundhouse-kicked in the mouth by a particularly bitter citrus-loving Jolly Green Giant. Bitter, piney, intensely citrusy, caramel, and toasty biscuit. I was hooked.
Fast forward to my first days in Maine. I was settling into my new job as a sandwich maker (which I hated) and adjusting to the life of living with my girlfriend (now wife). I would drop her off to work at Whole Foods here in Portland, and then immediately stroll over to the beer wall in search of something close to my beloved Two Hearted. After a stint of regular appearances at the beer wall, one of the employees stocking the beer started giving me recommendations of different beers that I may enjoy.
This was the second time in my life I felt like I had a personal assistant- the other being in kindergarten when my mother made my lunches and would spend the morning reminding me of everything I was going to do at school that day. She is a rockstar and I love her.
As fate would have it, I would soon be replicating those experiences I had at the beer wall regularly- only this time as the expert. The opportunity came to join the beer and wine team and I HOPPED on it. I quickly established myself as an in-house expert on our craft beer portfolio, not a bad gig to have at 22. My drive to learn and share my knowledge is something that has propelled me through different aspects of this industry. Soon I would help cultivate the Maine craft beer showcase, allowing the many new and budding breweries in the area to have a retail outlet other than their own facility. This is when I stopped viewing myself as a Whole Foods employee and as a craft beer ambassador instead.
Shortly after, I would embark on the next leg of my craft beer journey with joining the team at Rising Tide Brewing. Getting that job was better than winning the lottery- I was going to be an integral part of the production of one of my favorite producers in the area. Weekdays were spent in production cleaning and packaging (with the occasional hazing) and weekends in the tasting room.
I’m proud to say that taking that job not only aligned me with an employer and company I believe in, but also allowed me to continue with my REAL job of being an ambassador for craft beer.
College happened, and it turns out I really enjoyed it. I am a graduate of the University of Southern Maine’s business program with a particular focus in entrepreneurship and a minor in economics. All of these things I found were immediately applicable to what I was doing in craft beer. I guess that’s what they meant by the application of what you learn in school… this whole time I’ve been looking for a form I needed to fill out.
Now it is time to shine, and The Maine Brew Bus has given me the opportunity to do so. I am excited for what lies ahead, some of which I don’t even know about yet but still welcome. I am fortunate enough to be surrounded by many who share the same vision and passion as myself and look forward to creating with all of these fine folks. While we all have different titles and roles, we are all still ambassadors to the incredible craft alcohol producers here in Maine.
And if that isn’t awesome, then I don’t know what is.
-Dan Keller is the Operations Coordinator for The Maine Brew Bus.