We’ve got a number of engineers on our team, from events and sales to admin, production, and the Tasting Room. One of our newest team members, Gavin Lewis, is no exception!
Gavin wowed our Tasting Room staff when he first visited the brewery, and since we were hiring more staff members for the sure-to-be crazy summer, we knew Gavin would be the perfect fit for the team.
He’s articulate, thoughtful, and always ready to lend a helping hand.
Meet Tasting Room Associate Gavin Lewis!
“Gavin is a real rockstar. He is hardworking, he hustles and he is a really great addition to the team. He always makes sure that we are fully stocked on the floor and ready to best serve our customers,” Brewtique Manager Kaitlyn Smith says.
Gavin grew up in Mountain Top, PA, a gorgeous little area outside of Scranton in eastern Pennsylvania.
He was three years old when he first started playing hockey, and it’s been a huge factor in his life.
“I played pretty high level hockey growing up. Pro guys would come in and out of our team,” he says.
Gavin balanced two sports in high school, hockey and volleyball, and, as if that isn’t challenging enough, he hustled in the summer and time off as a part-time server, as much of his nights and weekends during the school year were taken up by sports.
“It was called Arena Bar & Grill. We have the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, the AHL team, near us, so they would come out after their games. The owner of the restaurant would always gas us up. Any time one of us hockey guys was working, she’d point it out to the pros,” he says with a laugh.
“It wasn’t a fair comparison at all. I play for a club and I’m in 10th grade. These guys are making $100,000 a year playing hockey,” he says. “But all of those guys would take interest and ask where I play, or ask me if I knew certain people. It’s an interesting culture because everyone’s so similar.”
Gavin’s position is goalie, which plays a unique role in the sport. Whereas forwards can play defense or vice versa, goalies are pretty singular in focus, and they tend to be much smaller and lighter on their feet than the 6’ 4” – 6’ 5” guys in the center of the ice.
“It’s because of the quickness and flexibility needed for the position,” Gavin says. “We don’t take hits at all. Our gear is only built for protection from a puck. We only have protection in the front as well, unlike the other guys, who have padding all around,” he says.
The position can be pretty competitive, but ultimately, teams rely on their goalies to make or break a game.
“If you’re a goalie and you’re off, there’s no shot at coming back, your team loses,” he says.
Gavin is an only child, but he had the opportunity to help host a few hockey players who came to his area to improve their play and for better opportunities than they had in their hometowns.
He took French in middle and high school, and one year, he and his family had two French-Canadian kids who lived with them to play hockey.
“In Quebec specifically, their hockey is based like how our little league programs are. So, where you live is where you play. If you lived in a bad area, you were playing bad hockey. So a lot of those families would send their kids to places all over Canada or the U.S. and have them live with a family and play hockey and get better,” he says.
“I would take French II during the day, and I would get back from school and we’d go to hockey and we’re speaking French. We’d get back from practice and we’re speaking French. It was like learning the language the entire time,” he says. “It was night and day, to the point where they transferred me up two levels of French because I was doing better than even some of the French V or AP kids.”
He hasn’t spoken it for five years, but can still dust it off if needed!
For a few months, a Ukranian kid came to live with them as well.
“My family would get a stipend for food or expenses. A lot of times families do it for the experience. It gave me the chance to have brothers and other people in the house,” he says.
After high school, Gavin went to Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, NY, for college, majoring in chemical engineering.
“The best example to explain that field would be this scenario: a scientist comes to you with a new toothpaste that they designed. They have it in a vial and they’re happy with it and want to make it worldwide. As a chemical engineer, we have to scale that up and turn that into a factory,” he says.
(Ed. note: Sounds a bit like our process for testing out new beer to scale up!)
“That was our senior project. We had to take ammonia hydride solution, and using chemical engineering software, like CHEMCAD, spec out every single piece of equipment that would be in the factory, like a pip that is this diameter, a pump that’s rated for this power going into a mixer that’s spinning this fast,” he says. “It was four days a week, two hours each class for two semesters. It was intense.”
(Ed. note: That’s the most insane sounding kind of simulation game we could imagine. We’ll stick to building imaginary rollercoasters and writing about beer, thanks.)
Gavin has a passion for beer as well, and understands the complexity of making beer on the scale that we do.
“That’s the hardest thing. Just because you have one unit of beer that you want to make 100 units of, it’s not just 100 times itself. Some of the simplest equations we would deal with to solve some of these issues could be a nightmare,” he says with a smile.
Although he didn’t plan on playing hockey in college, planning instead to pursue volleyball, it was something that fell into his lap.
“When I got to RIT, I made the club volleyball team. I’m at some party, and there’s a guy from the club hockey team,” he says.
The guy asks Gavin where he played, and convinces him to come for a trial, just a trial, to see what he thinks.
“I go to one practice, and they pull me aside after 20 minutes to say hey, you have to play for us,” he says with a laugh.
“I played half the year for them. We had a D1 varsity team up at RIT, too. They had two of their goalies go down injured, so I actually finished the year with the D1 team. I was 18 years old playing with guys who were 24 years old. All those guys are Canadian, and they play junior level until they’re 21 and then go to college,” he says.
That had to be extremely intimidating, but Gavin took it all in stride.
“It was really weird at first, because I joined the team with two weeks left before the playoffs. It was me and someone who was a club goalie from a previous year,” Gavin says.
Unfortunately, the other guy wasn’t nearly as gifted or skilled as Gavin is.
“We ended up winning our division. Those guys are so cool, too. I’d been with them for two weeks, and we’re all in the locker room after our championship game celebrating, and I just had this feeling like, this was fun, but I didn’t really do anything,” he says.
“But they all came up to me and made sure I was going to the party that night. They were all really inclusive,” he says. “When you win your division, you get rings from the college, and at first, I didn’t put my measurements down, because I’d barely been there, you know? But the captain came up to me and was like, hey, put your fucking ring size down,” he says with a laugh.
Now, he’s got a badass D1 ring to commemorate that first experience.
“I stayed with the D1 guys for two and a half years. I even ended up having two hip surgeries, just from playing hockey,” he says.
When we wince, Gavin shakes his head.
“I needed them anyway, and the school paid for them,” he says. “I’d rather do it then than now. They said if I didn’t do the surgeries, I’d need a hip replacement by age 27 or 28.”
Much of the needs for the goalie position can put hips under a lot of stress, causing bone issues, like ossification.
“My hips are totally normal now,” he says.
After college, Gavin admits he had a couple of offers to play hockey professionally. Although, it wasn’t quite what people might expect.
“They offered four or five hundred bucks a month, but it doesn’t leave you any time for a part-time job, so that would be hard to swing,” he says.
One particular head coach approached him, and after Gavin looked the league up, the first thing that appeared was a news article of a player who was suspended for twenty games.
“His team won a face-off, and they had the puck at center ice with five seconds left in the game. He turns around towards the opposing coach’s bench and rips a slap shot right at the coach,” Gavin says, shaking his head. “I was like, this is such a Goon league, I love it.”
His first position out of college was for a startup company, and Gavin is taking some time now to focus on his role at Cape May Brewing Company as he looks towards next steps.
“Maybe I’m still in the honeymoon phase, but with Cape May Brewing, it’s not ‘I have to go to work,’ it’s ‘I get to go to work,’” he says.
Part of the reason why he joined us part-time initially was to meet more people, as well. “Now, I’m actually making friends and we go out together,” he says.
“I think the managers run such a good ship,” he says. “Or when an issue is brought up, it’s dealt with right away. Kaitlyn got us lockers behind the Brewtique because there was no more space in the break room, and we didn’t have a dedicated space to put our things. It’s little things like that show that people actually care.”
Lucky for Gavin, even with our extended hours for summer, he’d still be able to find time to make it up to Atlantic City for the hockey leagues.
“They’ve got a Flyers Skate Zone up there,” he says. “Their men’s leagues often start at 10pm or later, even on Friday nights,” he says.
When he’s not killing it at work or on the field, Gavin enjoys winding down with some video games.
Currently, he’s playing Overwatch, Valorant, Apex Legends, Call of Duty: Warzone, and various sports games.
“I play a lot of sports games, but mostly shooters,” he says. “Or Esport-style games. Something competitive where there is a winner and a loser.”
Gavin stays hustling even in his free time!
“One of my best friends is working on the new Call of Duty, Infinity War,” he says. “He’s a graphic designer, and they do playtests of the games before launch. One day, he took out the CEO during a match, and just teabagged him. It’s not disrespectful at all, it’s just expected.”
(Ed. note: -cue facepalm-)
“After I graduated, I treated myself to a gaming PC,” he says. “I was on console for so long.”
Due to the ongoing graphics card and computer part issues, Gavin ended up grabbing a prebuilt PC from Micro Center in Philadelphia. “If you can get retail parts at MSRP in stock, it’s preferable to build your own,” he says. “But I’d spend, for the same system, $3500 and wait two or three months more to get all the parts in versus grabbing the prebuilt I did for $1900.”
“I was a controller gamer for 12 years, and when I switched to PC, it took me six weeks to get to the same skill level,” he says with a laugh. “I’m so much better now.”
He taught himself how to play bass guitar while he was in high school, and when he has time, he plays now and then as well.
“I love listening to rap, but you can’t really play that on an instrument, so I love playing classic rock, like Steel Panther and Mötley Crüe,” he says.
As far as music, some of his other favorite artists include Kodak Black, Lil Tjay, Drake, and Poison.
The first Cape May beer he ever had is an unusual one: Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Milkshake IPA.
“I loved it,” he says. “I loved Ice Cream Twist as well. I stocked up, because I knew they were going to sell out quickly.”
“I’m a porter and stout guy,” he says. “Unfortunately, it’s harder to get those this time of year.”
You’ll likely find Gavin behind the bar during the week, or in the Brewtique on weekends. Next time you stop by, make sure you say hi and get to know him more!