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Good Beer Hunting

May 13, 2023

Today’s guest, if we’re speaking in beer years, is a lifelong friend. But what feels like a lifetime really only started around 2011 in Chicago when Good Beer Hunting, at the time just a personal hobby of mine, was basically unknown outside of a small community in Chicago. At the time, Paul Schneider was still a history teacher in the burbs homebrewing and volunteering at small start-up breweries around the area. 

We met at a Goose Island First Thursday event, which was a loosely defined monthly occasion where fans got together in the Seibel Institute room in front of the Clybourn Brewpub. We would share dark Goose Island beers, home-brews, and other sought after bottles. It was truly the glory days of the 2nd wave of craft beer kind of thing. 

The timeline is too full of milestones between then and now, but here’s a quick look at Paul’s career in craft beer:

  • after volunteering around town, he got his first real gig at Solemn Oath in Naperville—as one of their first employees. 

  • he went on to fill a broad role there between operations, special creative projects, some brewing and marketing

  • he left to sign on as a founding brewer as a partner in a brewery in Pittsburgh that he initially consulted on and then was offered the role once they realize the multi-faceted talent and experience he brought

  • that led me and Paul to work together in an official capacity for the first time, as GBH signed on to the project to help define the brand and trajectory of the brewery with Paul and the Warden family, for what would become known as Cinderlands 

Since then Paul has become a brewer’s brewer, making precise Lagers, exquisite Saisons, as well as crowd-pleasers like their sought-after Tartshake series. 

Paul’s unique perspective as a brewer, and also a student and former teacher of history, gives him a view on humanity and how beer fits into it that is uncommonly balanced. There’s an auteur in him of the finer elements of brewing. But there’s also the practical business person who knows better than to push back against the demands of the market. In fact, rather than be mutually exclusive as so many small operators often see these seemingly opposing forces—he seems to elegantly align the two to create opportunities for himself and others that are truly satisfying as a creator. 

And that’s not to say that holding that line is easy. It’s a position that’s maintained through a constantly shifting, reflective, informed effort to navigate a very human marketplace that can be both high-minded, hype-driven, and incredibly fickle at times. 

The history of beer is like the history of all things fashionable. And the present is no exception. 

Paul was in town for a collaboration release with his friends at Solemn Oath, and a bit of a homecoming. So we took the moment to catch up on some of these threads and open some bottles for friends and peers at the studio. We were also finalizing plans for our latest collaborative project—Cindi’s Hard Mountain Tea—which is launching at PNC park in Pittsburgh as I speak.