Brewing a Craft Marriage

Like a good ale, a good marriage is hard work. Both take commitment. Both take the right ingredients working together over time. Both provide a one-of-a-kind experience.

I have been married a long time and know that there are some days my spouse does not like me. She still loves me, of course, but we have to work things out. When you are in business together, that can often stretch a relationship.

Ale Treks took the time to interview a few of the many couples in our area who are in the craft beer business together. I believe their shared experiences may be helpful to other couples, as well as those working together in any business.

Jeremy Gobien and Kristen Kozik

Meet Jeremy Gobien and Kristen Kozik of Copper Kettle Brewing. They met through a dating service in 2007. After their first date, Kristen really wanted to know more about this shy, quiet man she met. He was interested in why she would be interested in him. Jeremy was working on his degree in material science engineering and she was a pediatric nurse. The two continued dating and on a trip to Germany, he proposed. Jeremy says that Kristen is like a Czech Pilsner with a hoppy bite at times and Kristen describes Jeremy as a Milk Stout: smooth and mellow.

Daryl and Jules Hoekstra

Daryl and Jules Hoekstra met while Jules was on a camping vacation with her family. Although she was still in high school, Daryl was captivated by this beautiful girl in a white bikini. They began a long distance relationship that flourished — not that easy in the pre-cell phone era! Daryl worked his way to becoming a chef while Jules graduated and studied occupational therapy. The two eventually made it official and have been married for 23 years. According to Jules, Daryl is like a good Pilsner, smooth and balanced, while Daryl describes Jules as a spicy IPA.

James and Sarah Howat

James and Sarah Howat are the owners of Black Project Wild & Spontaneous Ales. James was a science teacher for Adams County School District and Sarah worked as a behavioral specialist. They met at a nightclub after Sarah won a ‘rock, paper, scissors’ contest with a friend to determine who was going to talk to James. They found they had many things in common, especially their thirst for adventure. James said he knew early on that Sarah was the one and they married after dating for two years. Currently, they have been married for five years. James describes Sarah as a Complex Saison, fruity, herby and spicy. Sarah says that James is a Gueuze, a Belgian Lambic style that is complex with many layers.

These couples shared some of their secrets to a long-lasting relationship:

This was a big one with all three couples, each suggesting that partners learn to keep their communication lines open and genuine. Daryl and Jules advised not letting anger simmer or hold. Holding a grudge over something is just silly and destructive, Daryl said. Some challenges need to be dealt with right away and then let go, not letting it carry over to the next day. Sarah and James said sometimes you need to give a little time and space, but it’s best to take care of conflict as soon as you can. According to Kristen, communication is difficult in a professional relationship, especially when all there is to talk about is work. Being open and valuing each other’s contribution becomes key.

Find and make time for each other. Ask yourselves: Are you married to the business or to each other? Whether going to a festival, going on a date night, or just seeing a movie together, it is important to carve out that time in your schedules. Sarah says that they have learned to sometimes just go, even leaving for two weeks after the brewery was open for one year and James was the head and only brewer. Taking the time to get away helps knit a stronger relationship.

Clearly defined and respected roles in relationships and businesses help bring order to life. A friend once told me, “You won’t be king of your castle unless you treat your spouse like a queen.” I noticed that within each couple, there were clear functions of each individual that brought value to the relationship. Marriage is a union where each member is equally important to one other.

Love is a verb. Sometimes it is easy to get caught up in the feeling and passion of love but the real test of time is to act on the love that you have for each other. Sometimes it is little things like James making coffee for Sarah as he heads out early on the day and Sarah keeping James well fed. Simple sacrificial acts of service toward one another help say ‘I love you.’ Jeremy and Kristen verbally encourage and listen as a way to show love to each other. Kristen sometimes will bring Jeremy a gift of a warm cookie to surprise him. Gift giving is a great way to show you care. Each of us receive and communicate love in different ways, and it’s important to find what way says ‘I love you’ the most to our significant other.

‘Enjoying the experience’
Sarah and James both said enjoying the business was important. Through the craft industry they get to meet many different people. “Our customers are like family” Jules said. Sarah said she loves the idea of a place where people can go and feel safe, share and be known. That is a large part of the whole craft industry experience. When the work that is done alongside a spouse is enjoyed, it helps brew love in marriage.

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