Cellar Man / Packaging
John grew up in Springfield and attended Colorado State University in the ‘90s, where, as his father likes to tell people, He crammed four years of college into five years (largely due to the craft beer scene in Fort Collins), graduating with a degree in history. After spending a few months in New Zealand after graduation, John landed back in Springbilly and taught 6th grade social studies for 13 years, dabbling in the craft beer world at the same time. In 2014, He finally quit teaching and made the logical transition from public education to alcohol, founding and operating Mother Road Mobile Canning until joining the Springfield Brew Crew in 2019.
Here’s more on John and what happened during his first time packaging beer:
How did you start at SBC?
As I was transitioning out of mobile beer canning, two of my friends with whom I had worked at Mother’s years ago were working at BrewCo (Mother’s Others, as we like to call ourselves) and another brewer was departing soon, so I was brought on to fill her spot.
Favorite Beer Memory & Worst beer memory?
One of my favorite beer memories was meeting Doug Odell, of Odell Brewing in Fort Collins, at Patton Alley Pub. Their 90 Schilling has always been one of my favorite beers, as proven by the thousands of pints of it that I consumed while at Colorado State University. If I recall correctly, Mr. Odell was at Patton Alley because it was the top selling 90 Schilling account east of Colorado that year. I like to think I played a part in getting him to Springfield.
That’s one of the many wonderful things about beer: if things are going that bad, drink more and you’ll erase the bad memories.
Dream beer vacation?
Any vacation. With beer.
First time packaging beer, what happened?
First time canning was a shit show. Tons of waste, struggling to learn the equipment and the ideal set up and beer conditions. Watching all that beer hit the floor and the seeing the looks of horror on the clients’ faces, all I could think was, “What the hell have I done? I gave up a stable teaching career for this?!” I literally cried (I’m not a very macho person, as anyone who knows me will laughingly tell you). Luckily, we got it figured out.
What superpower would you have and why?
Being able to converse with animals, especially dogs. Especially our five dogs. I talk to them a lot now, but they definitely don’t listen to me. They have me trained much better than I have them trained.
Favorite piece of brewing terminology/lingo?
Beer-thirty. Or “quality assurance.” That’s mainly tasting beer.
Favorite SBC beer?
Currently Dingledein Pre-Prohibition Lager. Green Ghost IPA when Dingledein isn’t available.
What is the most amount of beer you have packaged at one time?
We canned over a thousand cases of 16 ounce cans over 13-14 hours years ago in Denver. It sucked.
Do you have any talents or skills that most people don’t know about?
Making a short story really, really long.
Tell me someone you admire and why?
I have to cheat and name two: my sister and my fiancée. Again, let me make this very clear, these are two people. I’m not engaged to my sister. My sister Hilary Mertens, even though she tormented me horribly growing up, because she has taught elementary school for 20+ years, while raising two wonderful boys (now young men), taking care of horses, MANY dogs and cats, a bunch guineafowl, and an occasional stray emu on her farm, and spending most of what little spare time she has rescuing stray animals and volunteering with Haven of the Ozarks No-Kill Animal Sanctuary near Cassville. Her husband Marty is maybe the more admirable one for putting up with her and all of her animals.
My fiancée Jennifer Silverberg because she has built a successful brick and mortar business (Fetch Pet Supplies and Gifts) in a time when that is not the easiest thing to do. Her business consumes the majority of her time, but she, like my sister, spends most of her spare time volunteering with Haven of the Ozarks, where she is treasurer. Her most admirable quality, however, is being able to tolerate me.