Meet Your Maker: Andrew De Haan

July 17, 2017

We love mead. Heck, that’s why we spend literally every waking moment making, tasting, and enjoying it.

But have you ever thought about the brave humans who wade waist-deep in the honey to create this exquisite beverage, the oldest known alcoholic beverage in the world?

We figured it was high time to give our makers the spotlight, and to gain some insight into what their jobs entail- the hardships, the not-so-hardships (the easyships?), the agony and the ecstasy of artfully creating liquid gold.

FEST-Pizza-small

What do you call yourself, and what do others call you?  

I call myself Andrew De Haan, as that’s the name that was given to me by my fore-bearers. People call me Andrew or Big Pizza/Pizza. In the words of Andrew WK, “Don’t call me Andy.”

 

How long have you worked for B. Nektar?

Almost 2 years, minus a 4 month stint at the Brewery-That-Shall-Not-Be-Named.

 

What’s your favorite B. Nektar beverage and why?  

Slice of Life, because it’s the driest, spiciest, most incredibly crushable beverage we make.

 

Can you describe a typical workday as a Meadmaker?

Not sure there is a typical day for me. I do a lot of scheduling, planning for future batches, meetings and recipe calculation for small batches, working on process improvements, managing resources and inventory, and cleaning.

 

How about an atypical day?

 Actually making the product. Occasionally I will run the filter or do small additions, but it’s pretty rare for me to work directly with the honey or cider.

 

What’s been your biggest triumph as a Meadmaker? 

I do not view mead-making or brewing as being about big triumphs. It’s about a series of small accomplishments, all adding up to something bigger. With each batch or step in the process, there is something to take away from the experience. The thing I am most proud of was working with a couple people to reduce the time it takes to make some of our core products by a number of weeks. Each change in process made, over several months time, both increased our knowledge and the quality of our product. As a former co-worker of mine would say, “Quality is consistency,” and since I have been with B. Nektar, we have tightened our belts and are currently making the most consistent product I have seen us make. We have further to go, more to learn, always, onward and upward.

 

What is your ultimate form?

A super cereal creature once described by Al Gore as being half man, half bear, half pig.

 

What’s been the most important lesson you’ve learned in Meadmaking? 

Be patient. Rushing often leads to details skipped and corners cut, which will show up in the product.

 

Tell us about your amazing nickname:

 
When I was a brewer at Bell’s in Kalamazoo, I lived alone on the 3rd floor of an old house, full of musical instruments, beer and pizza. Since I worked with several other people named Andrew, one guy started calling me Big Pizza because of my love/consumption of pizza. I embraced it. When I came to B. Nektar, there was already another Andrew, so the nickname traveled with me. I no longer consume that much pizza on a regular basis, though definitely above average for most humans. My goals now are making it myself from scratch. I’m working on my dough recipe, as well as my oven skills. I hope to make homemade mozzarella soon, and one day build my own backyard, wood-fired oven.

 

What’s the most incredible event you’ve ever witnessed?

 A former maker pushing a tote full of cider off a back of a semi-truck. RIP Matthew.

 

Additional fun facts about you: 

I play bass and guitar; am an awarded poet and avid reader; am engaged to an incredible woman, Kate, and the adoptive father of the best doggle, Violet.

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