The Master Brewers

Company founder JT Pollard said “Frog Alley Brewing is about having fun and making great craft brews even on Sundays. We are launching with two of the most respected brewers we could find and we are very excited to welcome them to our team”.

Rich Michaels

Rich Michaels started brewing beer commercially in the Capital District over 25 years ago. In 1992, he knocked on a on the door of Brown and Moran Brewing in with a six pack of home brewed beer and asked for a job. The beer was good enough to get him in the door as a brewer. Michaels then worked as a Brewmaster for two years at the Big House in Albany.

In 1997, he left to complete his education in Chicago at the Siebel Institute of Brewing. The Siebel Institute was founded in 1868, and is the oldest brewing school in the United States. While in Chicago, he met up with a few guys who were working to open a brewery in Grand Rapids, Michigan. After finishing his diploma, he went to work as Brewmaster at Founders Brewing Company. As the first employee, he was responsible for recipe development, brewing and packaging.

He left Founders in 2001 and moved south to brew beer at Walt Disney World for the Gordon Biersch Brewery Group. Later, Rich also owned and operated Dutch Ale House, a craft beer bar for three years. Most recently, Michaels worked for FX Matt Brewing Company as the quality and innovation manager. He was responsible for product development, brewing quality and process innovation.

Rich also teaches a brewing program at Schenectady County Community College, which focuses on educating students for successful employment in the craft brewing industry. The program provides brewing knowledge and hands-on training in commercial brewing practices.


Drew Schmidt

Drew Schmidt began his brewing career early on in the Craft Brewing revolution. In 1992 he started as an assistant brewer at Zip City Brewing Company, New York’s second brewpub. In 1993 he left Zip City to attend the Siebel Institute and graduated with a diploma in Brewing Technology.

Upon graduation, Drew moved to the Baltimore area and became the Head Brewer at the Oxford Brewing Company. During this time the brewery shifted its focus from traditional English style ales to American style beers and quickly expanded to Maryland’s largest microbrewery.

In 1996, Drew settled in Albany where he worked alongside Rich Michaels at the Big House Brewing Company. At the time, the Big House was the largest brewpub in the nation, producing 2,000 barrels of beer in a single location. Drew became known for his IPA at the Big House, and his raspberry wheat beer. After a brief hiatus, Drew returned to brewing as a Shift Supervisor at Olde Saratoga as well as the lead brewer at Mad Jack Brewing Company.

Most recently, you could find Mr. Schmidt at Shmaltz Brewing Company in Clifton Park where he acted as the Production Manager. Drew left Shmaltz in 2017 to focus all of his energy to the construction and planning of Frog Alley Brewing Company.