Mark Cook grew up in rural upstate New York (near Syracuse) which is where he developed a love for the outdoor activities including hunting, fishing, hiking, baseball, hockey, archery and–the now politically incorrect–fur trapping.
He attended The State College of Morrisville in Morrisville, NY and graduated in 1983 with an A.A.S. in Food Processing Technology.
The distilled version of his studies is that he learned what it takes to get food from the farm to the family and how to avoid problems related to processing and handling.
In 1987, he graduated from the Illinois College of Optometry with a doctorate in optometry and has been practicing optometry ever since. Part of his education to become an optometrist required him to take classes relating to food processing (microbiology, safe handling of food items, etc). This class helped him prep to be a great doctor, and now it’s helping him prep great beers!
In 1993, Mark founded the state of Wisconsin’s first full-time mobile eye care practice dedicated to providing care and services to residents of nursing homes.
He brought the same caring attention to details, ability to connect with people in an area that is very personal, and his medical precision to both fields. His passion for understanding time tested traditions in both the medical field and brewing sets the foundation for precision and accuracy in each brew.
However, with all his years of medical practice, he understands that sometimes the best, most effective solutions are seen from a different perspective. Thinking outside the box, being open to new ideas, and the willingness to cut the path to a new approach of achieving a desired result is what cutting edge doctors do. It’s also what makes him a cutting edge brewer.
“I can’t speak for Jim, but what I can say about myself is that I have been irreverent and defiant for as long as I can remember; always willing to push boundaries and limits regardless of the situation. I think this one aspect of brewing particularly appeals to me because professional brewers are expected to push limits and style boundaries, for good or for ill, sometimes it’s a ‘go big or go home’ attitude, walking that fine line.
Deep in my heart, I have always wanted to be an artist. Music was my first love but has always been forced to take a back seat for more “important” things. My school and work schedules were never conducive enough for me to be able to devote time to learn to play the guitar. Though I do know how to read music.
I’m grateful to have been able to find a new voice with brewing that allows me to express an artistic flair as well as applying science to it.”
Taking the time tested traditions and having the inner grit to ‘go against the grain’ and blend new flavors, tastes, and using non-traditional beer ingredients is why Bent Kettle Brewing is quickly becoming a household name in the craft beer industry.