One of our newest Brewtique crew members, Kristi Gentek, is also probably one of our friendliest.
“Kristi brings a positive attitude to the Brewtique,” says Tasting Room General Manager Chris Costello. “She’s always willing to jump in and help the team whenever she can. She’s also got a bit of an artistic side, and that always helps us out in the Tasting Room.”
Originally from Cape May County, Kristi grew up not far from the brewery in Rio Grande and North Cape May, eventually graduating from Cape May Tech before going on to Atlantic Cape Community College for a few years.
“Then I tried to be in the Army for a short period of time,” she says, laughing. “Tried.”
When you first meet Kristi, “Army” probably isn’t the first word that would come to mind, mostly because she’s relentlessly cheerful and full of smiles. However, you know what they say about first impressions: they’re usually wrong. Once we spoke for a little while, it’s obvious that Kristi should have been wildly successful in the Army; unfortunately, an unrecognized medical condition reared its ugly head, causing some shoulder pain and cutting her Army career too, too short.
“I was going through Basic Training and I loved it,” she says, “but it started to become obvious that something was going on. So, they sent me home, and I told my mom what happened. She said that they tried telling her about it when I was little, but we thought I just got hurt a lot. I was very aggressive.”
“It wasn’t a bad thing,” she rationalizes, “but I wish I would have been able to stay.”
Regardless, Kristi loved the short time she spent in the military.
“I got to go to Oklahoma and experience a whole different thing,” she says. “It was enjoyable. It was different. It was getting out of here for a while, meeting a whole group of new people — I didn’t know one person. I really did enjoy it.”
The silver lining is that she was able to come home to finish the last few classes for her degree, eventually becoming a phlebotomist. It didn’t take long for her to determine that drawing blood for the rest of her life wasn’t going to be fulfilling.
“I did that for a long time, at the hospital and at LabCorp,” she explains, “but while I did that, I also did part-time dispatching, because my brother and my dad are both full-time firemen. Well, dad’s retired now.”
“It’s a nice distance,” she laughs. “Drive an hour there, drive an hour back. We cover six station areas, but I only sit in Buena. I’ve been there for two years.”
In addition, Kristi is a “die-hard Flyers fan,” which came about because her mother used to work for the team.
“She actually got the job from Bobby Clark himself,” she says. “I just grew up around it and, even though my brother are very far apart in age, he’s someone I always looked up to. He loved it, and I loved what he loved.”
She says that hockey is one of the only sports that’s stayed the same since it began.
“Everything else, it’s like, ‘You can’t touch someone. You can’t look at someone. You can’t say anything, or you get fined or fouled’” she says. “But with hockey, if you have a problem, you fight it out and move on.”
Yeah. Kristi would have done just fine in the Army.
Kristi’s also a big country music fan.
She’s also very outdoorsy, loving fishing and boating.
“I’ll go fishing anywhere I can possibly find,” she says. “If I can get on a boat, I’ll do that, but I don’t have one. Me and a friend got into pulling up the maps on our phone and finding a lake and, if it’s not private property, going back to it and seeing what we’ve got, hoping we don’t get in trouble. I haven’t gotten in trouble yet.”
Kristi is also one of those wonderful people to have rescued a dog, Carver. (We love those people, too.)
“He’s a pit mix, who knows what,” she says. “He has ginormous ears, which is my favorite part of him and half the reason I got him. He’s a rescue, and I’ll have had him for two years this October.”
Even though she works the overnight shift at the barracks in Buena, Kristi loves the schedule — some weeks she has two days off, others she only works two days. She realized that, on those short weeks, she needed something to do to occupy her time.
“I’ve been working since I’ve been able to work and I’m used to having multiple jobs,” she says. “It’s very strange for me to have that great schedule — even though most people would love that — I don’t know what to do with myself.”
Since she’d always loved spending time here, she didn’t need to look as far as Buena when she began looking for an additional job.
“I’d always loved it here,” she says. “Everyone was always really friendly, and you kind of get to know people when they’re working there and you’re there all the time. But I always liked the atmosphere.
“And, obviously, our beer is my favorite.”
Kristi admits that she didn’t know a lot when she started, but she knew what she liked. Honestly, that’s what we look for in people: we love to find the diamond in the rough, the beer nerd that can teach us a thingertwo, but as long as you love beer and are willing to learn everything there is to learn, we love to have you aboard.
“There’s a lot to learn,” she says, “but that’s one more reason that I love the job. I’m good friends with Christine, and she’s worked at multiple breweries. She knows a lot, and I would bring her here when she came to visit. She began my education, but it’s still something I’m learning. Up till now, it was ‘if I liked it, I drank it’. But now I’m really learning what I like. And I like to understand what I’m drinking and why. I’m learning.”
She’s enjoying the chance to have face-to-face interaction with the folks who brew the beer.
“If I have a question, there’s usually a brewer around to ask,” she says. “It’s great to hear everything they know about it.”
Kristi’s been getting along with the rest of the Brew Crew, as well.
“The staff is amazing,” she says. “Everyone gets along, and it’s a lot of fun. It’s fun. Even though it’s work, it’s not stressful. It’s simple in a good way. Even when I work a twelve-hour day, I still like being here. I might be tired, but I can still sit here and have a beer.”
And she’s really enjoying mixing two of her new favorite beers: The Bog and Crushin’ It.
You won’t have much more time to give that a try! Regardless, stop into the Brewtique and get a few growler fills of both. When you do, be sure to say hello to Kristi!