OUR STORY

Passion.

One thing is for sure: owners Matt and Michaela are passionate about beer.

“My dad used to brew beer at home when we were kids. It was always something we wanted to try. Then in 2003, my wife Michaela lined up a homebrew session with some friends of ours, and we started doing it on a regular basis. Michaela’s Dad even decided to plant three acres of barley and 40 hop vines in his back yard. Our passion is a family thing—it always has been, and continues to be today.”

Family.

“In 2008 we started a business plan for a microbrewery. All of our plans revolved around family—not immediate family, but a West O Beer family. We wanted to find other people out there, an entire team, who all shared our same love for beer… And then grow it, and share it with others. We found them, and it worked.”

Water.

“Water is the most constant ingredient and flavor in beer. This ingredient led us to an empty lot in West Okoboji, IA, which was serviced with spring-fed, naturally soft water from West Okoboji Lake. Building on this lot in 2013 was the best decision we ever made. Our water is so important that we donate a portion of our proceeds to help preserve and protect the natural resources of the Iowa Great Lakes region. You’ll hear us talk a lot about our water, and for good reason: It’s a big deal.”

Process.

“We’re not an average family. We are West O Beer. If our beer were average, we’d be wasting your time. Our staff raises the bar on everything, including our process. With full confidence, we’ll set a pint of our beer up against anything. When you see the name West O Beer, you’ll know who you’re dealing with.

“It’s not all bar-raising—we raise a glass every day too, to fun and good beer. We’re all in, all the time. And we now welcome you in, to our family.”

Our sincerest thanks, and cheers!
–Matt, Michaela, and the whole West O family

MEET THE TEAM

Conor Fahy, Head Brewer

Born in Colorado, Conor’s parents worked for Coors in Golden as quality lab tech and brewing chemist. His dad opened “Champion Brewing Co” and won a gold medal at the GABF for his Brown Ale. His Mom was offered a job with Guinness as International Quality Control Director and they moved to England for 7 years (age 5-12.) He moved to Pine Island, MN and graduated high school in 2009. Conor attended college in Duluth, MN for a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology and Chemistry where he finished in 3.5 years. He moved home and worked at Olmsted County water testing before taking an unpaid internship at Broadstreet Brewing Co. in Reinbeck, IA. He began as an Assistant Brewer at West O in 2014, eventually assuming the Head Brewer position in 2016.


Fun Fact: Conor is a classic overthinker. He is loved because of his passion for and knowledge of beer, his dedication to the company at all levels and his BOISTEROUS laugh, which tends to scare employees and customers.

Likes: The Denver Broncos and football / drinking beer and grilling in the fall, Minnesota Wild, Pizza, Elephants (they never forget,) gardening, video games, Star Wars, Blazing Saddles and hammock time while reading

Dislikes: Warm beer and goats

Favorite Beer: Holy L

Conor Fahy, Head Brewer

Born in Colorado, Conor’s parents worked for Coors in Golden as quality lab tech and brewing chemist. His dad opened “Champion Brewing Co” and won a gold medal at the GABF for his Brown Ale. His Mom was offered a job with Guinness as International Quality Control Director and they moved to England for 7 years (age 5-12.) He moved to Pine Island, MN and graduated high school in 2009. Conor attended college in Duluth, MN for a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology and Chemistry where he finished in 3.5 years. He moved home and worked at Olmsted County water testing before taking an unpaid internship at Broadstreet Brewing Co. in Reinbeck, IA. He began as an Assistant Brewer at West O in 2014, eventually assuming the Head Brewer position in 2016.


Fun Fact: Conor is a classic overthinker. He is loved because of his passion for and knowledge of beer, his dedication to the company at all levels and his BOISTEROUS laugh, which tends to scare employees and customers.

Likes: The Denver Broncos and football / drinking beer and grilling in the fall, Minnesota Wild, Pizza, Elephants (they never forget,) gardening, video games, Star Wars, Blazing Saddles and hammock time while reading

Dislikes: Warm beer and goats

Favorite Beer: Holy L

Tessa Owen, Tasting Room Manager

Tessa is a life-long Okobojian. She currently lives in Spirit Lake but graduated from Okoboji High School. She has an 11 year-old son and a 6 year-old chocolate lab. She has been in the restaurant/bar industry for 12 years and has managed the tasting room at West O since September of 2016. Besides direct management and serving beer, Tessa is also in charge of all merchandise for the brewery and web store. CocO Stout was the beer that got her hooked on West O four years ago and she’s been drinking it ever since. Tessa likes West O because it brings family and friends together and you can always find a beer for everyone.


Fun Fact: Tessa is thankfully a multi-tasker, somehow maintaining all of the organization, management, and details of the tasting room. She has also helped form a sibling-like bond between the brewers, Adam, Aaron, and herself. Funner fact: You never know what color her hair will be next (our favorite was green with a “West O” logo shaved into one side.)

Likes: Traveling and experiencing different cultures

Dislikes: Thunderstorms

Favorite Beer: Holy L

Tessa Owen, Tasting Room Manager

Tessa is a life-long Okobojian. She currently lives in Spirit Lake but graduated from Okoboji High School. She has an 11 year-old son and a 6 year-old chocolate lab. She has been in the restaurant/bar industry for 12 years and has managed the tasting room at West O since September of 2016. Besides direct management and serving beer, Tessa is also in charge of all merchandise for the brewery and web store. CocO Stout was the beer that got her hooked on West O four years ago and she’s been drinking it ever since. Tessa likes West O because it brings family and friends together and you can always find a beer for everyone.


Fun Fact: Tessa is thankfully a multi-tasker, somehow maintaining all of the organization, management, and details of the tasting room. She has also helped form a sibling-like bond between the brewers, Adam, Aaron, and herself. Funner fact: You never know what color her hair will be next (our favorite was green with a “West O” logo shaved into one side.)

Likes: Traveling and experiencing different cultures

Dislikes: Thunderstorms

Favorite Beer: Holy L

Adam Layman, Brand Manager

Adam lives in Milford and has been with West O since 2014, where he has worked as Brand Manager since late 2015. When not at the brewery, he’s spending time with his daughters (9, 7, 6, 5) and fiancé. He also plays and sings in several bands and occasionally hits a round of golf. Variety and creativity are the things he enjoys most about beer—there’s always something new to try and experience. He says working in the industry you see how much creativity brewers have and what they’re working on; styles, flavors, even a new take on a traditional.


Fun Fact: Adam has an infectiously positive and helpful attitude, even jumping in to box beer when needed. After a shift serving, over a beer, he mentioned that if we ever had a full-time sales position open he would be interested. The moment we had that opening, he got the call.

Likes: The Cubs (GO CUBS GO), The Office, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, coffee, good discussions over a cigar, and any food that’s unhealthy

Dislikes: The Packers, bad beer, and having to eat healthy

Favorite Beers: 6 Foot 6 IPA & Holy L. Other Iowa Craft: Zoltan from Exile, South Side Citra from Confluence

Adam Layman, Brand Manager

Adam lives in Milford and has been with West O since 2014, where he has worked as Brand Manager since late 2015. When not at the brewery, he’s spending time with his daughters (9, 7, 6, 5) and fiancé. He also plays and sings in several bands and occasionally hits a round of golf. Variety and creativity are the things he enjoys most about beer—there’s always something new to try and experience. He says working in the industry you see how much creativity brewers have and what they’re working on; styles, flavors, even a new take on a traditional.


Fun Fact: Adam has an infectiously positive and helpful attitude, even jumping in to box beer when needed. After a shift serving, over a beer, he mentioned that if we ever had a full-time sales position open he would be interested. The moment we had that opening, he got the call.

Likes: The Cubs (GO CUBS GO), The Office, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, coffee, good discussions over a cigar, and any food that’s unhealthy

Dislikes: The Packers, bad beer, and having to eat healthy

Favorite Beers: 6 Foot 6 IPA & Holy L. Other Iowa Craft: Zoltan from Exile, South Side Citra from Confluence

Jake Theesfeld, Assistant Brewer

Jake has lived in Estherville his entire life. He loves the outdoors, especially when it’s on adventures with his son. When not spending time at work or outdoors, you’ll find him helping a friend on a project or volunteering at the local Elks Club. Jake is new to the beer industry but admits he really enjoys the atmosphere, making great craft beer, and always trying new things.


Fun Fact: Jake is the epitome of a hard worker and will constantly find things to do even when there isn’t something immediately ready for him. At the end of his interview, he smiled and asked, “When do I start?”

Likes: His dogs Buster & Grace, pizza, steak, and anything Mexican

Dislikes: Jell-O, decaf coffee, traffic

Favorite Beer: 6 Foot 6 IPA

Jake Theesfeld, Assistant Brewer

Jake has lived in Estherville his entire life. He loves the outdoors, especially when it’s on adventures with his son. When not spending time at work or outdoors, you’ll find him helping a friend on a project or volunteering at the local Elks Club. Jake is new to the beer industry but admits he really enjoys the atmosphere, making great craft beer, and always trying new things.


Fun Fact: Jake is the epitome of a hard worker and will constantly find things to do even when there isn’t something immediately ready for him. At the end of his interview, he smiled and asked, “When do I start?”

Likes: His dogs Buster & Grace, pizza, steak, and anything Mexican

Dislikes: Jell-O, decaf coffee, traffic

Favorite Beer: 6 Foot 6 IPA

Marshall Whitney, Assistant Brewer

Marshall was born in Ojai, CA before living in Graettinger for 16 years and graduating High School. He went to the University of Iowa, bounced around and has been in Spencer for the last two years. He has been home brewing for four years and loves to focus time on IPAs because of the great versatility of hops. His words of wisdom: “Strawberry shampoo doesn’t taste as good as it smells.”


Fun Fact: Marshall has a genuine passion for beer-making. When asked why he applied for the brewer position, he said: “I figure it would be better if I worked in a brewery making beer rather than driving my fiancé nuts all day talking about it.”

Likes: Woodworking, nature, photography, playing guitar, tailgating, spicy food, and the smell of new shoes

Dislikes: Pickles, the color burnt sienna, and Orlando Bloom

Favorite Beer: 6 Foot 6 IPA

Marshall Whitney, Assistant Brewer

Marshall was born in Ojai, CA before living in Graettinger for 16 years and graduating High School. He went to the University of Iowa, bounced around and has been in Spencer for the last two years. He has been home brewing for four years and loves to focus time on IPAs because of the great versatility of hops. His words of wisdom: “Strawberry shampoo doesn’t taste as good as it smells.”


Fun Fact: Marshall has a genuine passion for beer-making. When asked why he applied for the brewer position, he said: “I figure it would be better if I worked in a brewery making beer rather than driving my fiancé nuts all day talking about it.”

Likes: Woodworking, nature, photography, playing guitar, tailgating, spicy food, and the smell of new shoes

Dislikes: Pickles, the color burnt sienna, and Orlando Bloom

Favorite Beer: 6 Foot 6 IPA

Aaron Abel, Assistant Tasting Room Manager

Aaron was born and raised on a farm outside of Greenville, IA. Except for five years in Colorado, he has lived there—currently with Bella, his German Shepard.
He loves meeting the people who come to West O from all over, especially since it’s in a laid-back atmosphere with positive vibes. The thing he enjoys most is working within a grass-roots homegrown craft beer business. Quote: “I get to have fun with exceptional people and beer, and get paid!”


Fun Fact: Aaron has the ability to remain calm at ALL times—even with 95 customers ordering a flight of beer, at the same time, during a tornado. His personal experience with the details of serving the “perfect pint” is leaned upon for training and reminding staff on a regular basis.

Likes: Longboarding, paddleboarding, snowboarding, organic gardening, live music

Dislikes: None

Favorite Beer: 6 Foot 6 IPA

Aaron Abel, Assistant Tasting Room Manager

Aaron was born and raised on a farm outside of Greenville, IA. Except for five years in Colorado, he has lived there—currently with Bella, his German Shepard.
He loves meeting the people who come to West O from all over, especially since it’s in a laid-back atmosphere with positive vibes. The thing he enjoys most is working within a grass-roots homegrown craft beer business. Quote: “I get to have fun with exceptional people and beer, and get paid!”


Fun Fact: Aaron has the ability to remain calm at ALL times—even with 95 customers ordering a flight of beer, at the same time, during a tornado. His personal experience with the details of serving the “perfect pint” is leaned upon for training and reminding staff on a regular basis.

Likes: Longboarding, paddleboarding, snowboarding, organic gardening, live music

Dislikes: None

Favorite Beer: 6 Foot 6 IPA

Wanna join our family? We saved a stool for you.