Ray Daniels's Beer Prescription

A former PR rep leaves Big Pharma to oversee the high art of brewing
Ray Daniels, 54, one of the leading American authorities on beer, is the author of "Designing Great Beers" and a longtime judge at prestigious craft festivals Photograph by Daniel Shea for Bloomberg Businessweek

As a product manager at Abbott Laboratories, a developer of drugs and medical devices, Ray Daniels translated lab-speak into sales pitches aimed at blood banks and hospitals. Then, in 1990, he launched his own Chicago-based public-relations firm for health-care companies, a move that freed him up for something he was infinitely more passionate about: home brewing. After winning a series of prestigious competitions with his concoctions, he quit the fallback gig to start a brewery. “It’s a little too simple to say I like beer,” says Daniels, who studied biochemistry before earning a Harvard MBA. “I always viewed business as a creative outlet. I chucked everything to work on something I love.” The brewery never took off, but it wasn’t time wasted. Daniels spent more than a decade perfecting his craft, publishing books on brewing, and developing his own methods for testing the quality of beer—the basis for his Cicerone Certification Program for beer sommeliers.

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