Mug Shots: The Chicken Special
Take a peek beyond the beer you love to drink with our blog series titled, "Mug Shots." There are a lot of folks here at Boulder Beer who play a huge role in our day to day success. This is our way of introducing you to the team that makes it all happen. It's time for you to meet Beer Jedi, Chicken Dan! More than just America's favorite white meat, Chicken Dan has become the voice of Boulder Beer and a familiar face both here at the brewery and out in the market. He has been spreading the good word of Boulder Beer since 2002 and is truly passionate about his job. If you work in the beverage industry, ever go to the bar or simply like beer, there a good chance you've had a Chicken Dan encounter, and one wouldn't soon forget it if they had!
Formerly a part of the Marketing team, Dan has progressed into more of a sales role these days. His current business card reads, "Chicken Dan Beer Jedi," which leaves some room for interpretation, but essentially Dan is our Sales Operations Director. "Basically, I run the numbers, analyze success and failures in the market, and work with the sales team to fish where the fish are," explained Dan. "As a member of the Branding Team, I get to name new beers and help pull the lever on the trapdoor under brands that need to take a break. I also do a lot of market visits; next week I'll be in Florida, conveniently in February. I like to meet with distributors, retailers and customers to get a feel for the scene in different parts of the country. I also run the Export Development Program (currently in Sweden, Panama and Aruba -- hopefully visit there next January, hah hah), and am the point man for a couple of major chain restaurants and grocery stores working with them to keep our brands fresh and available." One of his favorite things to do at work is host brewery tours. "I'm an OG who loves spreading the love of craft beer throughout the US," said Dan.
He is a Colorado native from Fort Collins, and currently lives in Niwot. Dan and his wife Laura have a Brady Bunch of five boys ranging in age from 15 to 23. One lives in Hawaii, one in Chicago, one in Fort Collins and two in Niwot. Fun fact: Niwot is named after Chief Niwot and is Native American for "Left Hand." Read about Chief Niwot and the "Curse of Boulder Valley" here. Dan's favorite Boulder brew is Mojo IPA and he loves to order a chicken sandwich- Royale style with fries. "Just don't tell my wife about the fries," said Dan. He spent two years sailing in the Virgin Islands when he was younger, which definitely didn't suck. He is also the front man for the Chicken Dan Band that formed in 2003 playing rhythm guitar and lead vocals. "We haven't officially broken up," said Dan, "because every time we play it’s our Farewell Tour!" He also enjoys acting in local theatre, and most recently played Eddie and Dr. Scott in a production of the Rocky Horror Show a few years ago in Fort Collins. His other love in life is golf. Dan's favorite golf course is Southridge in Fort Collins where he once shot a 168 yard hole in one on #8 (t was an eight iron, for those of you wanting to know.) That my friends, is the magic of Chicken Dan.
Back in the day, like wayyyy back, Dan was a student at Occidental College in Los Angeles who was interested in both acting and journalism. Realizing he didn't quite have the face for acting, he studied journalism instead. He decided in 1997 that he wanted to get into the craft beer industry. Why? "To meet girls." Within a couple of months, he said, he had met all four of them. "This is an example of one of my hundreds of uninformed life choices," explained Dan. As reality sank in, Dan decided to stick with the beer business because of his love for craft beer and storytelling. Whether it's talking about the beer flavor profile, history of the brewery or the industry in general, Dan has been storytelling now for the last 18 years. "It's been a great career with lots more to come," said Dan. We asked Dan to tell us one of his favorite stories about Boulder Beer Company. He recalled the day they came up with a name for our Imperial Oktoberfest brew. Dan and Senior Marketing Director, Tess McFadden, were bouncing ideas around but everything they Googled was already taken. The Head Brewer had been sitting in on the conversation and said, "Well, you guys continue doing what you do, I'm going to go drag some hoses around." Thus, Dragonhosen was born.
Most of us in the craft beer industry are not in it for the money. We're in it for the fun! In addition to delicious craft beer and fun work perks, Dan has had the opportunity to travel to a lot of really cool places. Some of the fun places he's traveled to for work include Chicago, San Francisco, Cleveland ("really, it's fun, believe it or not"), Philly, and many more. "Of course Boulder is the best!" exclaimed Dan. "In addition to traveling to some cool places, I've also had the opportunity to meet some really cool people." Dan's advice to anyone looking to get their foot in the door, is to love beer first. (As we mentioned before, you're not getting into this for the money.) "Don't be afraid to get your hands dirty," said Dan. Do your research and learn as much as you can about craft beer. Study the industry. It's these truly passionate people we are looking for.
Dan shared with us a story from 2004, our 25th Anniversary. "We were at the Great American Beer Festival where we had just finished building an actual goat shed for our booth," said Dan. "It was 5pm and the sea of people started rushing in. I said to the Head Brewer, 'Wow- I feel like we're at a rock concert and we're the band!' To which he replied, 'No Dan. I'm the rock star and you're the roadie.' I feel that this is true in all aspects of our job." The moral of this story? "Our job in sales and marketing is to get people to buy our beer once. It's the brewers’ job to keep them coming back," Dan explained.
We've done a lot of fun promotions over the years, including the Brewmaster's "Can Your Beer Me Now?' with burner phones hidden in 12 packs, our still raging annual Scavenger Hunt and many more. Dan's favorite was when we first introduced Hazed and the tagline "Hey, Man, Let's Get Hazed" which has a bit of a double meaning. "Back then, there was a hard copy of The Onion, and we had a year-long contract, so every week we drew these two stick figures that swapped puns about getting hazed. A lot of them were pretty hilarious, brainstormed over (only?) beers, of course," said Dan. Best of: "Our potato skins are twice baked," "Hazed: cure for the chronic thirst" "Perfect for the high holidays" and of course "Hey, man, how high is Boulder?" Thanks Dan, we couldn't have done it without you! Dan is looking forward to a collaboration brew with Fat Heads from Cleveland that's in the works for this year's Collaboration Fest. The brew will be named Co-Hopitation and will use a Hefeweizen yeast and have an IPA hop profile.
One of Dan's favorite memories from his years here at Boulder Beer is when production team member, Bill Pringle, won the 14er Award. This is awarded once a yearto the person who most exemplifies the spirit of Boulder Beer. This person is a pleasure to work with, has outstanding work ethics and a positive attitude. "When Bill won the award, it proved to me that we're really a family," said Dan. "The entire brewing and production team were so happy that he won. It showed how much they appreciate his spirit." Read more about Bill Pringle here. "I also really enjoyed cooking for the whole team with David 'Salty Waffles' Zuckerman," said Dan. He and David teamed up in the kitchen this year for our annual staff party. "I was in charge of the grill: peppers, bacon, sausage and eggs," said Dan. (We have a feeling you may be in charge of waffles next year too.) "Playing with the Chicken Dan Band (aka. Chicken Dan and the 6-piece Combo) out on the back patio every summer has been awesome as well," said Dan.
So what's with the whole "Chicken Dan" thing? "A myth is better than the reality" he says. Therefore, get your imagination in gear, because we'd like to leave you with a challenge and ask you, why 'Chicken Dan?' We're holding a contest for the origin story behind the name 'Chicken Dan.' Hint: it's music related and does not/may not include any reference to the Chicken Dance. Please email your submissions to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Winner will be announced on Monday, February 29 and will receive a Boulder Beer swag bag. Good luck!
Thanks Dan, for all your years of hard work and for all you do here at Boulder Beer!