Thor Cheston, Beer Director of Brasserie Beck and Mussel Bar
What started as a part-time job to earn cash through medical school evolved into the beginning of a career in the beer industry.Â In the final days of studying for the MCAT Exam after completing a two-year post graduate medical program, Thor Cheston confessed to his family that he didnâ€™t want to be a doctor.Â Instead, he wanted to follow his real passion, a passion for beer. The love for the beverage and the interest in the art of making it was discovered with the introduction from a friend of one particular Belgium beer, Delerium Tremens.Â It was a beer that showed him what beer could be and he was so impressed by it that he encouraged his boss at Pizzeria Paridiso to carry the beer.Â It became such a successful sell that Thor followed Belgian beer, and Pizzeria Paradiso followed Thor.Â The local pizzeria soon became the top seller of Chimay White Label on tap.
Thor was able to convince the owner of the pizzeria to turn a basement used for occasional overflow seating into a specialty beer bar.Â Thorâ€™s opening beer list consisted of 116 specialty beers, featuring primarily Belgian beers.Â Dubbed Birreria Paradiso, the beer bar sold over $800,000 in beer sales in its first year and has been rated by beeradvocate.com as one of the best beer bars in the world.
Thorâ€™s passion and dedication led him to Philadelphia to work for Michael Naessens, Knight of the Brewersâ€™ Mashstaff, to become the beer buyer for his restaurant Eulogy Belgian Tavern.Â Gaining experience as a beer buyer and becoming even more traversed in Belgian beer, Thor was later presented the opportunity to assist in the opening of a Belgian brasserie in Washington DC by renowned chef Robert Wiedmaier.Â Seeing the potential, Thor began as a bartender and in two years earned the position of General Manger and Beer Director.Â Brasserie Beck has 150 Belgian beers on the beer list that total 1.2 million in sales each year.Â It is considered by Washington Post one of the top beer bars in Washington, DC and the restaurant was voted one of the best new restaurants in America in 2007 by Esquire Magazine.Â Thorâ€™s energy and passion for Belgium and their brewing traditions continues to catch the spotlight of local media outlets.Â Faithful regular customers frequently seek Thorâ€™s advice in which Belgian beer will most complement their Belgian fare. Through an evolving beer list, training staff, and hosting beer dinners and events, Thor continues to educate and promote the brewing quality and techniques that are uniquely Belgium.
On September 4, 2009 Thor was given the honor of being inducted into the Knighthood of the Brewersâ€™ Mashstaff in Brussels, Belgium.Â The Knighthood of the Brewersâ€™ Mashstaff (Belgian Brewersâ€™ Guild) is an organization that is a direct descendent of the secular guild of Belgian brewers that works to perpetuate the traditions and nobility of the brewersâ€™ trade.