To round out the Top 5 Most Beerfluential People voted by you, we have an individual that is always doing something pertaining to beer. Whether he is volunteering at a beer festival or hosting a variety of events at the Watering Hole at Whole Foods, he seems to be everywhere. Beer is his passion and drives him day to day.
The Brew Bros: How long have you been in the craft beer community?
James Swann: I have been working here in AZ in the Craft Beer community since 2004. It all started in a small sports bar in Phoenix called Hazelwood’s First Place. Once a month I would do a Craft Beer Festival and tasting with Little Guy Distributing. We would taste at least 10–15 different craft beers each time. (This was before they were called World Class) In addition, we had Four Peaks night every Wednesday. 32 Ounces of any Four Peaks Draft for only $3.50! There were always 4–5 different Four Peaks Brews on Tap. Next Up was SanTan Brewing in 2007. I can’t tell you how much I learned while helping to open and run a brand new local craft brewery. Lots of great memories.
TBB: What types of things do you do in the community?
JS: Education is the biggest part for me. Bringing new people into the fold and giving them an opportunity to enjoy learning more about our passion for the craft. Through my Friday beer classes and my weekly column in AZ Weekly, I try to bring craft beer to people in a fun and entertaining way. The more you learn the more you can appreciate, and people do seem to be having fun
TBB: What do you feel is important for the state of Arizona to accomplish to gain an edge in craft beer?
JS: GROWTH and COOPERATION. In order for Arizona to become a strong suit in the craft beer world we must grow together with one eye on education and the other on team work. Our for fathers in beer culture such as Chuck Noll, Ron Kloth and Andy Ingram have been preaching for years about how craft beer would take hold here in AZ. We are now a new much larger group of educated enthusiasts, consumers and professionals. Living proof that they were spot on.
TBB: Why do you feel like your peers have voted you into the Top 5?
JS: I am hoping it’s down to passion and participation. My passion for craft beer is what drives me to do the things that I do within our community. We have great group of craft beer lovers here in AZ. that is growing every day. I would like to think a small amount of that growth is due to my efforts.
TBB: If you could do anything to help craft beer in Arizona, what would it be?
JS: If I could do anything to help Craft Beer it would again center on growth. I would love to find more effective ways to reach out to the everyday community at large. Let’s show them how important our local breweries are to our state’s economy, and how easy a transition craft beer can be. Let’s find new and exciting ways to grow people’s passion for quality craft and local products. Let’s take this one step at a time and build a strong deep rooted foundation.
TBB: Who in Arizona influenced your craft beer passion?
JS: Early doors my passion for craft beer in Arizona was influenced by people such as Teddy Golden from Four Peaks, Ron Kloth from Papago Brewing and the Old Great Arizona Beer Fest. Back when it was held in Phoenix. Later it was people like Laryd Mahler form Sonoran Brewing and Anthony Canecchia from SanTan Brewing. I remember those days fondly.