Alumni Profile: The Barrister of Beer: Mark R. Fesche, J.D. ’02
In the deep darkness of a 2007 December morning in Anchorage, Alaska, a man with a law degree from the University of Baltimore found himself in a defunct brewery with only a crowbar, a hacksaw and a flashlight. Starting at 4 a.m. each day for five days, he dismantled the brewery equipment and prepared it for transport to a client, a brewing company back East. While it was back-breaking work, it was a labor of love, and just part of the job, for then-brewery consultant Mark R. Fesche, J.D. ’02.
Fesche became captivated by craft brewing after a trip to brewpub-rich Oregon and California shortly before graduating from Towson University in 1992. He says he remembers thinking during his final semester, “Man, when I graduate, I want to move to Oregon and work in a brewery.” So he did just that.
He packed up his Isuzu Trooper and drove to Bend, Ore., perfectly situated for snow-lover Fesche near Mt. Bachelor ski area and home to Deschutes Brewery, which at the time provided all brewery staff with a free ski pass. After pounding on the brewery’s door for six months, he was hired as a keg scrubber. When he left in 1996 to study brewing technology at Siebel Institute of Technology, Fesche had achieved the title of brewer for Deschutes and was producing award-winning beers.
In the late ’90s, Fesche enrolled in UB’s School of Law, hoping to work with firms that represented alcohol manufacturers. While waiting for his law career to launch, Fesche set up as a brewery consultant. After his first consulting job with Twin Lakes Brewing Co. in Delaware, where he designed and built a production brewery from the ground up, he realized a career in beer making was “way cooler than law,” he says. As a consultant, he specialized in building breweries, which involved finding used equipment to fit his clients’ specifications; hence, that cold December 2007 morning in Alaska.
This past November, Fesche landed in Fayetteville, N.C., putting his consulting company on hold to become the brewmaster at Huske Hardware House Brewing Co., where he has been hard at work creating new recipes for their beers and expanding distribution. Huske beers are in 30 North Carolina restaurants, and Fesche’s goal is to sell the brand as far north as Maryland.
Brewmaster may sound like a dream job, and the Barrister of Beer, so nicknamed by Huske owner Josh Collins, professes to loving every minute of what he calls “a tough, dirty, hard job.”