Our team

our people. our strength.

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Founder • Brewer • Educator • Certified Cicerone® • BJCP Certified Beer Judge

Chris Kesler

Head of Brewing Operations • Certified Cicerone®

Dan Sartwell

Brewer • Head of Barrel Program • Beer Curriculum • Certified Cicerone®

Drew Cunningham

Quality Control • Beer Curriculum • BJCP Certified Beer Judge • Certified Cicerone®

Rob Friesel

Director of Restaurant Operations

David Nyhan

Spirit Master

Dave Mosher

Head Distiller & Maintenance Lead

Travis Johnson

Executive Chef

Christian Kruse

Pastry / Sous Chef

Amanda Greear

Director of Accounting

Deb Kesler

Catering & Event Coordinator

Jen Wyman

Front of House Supervisor

Michael Lattanzio

Partner, Facility Owner

Peter Edelmann

Founder • Brewer • Educator • Certified Cicerone® • BJCP Certified Beer Judge

Chris Kesler

Chris has a business degree from University of Vermont with a concentration in Management Information Systems. In the first decade of his career, he rose quickly from programming jobs, into team leadership, then management positions eventually in charge of hiring and managing 4 departments for an IBM vendor company in Essex Junction. Finally succumbing to his natural entrepreneurial instincts, he founded a web design, development and marketing company (Earthlogic, Inc. in May of 1998). 15 years later, he founded a second company (Logic Properties, LLC) and purchased an old Church building in Essex Junction. After renovating the building, he began using it as a base of operations for Earthlogic, brought on a local co-working space (Excelerate Essex), and most important – began his home brewing career in the basement.

Fast forward to 2017, Chris was top 2 in the state-wide Make the Cut competition. Many home brewing awards later, he was named Vermont Homebrewer of the year in 2018 and followed up with back to back wins (along with Justin Rito) in 2019. 2017 also put Chris on the path to aggressive beer education – he hosted a year long BJCP study group and a 9 month Cicerone® study group with both ending in successful certifications. Chris is currently only one of two people in Vermont that is both a Certified Cicerone® and a Certified BJCP beer judge (Amy Todd from Zymology Labs being the other). He is hosting another round of each hoping to advance to the next levels (Advanced Cicerone® and National BJCP Beer Judge). In 2018, Chris also earned a certificate in the business of Craft Beer at UVM.

Chris is the founding partner of Black Flannel Brewing Co. and one of 4 founding partners of Black Flannel Distilling Co. He looks forward to bringing a unique experience to local & state residents, and travelers looking to experience the best Vermont has to offer.

Head of Brewing Operations • Certified Cicerone®

Dan Sartwell

Dan began his pro brewing career as assistant brewer in 2011 at the historic Shed Brewery in Stowe, Vermont. He also worked a short time at Rock Art Brewery and the original Trapp Family Lodge brewery as a cellarman and brewer. Most recently, Dan was the Brewmaster at 14th Star Brewery and Taproom where, with his amazing team, he was able to grow 14th Star from a “garage operation” to a large regional production brewery.

When Dan isn’t brewing beer, he enjoys spending time with his family of 4 in northern Vermont. Dan enjoys hiking through the woods of Vermont foraging for wild edibles, fishing, and pondering the secrets of the universe.

Dan is excited to collaborate with the entire Black Flannel team to create world class brews for all of our loyal patrons. Black Flannel Brewing is the essence of craft, quality, education, community, and sustainability. Every step of the process will be highly scrutinized by all of these tenets so that when you receive a glass of beer from one of our highly trained beertenders, the overall experience will be unmatched.

Brewer • Head of Barrel Program • Beer Curriculum • Certified Cicerone®

Drew Cunningham

Drew grew up in Northern California and started homebrewing as a hobby at the age of 19, and it didn’t take long for him to pursue this passion professionally. In 2015 he started packaging for Ballast Point Brewing in San Diego, followed by brewing role for White Labs where he spearheaded an internal education workshop for employees. He completed a brewing internship in the Czech Republic before moving on to Border X Brewing Company that led to a James Beard Award nomination in the category of Wine, Spirits, or Beer. After some short brewery consulting roles, he has found his new home at Black Flannel Brewing Co.  In his off time he enjoys writing, petting dogs, playing music, backpacking, making dad jokes, and disc golfing.

Quality Control • Beer Curriculum • BJCP Certified Beer Judge • Certified Cicerone®

Rob Friesel

Rob is a DC-area native transplanted to Vermont in 2002. A long-time craft beer aficionado, he began home brewing in 2014. Instantly hooked, Rob brewed over a hundred batches as an amateur, building sophistication and skill with each recipe. The results are award-winning beers across a diverse array of styles. A member of the Green Mountain Mashers, he has written several articles for Brew Your Own magazine. A passionate craftsman, Rob credits his awards to a relentless focus on continuous improvement. In the pursuit of the highest quality, Rob sought out ways to develop the skills critical to critiquing beer. In 2016, he attended the day-long seminar “Evaluating Your Homebrew Like a Master Judge” which was taught by Gordon Strong, the BJCP’s highest-ranked Grand Master Judge. Rob spent the next year and a half studying everything about beer tasting and evaluation. By the end of 2018 he held a Certified Beer Judge rank in the BJCP. In 2019, Rob came within one medal point of tying Chris Kesler & Justin Rito for Vermont Homebrewer of the Year, but did manage a three-peat for Vermont Mead Maker of the Year (2017, 2018, & 2019). Now in 2022, Rob managed to crush the Certified Cicerone® exam to become the 17th Certified Cicerone® in Vermont. When Rob is not sniffing beers, you can find him tinkering with software (his day job), exploring the glorious outdoors of Vermont, or planning his next travel adventure.

Director of Restaurant Operations

David Nyhan

David Grew up in West Cork, Ireland, and has been a resident of Essex Junction for the past 6 years. At a young age, David started his first hospitality job at a local sports club. During his time studying Mechanical Engineering in Galway, David found his passion for the industry while working at the Quays Bar in the Latin Quarter. During this time David was recruited by Ri Ra Irish Pub and moved to Vermont. David moved around the U.S. with RiRa Irish Pub Company and successfully opened multiple locations. Ten years later David returned to the Green Mountain State and his love for Craft Beer has grown ever since. On his time off David can be seen spending time with his family (including black lab Theo) doing some DIY or just enjoying great VT beers!

Spirit Master

Dave Mosher

Dave has been a Ski Industry professional for most of his career but his true passion is in craft distilling. After 20 years of home brewing, Dave developed an interest in distilling and his true education began around 2013 when he spent all of his free time working to educate himself in the process of starting a distillery. This involved countless road trips to visit distilleries, ask questions, and create alliances.

In his travels, he landed an apprenticeship at SILO Distillery in, Windsor, VT, for the summer of 2014 and worked alongside their Master Distiller, Ray Parker. He picked up a part-time summer weekend job as a Farmers Market Sales rep for Lake George Distilling Co. in Fort Ann, NY. Around this time, he met Duncan Holaday, owner and founder of Dunc’s Mill Distillery in, Barnet, VT – Vermont’s first distillery post-prohibition. After a work session & tasting, Duncan encouraged Dave to pursue a career in distilling.

A couple years later Dave enrolled in Duncan’s week-long distilling course through VTC called Craft Distilling As a Profession – The Vermont Experience. By the time the course was over, Duncan asked Dave to run his distillery with him for the summer. Then when Duncan decided he wanted to retire from the VTC Course, he asked Dave to take over. Dave has been running the course since 2018.

Through his distillery associations, Dave had a chance to develop a unique skill producing pilot batches from vegetables, fruits, roots and botanicals. As a founder of Black Flannel Distilling Co., Dave has the opportunity to bring his distinctive and unique brandies, whiskeys, and specialty spirits to the market. Educating folks in the art and science of distillation is a large part of his vision. It’s fun to share the passion!

Head Distiller & Maintenance Lead

Travis Johnson

Travis is the Head Distiller and jack of all trades at Black Flannel Distilling Co. Born in the small town of Robbinston, Maine, he grew up with a passion for building and creating things. Since moving to Milton, Vermont in 2011, projects have included: woodworking (where he has constructed a home bar, a coffee table from a used whiskey barrel, and an apple cider press), metalworking, cheesemaking, smoking foods, gardening, and most importantly, home brewing.

Travis became a member of the Green Mountain Mashers Home brew Club shortly after moving to Vermont, where he met Chris, Dave and Peter, and where Black Flannel Distilling Co. was conceptualized. Travis has split his time over the last 9 years between being a marine engineer on a ship (in the Bering Sea off Alaska) and his home in Vermont with his wife Abbie and their two dogs.

At Black Flannel Distilling Co, Travis is most excited about educating visitors about the ins and outs of distilling, and of course creating world class spirits. If you miss him at the tasting room, you might find him on his boat enjoying Lake Champlain, in the woods of Vermont, or at the local disc golf course looking for an aberrantly thrown disc in the bushes.

Executive Chef

Christian Kruse

Chef Christian Kruse was born and raised near Essex Vermont.  He is a graduate of NECI and is the former Executive Chef at Basin Harbor Club. He owned Vergennes Laundry – a world class, wood-fired bakery and restaurant that served brunch and dinner featuring the finest local ingredients and flavors. Among his other accolades, Chef Christian was 2016 Vermont Chef of the Year and was honored by an invitation to cook at the James Beard House in NYC. He brings a unique sense of vision, creativity, and style to the culinary world. His unique ethnic backgrounds (Filipino, Danish and French-Canadian) all serve to inspire his approach and passion for the diverse food he creates. Chef Christian has a traditional background with food and wine pairing and is excited to start a new chapter of his career in collaboration with our staff of 4 Certified Cicerone’s to incorporate interesting, unique and diverse food and beer pairings to our menu.

Pastry / Sous Chef

Amanda Greear

Originally from Georgia (the state not the town), Amanda taught herself cake decorating and it soon became a passion. She has been decorating cakes for over 15 years. This led her to pursue her life’s passion – to become a professional pastry chef. She graduated from Culinard (a southern Culinary Institute) with a degree in pastry arts. In 2014, Amanda relocated to Vermont for an internship at Basin Harbor Club where she first worked with Executive Chef Christian Kruse. She fell in love with Vermont and, after 4 years of traveling seasonally between the south and Vermont, she decided to make the move permanent. In her free time, she loves spending time with her fiancé Kyle, her cat, making wedding cakes, reading, kayaking, hiking, camping, and traveling. Oh and she loves winter, snow, and holidays!

Director of Accounting

Deb Kesler

Deb is our Director of Accounting, who on a daily basis performs the bookkeeping & accounting functions for both Black Flannel Brewing and Black Flannel Distilling. Deb is the keeper of clear heads and sanity checks. She also doubles as our Human Resource administrator helping to organize on-boarding, employee benefits, handbook, and many other day to day office activities.

For the last 30 years, Deb has been responsible for varying functions and roles in accounting for many industries including trash & recycling, marketing & design, manufacturing, health & fitness, property management, and is now excited to take on an entirely new challenge in the craft beer, craft spirits, scratch food and hospitality industry.

Black Flannel prides itself on assembling a team of highly talented people in their respective crafts and professions. Deb brings a level of professionalism and applies bookkeeping and accounting principles as her own “craft” on a daily basis.

Catering & Event Coordinator

Jen Wyman

Jen grew up in Southern Vermont in the woods learning to garden, weave, bake and other such home grown crafts. It became evident quickly that hospitality was her calling, making and serving meals on a regular basis to friends and family. Party planning was always a favorite pastime. After years in the resort business, she “retired” and took up consulting in marketing and social media. Being passionate about food & beverage made joining Black Flannel a natural partnership. Being passionate about parties makes event planning at Black Flannel a natural fit! When not planning things, Jen loves to travel, bake and be a soccer mom.

Front of House Supervisor

Michael Lattanzio

Born an East-Coaster, Michael migrated to Missoula, Montana in 2005 to attend the University of Montana where he pursued a degree in Environmental Studies. Living amongst the elk and bears in the lands of the evergreens, he spent most of his time fly fishing, snowboarding, whitewater rafting, and of course drinking local beers at all the amazing Missoula breweries. Michael began his professional career in hospitality at Montgomery Distillery as bartender, Events Manager, Sales Manager, Bottling Manager, Distillery Tour Manager, and other operations. With a strong passion for beer  he joined GILD Brewing – a brewpub with Mexican-inspired food & a vintage arcade. During the pandemic he came back east to rejoin his family. He joined Black Flannel in the Spring of 2021 as front of house supervisor. Michael has strong knowledge of beer, spirits, cocktails, and the hospitality industry. His passion makes him a valuable asset to the Black Flannel community. 

Partner, Facility Owner

Peter Edelmann

Peter is a serial entrepreneur with 30 years in leasing, financing, and developing retail centers across the country. Peter has owned the Essex Experience (formerly Essex Outlets) since 1993 and owns the Essex Cinema and the Essex Resort and Spa. Peter began his career at the Old Vail Ranch in Southern California where he developed 550 homes plus 80 acres of commercial properties. He has developed and re-developed commercial projects around the country including 230,000-square-foot Essex Experience in Vermont, Las Americas – 650,000sf Class A Outlet Center in San Diego CA, acquisition and sale of the Secaucus Designer Center, Development projects in Columbia, SC & Plattsburgh NY. Peter is a partner of both Black Flannel Brewing Co. and Black Flannel Distilling Co.

When not spending time with his wife and partner Jessica and his younger children Katarina and Janosh, he can also be found on the tennis courts, or in the water, skiing, surfing, kayaking, rowing, sailing or under water waiting for the next alien encounter at Buff Ledge.