Brave New Packaging Crew

They put beer in bottles, then they bury free throws. This is the team that gets beer where it needs to go. This is the team that busts their butts on the bottling line. This is the Packing Crew.

Andrew Pitsch

If you’ve been on a brewery tour lately, you’ve surely noticed the fruits of Andrew Pitsch’s labor. As Assistant Packaging Manager, Andrew creates the cleaning schedule for the packaging crew and makes sure the entire operation is consistently spotless and organized. 

After several years working in kitchens, this Lincoln native knew what he needed in a job: physical labor, some creativity, and a crew that felt like family. He found it at Zipline, where he can indulge in his favorite things to work with. His goal is to ensure that no matter who walks through the brewery, even in the middle of operations, everyone can be proud to show off the work being done. “The way things look matter to how they operate,” he points out, so that when things look clean and stay organized, the crew’s efforts match those standards.

He finds an outlet for his creativity as a budding cask chef. Andrew applies his expertise in food and beverage pairings to occasional cask creations. He likens casks to frosting cakes in terms of picking the perfect flavor combinations.

Andrew’s dedication to the Zipline family is evident. Though there are ups and downs like any family, someone is always there to lift you up. “They’re awesome,” he says of his crew, expanding to say how much he appreciates that someone on the team can always cheer him up on a bad day. Andrew supports the team in turn. He stays late and comes in early to make everyone else’s job just a little easier, even lending a hand to the brewers when he can.

When not at work, Andrew spends times at home enjoying fatherhood. He and his wife, Jill, are head over heels for their infant son, Elliot Wesley, who is 3 months old. With a baby at home, Andrew finds it more motivating than ever to work with integrity and build a life to make Elliot proud.

Jacob Ehlers

Like all the folks at Zipline, Jacob Ehlers wears many hats. He works long hours during the week packaging beer, but you may know him best from his Sunday afternoons behind the bar. A native of North Platte, Jacob made his way to Lincoln in search of the good life with friends nearby.

Jacob most appreciates working with a small, solid group of people every day. As he noted, a maximum of 7 people touch a Zipline beer from brew to bottle, and knowing each of those folks is pretty cool. “It makes you feel more responsible for the product you put out,” he states. Seeing the owners almost daily confirms that he’s not the only one taking personal pride in good work. His co-workers can see his motivation clearly in his work ethic. Andrew says it’s contagious to see Jacob’s commitment.

When he’s not immersed in the physical labor of packaging beer, you can find Jacob immersed in the arts. He’ll listen to just about any style of music (except the latest country hits– give him Johnny Cash over Carrie Underwood any day), he’s a dedicated sci-fi/fantasy reader, and a mixed media artist. After studying Fine Art for several years, Jacob loves working with old magazine clippings, particularly ads from the 1950s and 60s. In his newly appointed garage studio, he explores the contrast between the nostalgia for mid-century media and reality, often highlighting the literal alien nature of such a romanticized era with space landscapes.

Ben Pahlke

His tall stature makes him stand out, but you’re least likely to have seen Ben, the final member of the packaging team, hanging out in the taproom. Along with the hours he puts in at Zipline, this South Dakota native also runs an app design business in partnership with his brother. Having long wished to work together and create things side-by-side, Ben and his brother love having the chance to do so as entrepreneurs.

Ben’s interests range far and wide. In addition to app design and craft beer, he’s always loved plants and the outdoors. After completing his degree in Biology at UNL, he realized that field wasn’t for him and turned to Zipline to pursue his fascination with breweries. His curiosity keeps him learning more and more about beer and the technology behind brewing and packaging.

Ben echoes his crewmates’ appreciation for each other. He enjoys working with a tight group of people who look out for one another and keep the long days from weighing too heavily. He knows Andrew and Jacob can always make him laugh, even as they push through the physical rigors of bottling and kegging. He also really appreciates seeing a small business grow from the inside. Watching as Zipline moves into new markets and continues to develop has given Ben plenty of entrepreneurial insight.

A committed basketball fan, Ben’s ranking as the top BREWS (better than HORSE, but with more packaging equipment in the way) player in the warehouse comes honestly. He played ball when he was young, until a surgery forced him out of the game. These days, he roots for Duke and continues to wipe the warehouse floor with his challengers.

What unites this trio is dedication and good humor. “They know their roles well and they get the job done,” says Packaging Manager Adam. He’s pleased with how the whole crew steps up to take care of any task set for them. The cooperation and team spirit is evident whenever this crew is working together. Andrew, Jacob, and Ben all acknowledge they’re stronger because each person looks out for the other.