Chris Verderame is our newest Sales Representative covering South Jersey.
“He has a tremendous amount of craft sales experience,” says Director of Sales Bill Zaninelli. “He’s built a lot of relationships throughout South Jersey and has a great attitude and a positive outlook. It doesn’t hurt that he loves good music, including Neil Young, who’s a personal favorite of mine.”
Originally from West Berlin — New Jersey, not Germany — Chris Verderame (“verde is green and rame is branch”) attended Overbrook High School before moving on to William Patterson University in Wayne, NJ, for Communications.
“I interned in New York City at KROCK, 92.3,” he says. “I used to work for the old Atlantic City minor league baseball team, The Surf. I was an unpaid intern, so I lived in the stadium for the summer.”
Traveling back and forth between Berlin, gas and tolls would have been a killer for him, so he convinced the GM to let him live in one of the suites, shower in the locker room, and do his laundry with the uniforms.
“He’d just hand me the keys after every home game,” he laughs. “It was a great summer.”
For several years after that, he’d worked for competing distributors and breweries, building up his relationships with retailers in the area. He’s currently covering South Jersey for us — Cumberland, Salem, Gloucester, and most of Atlantic Counties — with a positive attitude and a mustache to rival that of our very own award-winning Distribution Manager Justin Vitti.
In his spare time, Chris climbs mountains. And we’re not talking a leisurely hike up to High Point, we’re talking moun-tains. With, like, peaks and sheer rock faces and all manner of death-defying derring-do involved.
He’s summited Mt. Elbert, the highest peak in the Rockies, at 14,440 feet, meeting a buddy in Denver for an all-day climb dodging bears and mountain lions that nearly resulted in a serious accident.
“It was awesome,” he says with a level of excitement that we can’t even fathom when confronted with our mortality. “I packed Uncrustables, and, in the two weeks that my buddy drove out, the jelly fermented. So, I get to the top of this mountain, and I’m dying from elevation sickness, and I’m excited to finally eat my peanut butter and jelly, but the jelly had fermented into wine. So, now I’m drunk on the top of this mountain.”
Definitely — definitely — not a good thing.
“I was a little delirious hiking down.”
Regardless, Chris seems particularly undeterred by the idea of passing out from lack of oxygen atop a treacherous mountain trail. He’s in the process of climbing the highest 46 peaks in the Adirondacks, having already summitted 37 of them.
“It’s fun,” he says. “I was just there a couple of weeks ago. On the last trip, my water pump broke, so I had to boil water and I ran out of gas. We were really close to running out of water.”
After having nearly died on a mountain several times, you’d think that Chris would be close to hanging up his climbing shoes, but he’s showing no signs of slowing down.
“But Everest is too cold for me,” he says. “I climb in the warm months.”
Regardless, Chris really enjoys the outdoors, getting into nature by hiking and kayaking being among his favorite things to do.
“Getting away from traffic and cell phones,” he laughs. “Being in the wilderness is definitely my happy place.”
Chris has homebrewed in the past, but, like most hobbies as you become an adult, his enthusiasm has waned in recent years, probably because he’s too busy climbing mountains.
“I just got back into it,” he says. “I did an IPA in February — dry-hopped. First time I ever dry-hopped a beer. It came out pretty good, but I should have used more bittering hops. Tons of aroma, but it kind of died.”
Chris is a big fan of all of the Philly sports teams, and he’s an eleven-year Eagles season ticket holder, having traveled to Kansas City and “the original Giants Stadium” to see them play.
“I was at the 2008 World Series, when the Phillies won,” he says. “That was a great experience.”
He’s an even bigger music fan than he is a sports fan, going to “tons of shows” each year.
“I go to a few a month,” he says “I like everything: punk rock, jam bands, classic rock. Any kind of rock, I’m into.”
Chris was able to attend his first Phish show over the summer, catching the Sunday show of their epic three-night run in Camden this year.
“I got into them by being a huge Dead fan,” he says. “I went to the Misfits’ first show when they got back together last May. I just saw King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard. That was an awesome show. First time I was in a mosh pit in about ten years.”
And Chris is no stranger to Cape May. With family in Wildwood Crest, he’s been coming down here since he was a kid.
“Cape May, Wildwood,” he says. “The beaches are great.”
When he was looking to move on from his last job, Cape Beverage seemed like a great fit.
“Evan’s a really good friend of mine,” he says, “and he was telling me how great the culture is. The branding on the beer really captured me. It’s amazing. Every time I was in a store, it would just pop. It sounded like I was coming to a winning team and I wanted to be a part of it. It sounded like I could really be a strong force in South Jersey.”
He’s looking forward to his time here.
“I’d like to keep growing the brand,” he says, “eventually helping it to be the biggest brand in the state. I’m trying to gain as many draft lines as I can, every bar, and be in the best spots in the coolers so we’re available everywhere.”
He’s definitely enjoying his time here so far.
“I love it,” he says. “I told Hank and Ryan, it’s my favorite job ever. I’ve had a lot of cool jobs, but I love the culture. The team’s awesome. The branding’s super cool. Everything about it — everyone’s super friendly and easy-going. And everybody wants the brand. I love that. People want it.”
And he’s particularly enjoying the easy access to his favorite go-to beer, Always Ready.
“I love session beers,” he says, “and it’s like a New England-style with a low, 4.8% ABV, so it’s cloudy, hoppy. And no one believes that its so low because it’s so full-bodied. That’s my go-to beer. It’ll be my tailgate special this year at the Eagles games.”
Chris is out in the field, canvassing most of South Jersey for us. If you see him, be sure to say hello!