Van Havig is the Gigantic Brewing Company Master Brewer. His early influences include any movie with giant monsters and robots, and every car he’s ever seen. This led to his childhood collection of toy cars and Japanese robot action figures (back when they were good and their hands could shoot off and choke small children). None of these toys survive because Van tore them all apart to see how they work – an action that set him on a lifelong passion for things mechanical.
As he entered his teen years, punk rock grabbed him by the throat and forced its way into his soul, connecting strongly with his lifelong problem with authority. Attending Reed College didn’t exactly mitigate this ongoing problem, as is evidenced by his dropping out of a Ph.D. program in economics at the University of Minnesota because he began to question the very underpinnings of economics as a social science. At least the year he spent at the London School of Economics wasn’t a waste, since it introduced him the glory of the British pub and cask conditioned beer.
In 1995 Van became a professional brewer, first at Minnesota Brewing Company (a regional brewery in St. Paul), and then at the Rock Bottom Breweries in Minneapolis, MN, Bethesda, MD and Portland, OR. A 16 year career with Rock Bottom ended when Van couldn’t keep his mouth shut about some changes being made at the company with which he didn’t quite agree. It was all for the best though, since that led Van on the path to starting Gigantic with Ben Love.
As a brewer, Van continues to question convention in terms of beer style, brewing methods and brewer dogma, among other things. His favorite thing to say about brewing is “just because you had an idea, doesn’t make it a good one.”
He is married, has two Australian Shepherds, daily drives a 1981 BMW 528i, Sunday drives a 1971 Alfa Romeo Giulia 1300 Super, occasionally rides an Independent Fabrication Club Racer, and his current race car is a 1991 Mazda Miata.