Ally edit - this is the first entry to Scout Folks by Abby Oliva, who will be contributing people stories here. Hope you enjoy, and drop her a line if you have any interesting folks you’d like to know more about.
Getting to Know You
Brian White and I decided to meet at Provisions at the Orange Circle, a great place in Old Town to find and enjoy the craft brews for which you will gladly spend a bit (and sometimes, considerably) more. He walked in a few minutes after I arrived, we exchanged hugs and pleasantries, ordered our beers, and found a quiet table to sit and catch up.
After setting down his drink, he took off his jacket revealing a henley that held on to toned shoulder and chest muscles.
I asked, in my best pseudo-sleaze tone, “dude, have you been working out?”
“I have to, for work,” he answered with slight exasperation.
I paused for a moment, wondering why his employer would require that he work out (and how that could possibly be legal), when he read the look on my face and answered the unspoken question.
“This is what I do all day!” he said with a smile, pointing to his beer.
Best Job Ever
As the “Beer Evangelist” for Monkish Brewing Company in Torrance, California - Mr. White spends a fair amount of time in fellowship with craft beer enthusiasts and sharing the good (beer) news with hopeful converts. Suffice to say he drinks a fair amount of beer. With two other well-known SoCal brewers on his CV (Karl Strauss and The Bruery, respectively), he knows his stuff, and is the perfect guy to approach with your beer wants, needs, and queries. Monkish brews mostly Belgian-style ales, and is relatively new to the brewery scene, just celebrating their 2nd anniversary. I visited their little spot with Ally and her family, and we got to indulge in some of their best work.
Like any industry, the longer you stay in it, the smaller it gets, and the brewing world is no exception. I asked Brian how he was able to nurture existing relationships while being able to start others.
BW: You have to keep working on rebranding yourself, but it’s all about networking. You maintain contacts, you don’t burn bridges - you try not to, I’ve burnt some. You make mistakes and learn the hard way. A lot. Basically, it’s just about being a decent human being and just being kind, I think. And honest, not artificial. Being authentic with people. Especially in sales, there’s your typical salesman – and to them you’re just a number and they want to meet goals. I always hated that. Never wanted to be that or do that.
Watching him in motion at the Monkish tasting room, you can see that when it comes to this craft that his knowledge is outweighed only by his passion. During my visit I decided to order a tasting flight and let him take the reigns. I didn't know that Belgian beer had such a range, I was blown away.
When he isn’t delighting beer fans, Brian’s taking a stand for at-risk youth and working to provide hope. (No big deal, right?) In 2005 he began searching for a way to help stop human trafficking, a cause that’s gained a significant amount of momentum in the past few years.
BW: I don’t even remember how I got into it, the issue of human trafficking and modern-day slavery, but I caught onto it… I had this dream of starting an Orange County abolitionist group and I emailed the president of Free the Slaves (Kevin Bales), who wrote one of the books, Disposable People. ...And they invited me to come to San Francisco, so I went up there and met him and his right hand guys. And I think I was at a Thai restaurant and I just thought, “what am I doing here, I’m just some 22-year-old with nothing to give.”
In 2013, the opportunity to make an impact presented itself. A friend of his had read a post on Brian’s blog about human trafficking and the desire to be involved in a solution, and this friend just so happened to know the president of the SOLD Project. The SOLD Project is a nonprofit organization that works to prevent child prostitution by educating the at-risk youth in northern Thailand and providing scholarships and resources to break a cycle of poverty and exploitation. Brian was able to meet with the president of the organization and ended up traveling to Thailand with them for an eye-opening and life-changing experience.
BW: It’s a giant circle. Life always comes full circle even when you’re not aware.
AO: Right. Life, work, relationships, yourself; everything is cyclical.
BW: Except, hopefully, each time it comes out a little bit better.
When he returned to the States, he was brought on as a Southern California representative for them; if you want to learn more about the SOLD Project and need someone to come speak about it – he’s your Huckleberry.
Why We Love Him
Being a beer savvy humanitarian seems reason enough to like someone. The element that puts Brian on another level is his genuine compassion for all walks of life. Whether he is pouring a Seme Della Vita (quite possibly the best beer I have ever had, by the way) or striving to stop oppression – his heart and soul are in it, completely. There is nothing forced or fabricated in the way he interacts with his fellow man. He attributes this authenticity to being totally confident in anything he is offering and discovering a deeper acceptance during graduate school.
AO: You have your MA in Theology, how has that impacted the way you look at the world and interact with people?
BW: I learned to think of everything in context. The reality is that I could have been born somewhere else and I might be the same person and I could have the same passions – but I would be Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim. And you have to be haunted by that fact, that you could be completely different, and ask yourself, “am I just a product of where I am or am I able to think outside of culture?” And so I learned to appreciate everything and be more open and understanding of cultural differences and life experiences. And I’ve kind of gotten rid of an objective truth in a way. That maybe there is a truth that is somewhat objective, but there is only a subjective view of it. Humans are bound to language, culture, to all these things. So when you realize that, you become a kinder person and you don’t judge, because ultimately, what do you know? Just that you’re a person of faith and that faith is good.
This energy, open-mindedness, and organic love for mankind make him one-of-a-kind.
AO: What is one thing that you have learned that you would share with the world?
BW: It’s simple: Live a life of faith, hope, and love.
Follow his personal blog here http://bluecollarlove.blogspot.com/
all photos by Benjamin Squirrell.