Jerome Stontz is more than our Email Operations Manager–he’s also a certified brewer with his own line of beers. This jack-of-all-trades talks brewing, food, and how he invited a celebrity to his wedding.
How did you get into brewing?
I started as a homebrewer about 4 years ago. I did it for a little while, entered some competitions, got some good feedback... Shari (my fiancée) and I were supposed to move to Oregon, but it fell through. In a panic to find a place to live, we stopped at this burger joint, and were talking to the owner. We mentioned that I was a homebrewer, and she asked if she could have some samples of my beer. A few days later emailed me about brewing exclusively for their restaurant! Unfortunately, she wasn’t ready to invest in the equipment yet. So we went through a couple rounds of investors, and finally got funding to buy our first fermentation tank. We work with another brewery, where we pay them to use their equipment and space, but the tanks and barrels are ours. In 2016 we got our final state approval to brew and distribute. That’s what allowed us to start actually selling!
There’s a bulldog on your can!
It’s called Bold Dog Beer Co. In the 12-1300s, English bulldogs were known as “bold dogs.” I designed all our branding based on our old dog, Beefy. We’ve got two now named Charlie and Vinnie.
So clearly you’re a visionary in the beverage department, what about food?
I’m a pretty good baker actually, but what I’m best at making is ribeyes, or this recipe I stole from my mom: giant pasta shells filled with taco meat and topped with crushed tortilla chips and melted cheese. My claim to fame dessert treat is a pan with chocolate chip cookie, frosted (cream cheese + powdered sugar + peanut butter) and topped with crushed peanut butter cups and chocolate shell.
How did you end up at Den Aviary?
My background is traditionally in graphic design. Originally I wanted to be an animator - old school, Disney, hand-drawn cartoons. But my art teacher in high school nudged me into graphic design. I was good with computers–my 7th grade science project was building a computer from scratch. I took web design as an elective my senior year of college. I was mostly doing production design, but then I was offered a job in Naperville doing some website updates. Their email guy left and I volunteered to take his spot. From there, I was good at it, and every job since then has been email development. I was on Oracle’s team for awhile, and then I came here!
If you could have the email address of any famous person, who would it be?
Trey Parker and Matt Stone.
What would you email them about?
I’d ask if I could hang out with them.
Anything else we should know about you?
My hometown, Kewanee, was formerly know as the “Hog Capital Of The World.”
I’ve been into music for a long time - I play guitar (electric & bass), I have two drum kits (live & electronic)... I always loved to draw, and still draw when I can. Soon, Shari and I are going to Europe - Dublin, Brussels, Brughes, Munich, etc. We’re going to check out so many breweries!
List your pocket contents:
Cell phone, brewery keys, building badge, wallet
Guilty pleasure song:
Barry White “Never Give You Up” or Tom Jones “She’s A Lady”
Words to live by:
WWAWKD - What Would Andrew W.K. Do? (He would party.) If i’m in a bad mood, I will turn on “Party Hard” and it puts me in a better mood. I invited him to our wedding since he’ll be in town playing Riot Fest that weekend. I’m not sure if he’ll come but that would be awesome. We sent him a Save-the-date.
GIF: how do you say it?
It is GIF. Brent and I have kind of gotten into an argument about this. It’s not “jraphics”