802 BWS is a beverage, wine and spirits store located on North Avenue in Burlington. Formerly the Merola’s Market, the 802 BWS store relocated less than a mile down the road in the Ethan Allen Shopping Center. They are located between Aaron’s and Snap Fitness. The 802 BWS store is also a Vermont State Liquor outlet, carrying over 1200 wines, a wide variety of spirits, an impressive craft beer selection as well as a 12 tap growler station. Their growler station typically has eight or nine Vermont craft brews on at all times and they fill 32oz. & 64oz. growlers. They also offer “featured tastings” a few times a month, where a representative from a specific sponsor comes in and offers free samples of their products. Need a keg filled? They can do that too!

The 802 BWS store carries some of our top Vermont brands such as Otter Creek, Switchback, Wolaver’s, Woodchuck Cider, Boyden Valley and Magic Hat. We thought we’d take the opportunity to highlight the unique Vermont store, and interview their Growler Supervisor Cian McGuire. Our first encounter with Cian was on Twitter. We often noticed That802BeerGuyretweeting and favoriting our posts. We were thrilled to know that we had such a dedicated fan following us, and sharing his passion for craft beer and the industry. From this, we thought it would be fun to meet Cian and ask him a few questions about himself, his job, how he got into the craft beer scene and also because he seemed like an interesting guy.

We met with Cian earlier this week and decided that the taproom at Switchback Brewery would be the perfect place to meet and enjoy a few pints while we chatted. It was a dreary Monday afternoon, so sitting indoors and sipping on delicious craft beer was the perfect setting for a casual interview. We sampled a few beers, then ordered our beverage of choice and got down to business. Here is our Q & A of that conversation:

Baker: When did you end up in Vermont?

Cian: The tail-end of 2010. It’ll be five years in December.

Baker: Can you tell me a little bit more about yourself?

Cian: I’m a 33 year old artist/sculptor/photographer/musician/jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none who’s worked a long and varied selection of jobs in my 17 years in the workforce mostly concentrating in sales and customer service. I have at various times slung cheesesteaks, wings, and deli meats; worked retail in a department store, a Deck the Walls, a Verizon Wireless, and an American Eagle; QC’d at a rolled metals producer; worked for a direct mailer; oversaw the weekend produce section of a local, organic foods market; and currently am Growler Supervisor at 802 BWS, bartending at La Boca Pizzeria, and as of (hopefully) this weekend working sales with Four Quarters Brewing. It’s been a long and varied employment history during which I’ve been grateful to learn the ins-and-outs of an endless series of disciplines.

Baker: You mentioned you got into the craft beer industry by accident. Can you expand on that?

Cian: My love for a good beer was something that blossomed during my explorations of the burgeoning mid-aughts craft beer scene. Growing up in Philadelphia my first exposure to brews were Yuengling and Guinness – that quickly branched out to the likes of Magic Hat, Victory, Stoudt’s, and Lionshead, along with a heavy compliment of great, established European breweries like Franziskaner and Weihenstephaner. I came to learn to appreciate an enormous variety of beers; even today, a brew has to work very hard for me to not find some aspect of it that I can enjoy. However, it had never been a deliberate cultivation of a palate or experience to further my professional goals. So, in that manner, I have come to call this career trajectory “accidental”.

Baker: How long have you worked at 802 BWS?

Cian: I have worked at 802 BWS since March of last year when the 10,000 square foot beer, liquor, and wine superstore was still the slightly smaller Merola’s Market.

Baker: Were you involved with setting up the growler program at 802 bws?

Cian: I wasn’t involved in the initial formulation of the growler program – the owner of 802 BWS, Jason Beaudoin, originally had the idea. I have, however, been instrumental in overseeing the day-to-day maintenance and week-to-week cultivation of product, and I proudly believe a big driver of our early success has been my establishing a rapport with our customer base.

Baker: How often do you hold tasting events at 802 BWS?

Cian: A few times a month – we’re looking at expanding the tasting program this summer for our anticipated larger customer base.

Baker: What are some upcoming tastings that are happening?

Cian: We are featuring a Smugglers Notch tasting this Saturday, May 23rd at 4pm. We also have Two Roads Brewing Company from Stratford, CT, scheduled for Friday, June 5th.

Baker: How have you seen the craft beer industry change over the years?

Cian: Oh man, I could discuss this particular question for hours, but I’ll keep it short and say that the evolution of the sophistication of both product and consumer has been the biggest driver for change. One could – even as recently as a few years ago – make a decent, if not overly profitable, living making mediocre beer that those inclined to enjoy would see favorably and continually return to. I think at this state of maturation of this still-nascent industry that such a thing is not really possible anymore – which is of the biggest benefit to those devotees of craft, both new and old.

Baker: You mentioned to us that you are interested in making a film about Vermont Pub & Brewery’s legendary owner Greg Noonan. Can you tell us more about that?

Cian: Mr. Noonan has done so much for the furtherance of this industry and altered my own personal trajectory in this field that I feel compelled to try to give something back. Every person who interacted with Greg has a plethora of stories to tell about him, his personality, and his generosity of spirit. This coupled with the significance of his actions in the craft scene cements his legacy. I wish to celebrate that.

Baker: What is the one thing you like most about working in the craft beer industry?

Cian: Getting to share my love and experience with a diverse crowd of consumers. Their experiences further color my knowledge base and their receptiveness to me and my suggestions is gratifying and rewarding in a manner I’ve not experienced elsewhere in my life.

We want to thank Cian for taking the time to meet with us to talk shop about the 802 bws, himself and the craft beer industry. We look forward to possibly partnering with 802 BWS in the future, so stay tuned!

Have you had the chance to visit 802 BWS? Share your experiences with us!

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