Alumnus Doug John '82, '89 MAd: Apocalypse Ale Works
When Doug John ’82, M.Ad. ’89 was an undergrad chemistry and biology double-major, he was known in his social circles as the kid who didn’t drink.
Instead, Doug focused on being a conscientious student with a goal of financial independence. He fondly remembers his favorite class, “Systematic Identification of Organic Compounds,” taught by Sam Gamble; Doug was the sole student brave enough to sign up. “I was given a mysterious substance weekly and my task was to figure out what was in it,” he explains, laughing.
The knowledge garnered from these lessons comes in handy these days. Doug and his wife, Lee Short, own and operate “Apocalypse Ale Works,” the first microbrewery in Bedford County, Virginia. Doug explains that the name of the new business, is perfectly symbolic: “I had to make it through the fire to start this wonderful new beginning.”
They also own and operate Pints O’ Plenty, a gourmet shop which features beer- and wine-making kits. They offer hundreds of selected craft beers and wine.
Doug enjoys the challenge of manipulating chemical formulations to tweak flavors and consistency to create his own custom brews. Each beer-making kit sold comes with three hours of instruction.
“It’s easy to make great beer, and it’s easy to make bad beer,” he said. “I make sure my students only make great beer!”
The best part of his job, he says, is the interaction with his customers, and his goal is “to make the best beer in the world.” He is well on his way.
Doug started brewing as a hobby in 1990, and founded Pints o’ Plenty in a small booth at Peddler Antiques in Forest in 1995. The shop moved to its current location in 2011, and his meticulous concoctions continue to receive widespread recognition. So far, he has captured two national beer-making championships. In 1999, he took the national gold medal for his Strong Scottish Ale, and in 2010, his Belgian Dubbel took the prize. This honor came with the rare opportunity to brew 3,100 gallons of the prized ale at the Clipper City Brewery. Belgian Dubbel grades 87 out of 100 in beeradvocate.com and was released for sale in nineteen states.
His current career had an unlikely start. After college, Doug worked as a microbiologist for Westover Dairy and then as an assistant research and development chemist for C.B. Fleet. Following those stints was a twenty-year career in the textile industry as a technical service manager setting up facilities in Mexico and China for Burlington Industries and Lee’s Carpets, working punishing shifts and 80-hour weeks. The grueling schedule began to take its toll, and Doug and Lee made the decision together to pursue their entrepreneurial dream. Doug smiles and says that this was the best decision they ever made.
Doug and Lee’s son, Austin John ’13, is an economics major at LC, and their daughter, Ashlyn, attends Liberty University.