From Tech Job to Beer: Zach Clevenger Balances It All

 

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Photo/Alison Clevenger

Zach Clevenger, 33, works full time in IT and part time fun with his beer blog Hops About Beer. Originally from Visalia, California, Clevenger currently resides in Sacramento, California. He is a graduate of the University of Denver and started the blog in April, 2015, when his wife continuously pushed him to commit to a blog, since he was already recording his beer experiences in a notebook. Now with four thousand plus followers and counting, Clevenger offers hope for future bloggers saying it initial took a year for a substantial following but to stick with it.

“I’ve always really enjoyed beer but it wasn’t until about 8 years ago or so when I was 25 when I started getting into really good craft beer.” said Clevenger reminiscing about his current passion.

Clevenger’s internet presence doesn’t stop with his blog. He is currently working with a local Sacramento brewery called Bike Dog Brewing where he helps with their photography, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook postings.

Clevenger says, “I offered my services for free, as I just wanted to gain some actual brewery experience but I basically just get a ton of free beer so it all works out!”

Clevenger loves the aspect of connecting with people over a beer and says it is one of the most exciting aspects of running the blog. He notes, “it’s an amazing industry that is constantly evolving and it’s fun trying to keep up with all of the new trends.”

Having just started a family, Clevenger is finding himself busier than ever. When asked about the challenges he faces with the blog he mentions family, as well as other outside forces which slow down his blog interactions.

Clevenger states, “Adding new content is hardest. With a full-time job, a social media gig on the side, and the blog for fun, I don’t have a lot of time for new content. You’ll notice my reviews and articles have basically disappeared and photographs and industry news is all that’s being posted lately. I get press releases emailed to me daily from breweries so those are easy to post. Oh, and a 5-month-old at home on top of all that!”

With all the business, Clevenger still has time for one of his other big passions, football. Coincidentally, most Americans believe football and a nice cold beer go hand to hand, and hey, who is going to argue that? We all have a favorite go-to beer and most times certain craft beers can get a little pricey. Despite Clevenger’s love for craft beer, he says, “If I’m going to be drinking a ton (sometimes during football season), I’ll crack open a few Coors Lights.”

Like many beer enthusiasts, to offset the price of craft beer and also learn in the process, many try to home brew. Clevenger is no exception stating he has tried his own hand at home brewing.

“I started homebrewing just last year and fell in love with it. It can be very challenging but very rewarding. I also considered pursuing a brewing education so I could get a full-time job doing that but brewers get paid so poorly it wasn’t something I could do and support a family.”

Since Clevenger is from the West Coast, I personally was genuinely interested in the difference of beer due to brewing styles. For a while, each coast latched onto their identities but with the growing number of breweries and readily available knowledge, the line sometimes becomes blurred.

Clevenger having tasted both East and West Coast styles says “I have had east coast beers and it depends on what style of beer it is regarding how it compares. East Coast is killing it with the hazy beers but the west coast is catching up.”

For anyone looking to get into blogging and the future blog writing has for journalism, Clevenger simply says, “ I love blogging because anyone can do it. You don’t have to have a degree in journalism to start your own blog. Of course, nobody will care about your blog if your content sucks, so you better be able to convey something interesting.”

This definitely holds true and one of the many great aspects of the internet. If you are truly passionate about a subject, get out there, find good content, and blog to your heart’s desire. You never know who you will inspire or who will inspire you to overcome challenges and share an immense passion! 

Forgotten Boardwalk: A Photo Story

Forgotten Boardwalk is brewery located in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. They offer an awesome selection of beer and provide an awesome atmosphere to enjoy beer. From their 1960’s Jaws-themed boardwalk aesthetic to their Ski ball machines and board games, there is fun to surely be had for all ages. This is a brewery that should definitely be on your must-visit list.

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The entrance to Forgotten Boardwalk is subtly located in an industrial complex. Friday, March 10th, Forgotten Boardwalk, 1940 Only Ave., Cherry Hill, NJ. (Photo/Dakota Burr)

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If you’re having trouble selecting a beer, spin the wheel and it will make a choice for you. Friday, March 10th, Forgotten Boardwalk, 1940 Only Ave., Cherry Hill, NJ.(Photo/Dakota Burr)

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The current tap handles are in the shape of cat tails. Friday, March 10th, Forgotten Boardwalk, 1940 Only Ave., Cherry Hill, NJ. (Photo/Dakota Burr)

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Kai Bollinger, a local of Mt. Laurel, pours a beer for a customer. Friday, March 10th, Forgotten Boardwalk, 1940 Only Ave., Cherry Hill, NJ. Bollinger has been working at the brewery since it opened and loves it. (Photo/Dakota Burr)

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A fan favorite, Funnel Cake Nitro mixed with orange juice to make a creamsicle beer. Friday, March 10th, Forgotten Boardwalk, 1940 Only Ave., Cherry Hill, NJ. (Photo/Dakota Burr)

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An old horse from a carousel is affixed above the fridge where you can stop in and grab canned beer for home. Friday, March 10th, Forgotten Boardwalk, 1940 Only Ave., Cherry Hill, NJ. (Photo/Dakota Burr)

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(L-R) Jessica Westlake, James Westlake, and Meghan Westlake enjoy pizza and beer, Friday, March 10th, Forgotten Boardwalk, 1940 Only Ave., Cherry Hill, NJ. It’s Jessica’s first time and James and Meghan love to come for the IPA’s and Ski ball. (Photo/Dakota Burr)

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Rockhill, a local eatery/pizza joint delivers delicious pies to Forgotten Boardwalk. Friday, March 10th, Forgotten Boardwalk, 1940 Only Ave., Cherry Hill, NJ. (Photo/Dakota Burr)

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A witty sign that promises to make your child rowdy. Shortly after a young girl lobbed a ball and missed the ramp of the Ski ball machine. Friday, March 10th, Forgotten Boardwalk, 1940 Only Ave., Cherry Hill, NJ. (Photo/Dakota Burr)

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A patron rolls a ball in an effort to make it on the Ski ball scoreboard. Friday, March 10th, Forgotten Boardwalk, 1940 Only Ave., Cherry Hill, NJ. (Photo/Dakota Burr)

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Fixed along the walls are old black and white pictures on canvas printed with quotes. Friday, March 10th, Forgotten Boardwalk, 1940 Only Ave., Cherry Hill, NJ. (Photo/Dakota Burr)

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All the doors are labeled with numbers much like a fun house. Friday, March 10th, Forgotten Boardwalk, 1940 Only Ave., Cherry Hill, NJ. (Photo/Dakota Burr)

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Hung all around the tasting room are fun house mirrors replicating the 1960’s boardwalk theme. Friday, March 10th, Forgotten Boardwalk, 1940 Only Ave., Cherry Hill, NJ. (Photo/Dakota Burr)

Timely Pitman Brewery is a Huge Hit With the Locals

 

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Current tap list at Kelly Green Brewing Company, Pitman, N.J., Sunday, March 5th, 2017. (Photo/Dakota Burr)

 

The borough of Pitman, New Jersey, is small and could be very much so considered off the grid. Ever since moving up to the Glassboro area, I discovered the town due to a need for guitar strings in which I found an overpriced music shop. Since then, I’ve been exploring the little town. I’ve seen that it has a lot to offer, from food, craft stores, even now, to beer. Historically a dry town, Pitman still has no bars or liquor stores. To my surprise, from talking to some locals, the history doesn’t just stop there. In 1871, land was chosen to be set aside for a Methodist summer camp and the New Jersey Conference Camp Meeting Association was officially chartered and given authority over the land grant in 1872. The land became know as Pitman Grove which had an auditorium located on a central meeting ground with twelve roads originated from the central area designed as spokes on a wheeleach road representing one of the disciples of Jesus. The camp was somewhat set up like a boardwalk on the Alcyon lake and people came from all over to retreat in the popular destination. Eventually attracting visitors to stay past the summer, people began to build cottages along the roads and Pitman eventually became its own town.

 

So, que the historically dry town. You’re probably wondering how there is a brewery? New Jersey passed a law that gives more freedoms to small breweries such as, permitting microbreweries to sell beer brewed at the licensed location for consumption on premises as part of a brewery tour, allowing microbreweries to sell a limited amount of beer for off-site consumption, and allowing microbreweries to offer samples of their product both on and off the premises, as currently permitted by the state’s wineries. Since a brewery is not a bar or liquor store, it gained approval from Pitman and Progress began.

I decided to stop by Kelly Green Brewing Company in Pitman where I was pleasantly surprised by the rustic, bustling nano-brewery. First, I started off my time in the brewery by ordering a flight of some of their beers to whet my palate. Naturally, being an IPA fan, the beers in my flight were the Off Broadway IPA, Udder One IPA, The Informant IPA, and To The Pain IPA. Offering more than just IPA’s, you’re sure to be pleased from their The Teets Milk Stout to their Engrain Coffee Porter which is a local collaboration Endgrain Coffee Bar. You can either choose to sample your beers at the bar or move to a wooden barrel for use a table, which I found rad and a great aesthetic booster. In the back of the brewery, by the restrooms, you can see into a window which showcases the equipment and room that the beer is brewed in, another cool feature of Kelly Green.

Bruce Coller, a local of Pitman for fifteen years says, “I love it. I’m able to walk 90 yards from my house after a long day and enjoy fresh local beer”. Coller says his favorite beer is #99, A full-bodied brown ale that is smooth and malty with subtle hints of chocolate. As he sat and enjoyed his beer he was ecstatic and pointing to the bartender said, “no one at the bar waits for a beer when Mike is here”.

Coincidently, the man Coller pointed to was one of the three owners Mike Tacconelli. He spoke of his love for beer and how his partnership with his best friends allowed Kelly Green to become a reality. Tacconelli said, “One of the biggest things about being a bartender is about being able to eavesdrop on about 10 different conversations and being able to constantly engage with customers”. Tacconelli went on to discuss his early days bartending in Philadelphia and the greatest bartender he had ever known, a man named Leo. “The best part about Leo is if you asked him to make you a frilly cocktail, he’d say ok and then walk into the back. He’d wait a little bit and then walk right back out and smack a beer onto the bar in front of the customer and say that’s what you’re getting! People were shocked and just walked away drinking their beer”, said Tacconelli.

There is no time to be shy when you step into Kelly Green. Pitman, already being a small town, is filled with a tight-knit group of people, and they get thirsty too. The brewery was a really great environment to see a town come together at the end of the day to enjoy a beer. If you’re looking for a small, homey feeling spot to enjoy a beer, then Kelly Green hits the marks. Locals of Pitman are not the only ones who frequent this brewery, but students from local Rowan University do as well. In the words of Rowan University student, Nicholas Zampelle, 23, “ I can’t believe I didn’t find this spot sooner”.

Next week Kelly Green is set to release a new beer called John “Quad” Van Damme that will bolster an ABV over 10%. You may need an Uber ride for this beer! So, stop in and say hi to Tacconelli or anyone else for that matter and strike up a friendly conversation. Who knows what you might learn!

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Flight of Off Broadway IPA, Udder One IPA, The Informant IPA, and To The Pain IPA at Kelly Green Brewing Company, Pitman, N.J., Sunday, March 5th, 2017. (Photo/Dakota Burr)