My 2015 Birthday Year In Review Mashup Thing

3636 years. 13,140 days. 315,360 hours. 18,921,600 minutes. In all that time spent on Earth, I’ve never really been a huge fan of math. But I took the time to carry the seven and what not because it’s taken all that time to truly find the path I was born to travel.

Maybe a little less, but who’s counting?

My 2015 was a year absolutely, undeniably, unequivocally, defined by change. Defined by determining new directions. Life lessons. I guess a year without change and growth means a year without learning, developing, and evolving. No thanks, that type of repetition is not for me. I love me some change…especially when it opens up brand new windows of opportunity.

A career that I had poured several years and a lot of effort into was unexpectedly taken away from me on a fateful Wednesday morning in January. Honestly, I’m not going to say much more than that. A decision was made. Founded or unfounded, the powers that be made a choice. One that was out of my hands. For better or for worse, they can feel however they wish about that decision and live with it. I choose to accentuate the positives and not let the actions of others define my purpose.

It’s not a justification, but I can honestly say what transpired that morning realigned my focus and pointed me towards the passion I had been chasing on only a part-time basis up to that point.

I’m probably not breaking any real news here when I say that I love beer. Have since I was a younger man. In fact, 2016 marks the 20th anniversary of my first brush with craft beer as my late uncle hooked me up with a Breckenridge Avalanche when I was 16 years old.

And in that memory is my true adoration for beer.

It’s not just the liquid, albeit the liquid is mighty good. It’s the memories, the experiences, the camaraderie, the relationships formed while imbibing this magical fluid that truly exemplifies what it’s all about. When you look back on some of the greatest times in your life, they most likely took place over a few adult beverages…and most likely, you remember the people you were with and the stories that were told much more than the beverage in your hand. That’s powerful.

Breaking Brews was my initial leap into the beer world outside of just being a casual drinker. My little beer blog took on a life of its own and allowed me to connect with some amazing people. This connection morphed into the development of the Pittsburgh Craft Beer Network, a business I’ve developed over the course of this past year and will continue to grow and improve upon in 2016 and beyond. This also led to the birth of a craft beer podcast called Over a Couple of Beers that I co-host with my long-time best friend/brother Jason Collins.

It has been my absolute pleasure to work with so many local and nationwide craft beer destinations and organizations to help them promote their brand, gain traction in the Pittsburgh market, host successful events, and so much more. At the same time, it has been just as big of a pleasure to serve as a craft beer resource for so many enthusiasts across the region and country. I am beyond fired up for what 2016 will bring and look forward to many more things unfolding across the Pittsburgh craft beer and spirits landscape.

CHEAP PLUG: If you haven’t downloaded the free mobile app I put together this year, PCBN Connect, drop everything and do it now!

When one door closes, another one opens and what not, right? A mere three days after losing my job, I happened upon Spoonwood Brewing for their big grand opening. I blogged about it, which led to a connection with co-owner and Head Brewer Steve Ilnicki. That led to us partnering through the Craft Beer Network. That led to me joining the Spoonwood team and serving as their Brand Manager back in September, overseeing sales and distribution and contributing to Spoonwood’s marketing efforts.

One little blog post. One little blog post has led to a tremendous opportunity that I couldn’t be more thankful for. Working with the Spoonwood team has been everything I hoped it would be and I can’t wait to tackle 2016 and demonstrate what this craft brewery is all about. Currently, you can find Spoonwood beers pouring in over 50 craft beer destinations across Pittsburgh. As the new year arrives, we’ve got some more cool things coming down the pike.

Stay tuned…the next couple months are going to be incredibly exciting for Spoonwood. Hashtag hint hint…

I mentioned that one little blog post leading to where I am today. To piggyback on that, one little blog post got ALL of this started for me. If there’s one message I can relay to you in this diatribe of recollecting 2015, it’s this: JUST. EFFING. TRY. It doesn’t matter how trivial you may think your idea is…just effing try. It may lead to something, it may not. But if you don’t effing try, you’ll never know the world that awaits you. When I first started Breaking Brews, I had no idea what it should or would become. I just had a vision for what it could be and decided to chase it. Yep, you guessed it…I knew I had to just effing try. And what’s it led to? So many new relationships, new friendships, new business partnerships, new ideas, and a world of opportunity. As a lyric reads in one of my favorite Rise Against songs, “You can’t spend your life waiting to live.”

Just Effing Try.

Mackenna Christmas 2015I always save the best for last. My little princess Mackenna is a week away from being six years old. I’d ask where the time went, but I live and die by my Google Calendar these days, so I’m pretty familiar with where the days have gone. She has become this incredibly polite little person who is quickly learning how to read, was able to count to 100 before anyone else in her class, and can sit and carry on a conversation about some of the craziest things. One of my favorite activities is to sit with her and say, “Tell me a story.” What her little imagination comes up with is entertaining, inspiring, and hilarious all at once. I can’t wait to see what the new year brings for her. She wasn’t too big on learning to ride her bike last summer…I’m hoping that changes this year.

To conclude, I do these little mashup things on my birthday every year to get some things out of my head. It lets me relive some pretty big events that took place throughout the last 365 days of the year and helps me age a little more gracefully.

If I can walk away with one lesson from my 2015 that’s applicable to everyone else as well, it’s this: Embrace the change. It’s inevitable…things will change. The people in your life, the direction your life takes, the path to the greater good…there’s nothing etched in stone to predict how all this unfolds. Keep your eye on the positives, look for the opportunity in every scenario, never let a mistake or a failure define you, be willing to learn from your setbacks, and I promise you…only the best lays ahead.

Until we mash things up again in 2016, CHEERS!





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