For Griffin Volner, working at Heavy Riff Brewing Co. hasn’t just been a lesson in craft beer – it’s also taught him about responsibility. “It’s given me perspective on life as I get older – planning for the future, decision-making,” Volner says. “It’s made me a better person overall, I would say. It’s something I appreciate a lot.”
Volner didn’t always know he was going to end up in the beer industry. He got a business degree from Saint Louis University and was planning on going to law school when he realized it wasn’t his passion. “I was filling out applications one night, and I was like, ‘What am I doing? I don’t want to do this,’” Volner says. “So then I got a job over [at] the coffee shop.”
The coffee shop in question was Sweet EM’s Coffee & Ice Cream, which sits just down the street from Heavy Riff. Volner eventually became the manager there, and then decided to dip his toe into the world of craft beer at Heavy Riff by starting out as a bartender. After a year and a half of learning the ropes, Volner worked his way up to taproom manager. Making sure the workplace is enjoyable for his employees is a top priority for him. “It’s a great balance between work not being a social club, but also liking everyone you work with,” Volner says. “It just makes you want to do your job well, which is something that I truly believe in as a manager.”
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Here, Volner talks the downsides of avocados, where to get a great whiskey drink and becoming a regular.
What’s the best thing you’ve ordered at a local bar or restaurant recently? If you want me to be honest, a shot of rail whiskey and a beer, anywhere. If you want me to be legit, Planter’s House. They have phenomenal craft cocktails and Whiskey Business, the one that I had, is just absolutely delicious. It’s some kind of take on an Old Fashioned. I’d recommend going to Planter’s; they have a great cheese plate, great patio.
What’s the best style of pizza? The best pizza in St. Louis is Pizza-A-Go-Go, in my opinion. It’s thin; I guess New York-style. It’s just got a great mouthfeel. Simple, doesn’t fill you up too much, and it’s just greasy enough.
What’s your favorite food memory? I would say that this is not specific to any restaurant, but it’s becoming a familiar enough patron with that restaurant to where the people inside know what you’re gonna get as soon as you walk in the door, and maybe even have it ready for you.
What ingredients do you think everyone should keep at home and why? I’m gonna say fruit because it’s way cheaper to buy fruit and then eat it at your house than it is to buy fresh fruit out all the time. And I definitely like fruit. And then water. Tap water, purified water. Hydration is key.
What’s your most controversial food opinion? I don’t like avocados. I only like avocados in guacamole. A lot of people love avocados. I just thought they were too slimy when I was a kid. It’s stuck ever since.