Cellarman Brad Young is no stranger to the industry. He’d been working up the street a spell at Ludlam Island for a few years before coming to Cape May.
“When I met Brad, after about 2 minutes it was obvious that he would fit in here like a glove,” says Director of Brewing Operations Jimmy Valm. “Couple that with his previous experience working with a great brewery like Ludlam Island and it was an obvious choice to snag him up and bring him on board with us. It’s apparent that it was a good decision, too; he’s been a fantastic addition to our team here.”
“It’s a really small school,” he tells us. “I was going for education, was going to be a high school social studies teacher. I ended up not finishing that, but Cairn is a small, biblical college, so everybody double majored. You had your biblical studies thing and then you had whatever your major was. So, when the time came to graduate, I was feeling like I wasn’t going to follow the teacher path anymore, but I had enough credits to get a Bachelors of Science in Biblical Studies, so that’s what I did.”
He started homebrewing just after he turned 21, while he was still at biblical school.
“Well, I had to do it when I came home,” he laughs.
After college, Brad moved back home and worked at the OC Surf Cafe for about five years, moving up the ranks until he was eventually running the kitchen, before it was time to move on.
“I was always into beer,” he says. “Then when Ludlam opened up, I popped in to try the beer, and ended up with a job.”
Ludlam Island, one of Cape May County’s seven breweries, had only been open for about two months before Brad happened along. There was an intern from Nebraska working behind the bar who was planning to return home, and Brad jumped at the opening.
“The intern put in a good word for me,” he says. “He was like, ‘This guy knows what he’s doing more than I do.’ I talked with the guys down there, and they were like, ‘Let’s do this!’”
He stayed with Ludlam for about two years.
“I learned everything,” he says. “I can’t say enough good things about those guys. It really prepared me for this next step.”
While he was at Ludlam, a friend approached him about driving cross-country with him. As anyone in this business will attest, we don’t really get much time off, particularly when you’re the main one-armed paper hanger at a smaller brewery. So, they did the trip in three days.
“My buddy was moving to Tuscon,” he explains. “He called me up one day — he’s one of my best friends; we’ve been friends since the first grade — and he says, ‘Hey, I’m gonna go to Tuscon for four months. Wanna head out there with me?’ I was like, ‘Hell, yeah!’”
“Austin was a little bit out of the way, but it was worth it to see Austin and hang out with friends,” he says. “We crashed on their couch, so it was better than paying for a hotel room. We were there for a total of twelve hours, but we had so much fun.”
Austin is well-known for its music scene, and Brad’s friend is a cocktail waitress at an underground jazz club.
“It was super cool,” he says. “Dimly lit, literally in a basement. Jazz music. So cool.”
They grabbed some Texas barbecue, then hit a bakery-slash-bar called Easy Tiger which sits on a small tributary of the Colorado River, sampling some local brews.
On their way to Tuscon the next day, they drove across Western Texas, which is a lot of nothing for hours on end.
“Seeing the country is obviously a whirlwind but super cool,” he said. “You see a ton of stuff, but it’s so fast.”
They listened to the audiobook of The Fellowship of the Ring the entire trip. As Brad is already well known around the brewery as a Deadhead, it’s a little surprising that their trip wasn’t filled with Drums and Space.
“I could listen to the Grateful Dead all day,” he says, “and, you know, you can, and it would be only one song.”
He’s seen Dead & Co. a few times with John Mayer fronting them. Word on the street is that “Johnny Salami” does a stellar job filling in for the late Jerry Garcia.
“It’s music I grew up listening to with my dad,” he says. “Grateful Dead. Allman Brothers. Little Feat. I actually got to see Little Feat with my dad on the Ocean City boardwalk. That’s my dad’s favorite band — I literally grew up listening to them all the time.”
When he’s not roadtripping or hitting Dead shows, Brad loves spending time with his Australian Shepherd, Banja.
He also loves spending time outside, camping, backpacking, paddleboarding, surfing, “all that fun stuff.”
Regardless of his time away from work, when it came to his time at Ludlam, he knew it was time to move on.
“I was ready for the next step,” he says. “Again, love Ludlam, but it was small. It got to the point where I knew that this was what I wanted to do for real. And Cape May is making a lot of beer. It’s legit. It’s a production brewery, and I wanted to see what that was like. I wanted to get that experience.”
Having been in the industry for a while, he’d already known a lot of the guys here. Someone mentioned that we were hiring, so he came down and met with Jimmy Valm, our Director of Brewing Operations.
He was no stranger to Cape May, having grown up in the area.
“Before Ocean City, I went to a small, private school in Cape May Court House,” he explains. “I had a lot of friends from down here, so I was always down here. As I got older, I was always coming down here, coming to the brewery, hitting the Ferry. It’s a nice little town.”
He’s looking forward to learning a lot while he’s here, and it sounds like he’s really going to enjoy doing so.
Brad particularly enjoys the company culture.
“I love when I get off at four,” he says, “and hopping across the street, having a beer with the guys you work with, talking with the Tasting Room folks. I think that’s super important — the chance to sit down with your coworkers and have a beer.”
And when he does get a chance to sit down and have that beer, he’s usually reaching for an Oktoberfest.
“I just love lager,” he says. “And it’s a damn good Oktoberfest.”
Be sure to say hello to Brad the next time you run into him in the Tasting Room!