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

Brandon Van Noort, Head Brewer

While working as a cook at a local restaurant after graduating from Spirit Lake High School in 2013, Brandon developed a passion for home brewing and spent much of his free time brewing beer for himself and his friends. He eventually turned his hobby into a career when he started working as an assistant brewer at West O in 2019. Simply put, Brandon was a natural. Three years later, he took over as our Head Brewer.


Fun Fact: Brandon started homebrewing after he built a bar in his house and wanted to have draft beer at home. He figured it would be cheaper to make his own kegs instead of buying them.

Likes: Riding motorcycles, camping, kayaking and anything outdoors.

Dislikes: Karens and coffee.

Favorite Beer: LAKE BEAST™ New England Style IPA

Brandon Van Noort, Head Brewer

While working as a cook at a local restaurant after graduating from Spirit Lake High School in 2013, Brandon developed a passion for home brewing and spent much of his free time brewing beer for himself and his friends. He eventually turned his hobby into a career when he started working as an assistant brewer at West O in 2019. Simply put, Brandon was a natural. Three years later, he took over as our Head Brewer.


Fun Fact: Brandon started homebrewing after he built a bar in his house and wanted to have draft beer at home. He figured it would be cheaper to make his own kegs instead of buying them.

Likes: Riding motorcycles, camping, kayaking and anything outdoors.

Dislikes: Karens and coffee.

Favorite Beer: LAKE BEAST™ New England Style IPA

Phillip Schulenberg, Sales Manager

Phillip was born in Lincoln, Nebraska before moving to Cherokee, Iowa and graduating from Washington High School. He went on to Buena Vista University and studied Management and Beer Drinking. He has a background in marketing and sales. His words of wisdom: “The truth hurts — maybe not as bad as jumping on a bicycle with the seat missing — but it hurts.”


Fun Fact: Almonds are a member of the peach family. Wait — a fun fact about me? Yeah, nothing comes to mind.

Likes: Movies, trivia, Husker Football and road trips.

Dislikes: Bad drivers, people talking/eating loudly in the theater and olives.

Favorite Beer: BAHIA™ Mexican Style Lager

Phillip Schulenberg, Sales Manager

Phillip was born in Lincoln, Nebraska before moving to Cherokee, Iowa and graduating from Washington High School. He went on to Buena Vista University and studied Management and Beer Drinking. He has a background in marketing and sales. His words of wisdom: “The truth hurts — maybe not as bad as jumping on a bicycle with the seat missing — but it hurts.”


Fun Fact: Almonds are a member of the peach family. Wait — a fun fact about me? Yeah, nothing comes to mind.

Likes: Movies, trivia, Husker Football and road trips.

Dislikes: Bad drivers, people talking/eating loudly in the theater and olives.

Favorite Beer: BAHIA™ Mexican Style Lager

Tyler Shuck, Tasting Room Manager

Tyler started at West O soon after we opened our tasting room in 2013 and worked as a part-time server when we only had four beers on tap. Born in Le Mars and raised in Everly, Iowa, Tyler traveled to Cedar Falls to attend college and eventually found himself back at West O slinging beers before accepting the position of Tasting Room Manager in 2018. Tyler acquired a taste for craft beer while working at bars and restaurants in Cedar Falls as well as the Lakes Area.


Fun Fact: Tyler can’t swim and has a slightly irrational fear of deep water and heights.

Likes: Video games, cats, NFL football, Iowa Hawkeyes, golf, golf again, cilantro and anything Star Wars.

Dislikes: Sour cream, mayonnaise, the sun, pepperoncini, snakes, swimming and the tea party.

Favorite Beer: BITTER ELF™ India Pale Ale

Tyler Shuck, Tasting Room Manager

Tyler started at West O soon after we opened our tasting room in 2013 and worked as a part-time server when we only had four beers on tap. Born in Le Mars and raised in Everly, Iowa, Tyler traveled to Cedar Falls to attend college and eventually found himself back at West O slinging beers before accepting the position of Tasting Room Manager in 2018. Tyler acquired a taste for craft beer while working at bars and restaurants in Cedar Falls as well as the Lakes Area.


Fun Fact: Tyler can’t swim and has a slightly irrational fear of deep water and heights.

Likes: Video games, cats, NFL football, Iowa Hawkeyes, golf, golf again, cilantro and anything Star Wars.

Dislikes: Sour cream, mayonnaise, the sun, pepperoncini, snakes, swimming and the tea party.

Favorite Beer: BITTER ELF™ India Pale Ale

Joseph M. Tiefenthaler, Assistant Manager/Taproots Director

Joseph M. Tiefenthaler is a Lakes Area native and nonprofit arts professional. After graduating from the University of Iowa, he first assisted with and then ran the renowned International Writing Program’s Fall Residency for eight years, coordinating writing residencies, international literary exchange programs, and collaborative performing arts events in communities across the U.S. — as well as in Brazil, China and Russia. He then became the first Executive Director of FilmScene, Iowa City’s nonprofit cinema, leading the organization thru five years of growth and quickly establishing FilmScene as a model nonprofit Art House Cinema nationwide. Joe also co-designed and co-led the multi-million dollar capital campaign to “Build the Greatest Small City for the Arts” in Iowa City. He also served as the long-time director of literary programming for the NEA-recognized Mission Creek Festival, a curator for Witching Hour Festival, coordinator for Pitchfork Music Festivals’ “Book Fort,” and more. He edited fiction for The Iowa Review and Wag’s Revue, the anthology “MCFX: 10 years of Mission Creek Festival” authors (Spork Press), and his own work can be found online at the Knox Writers House.


Fun Fact: Once danced to Right Said Fred’s “I’m Too Sexy” … on a stage … as a child … for a recital.

Likes: Charcuterie boards. Vinyl records. Old fashioneds.

Dislikes: Wet shoes and socks. Toilet paper rolls that go under, not over. And definitely spiders.

Favorite Beer: PILSNER™

Joseph M. Tiefenthaler, Assistant Manager/Taproots Director

Joseph M. Tiefenthaler is a Lakes Area native and nonprofit arts professional. After graduating from the University of Iowa, he first assisted with and then ran the renowned International Writing Program’s Fall Residency for eight years, coordinating writing residencies, international literary exchange programs, and collaborative performing arts events in communities across the U.S. — as well as in Brazil, China and Russia. He then became the first Executive Director of FilmScene, Iowa City’s nonprofit cinema, leading the organization thru five years of growth and quickly establishing FilmScene as a model nonprofit Art House Cinema nationwide. Joe also co-designed and co-led the multi-million dollar capital campaign to “Build the Greatest Small City for the Arts” in Iowa City. He also served as the long-time director of literary programming for the NEA-recognized Mission Creek Festival, a curator for Witching Hour Festival, coordinator for Pitchfork Music Festivals’ “Book Fort,” and more. He edited fiction for The Iowa Review and Wag’s Revue, the anthology “MCFX: 10 years of Mission Creek Festival” authors (Spork Press), and his own work can be found online at the Knox Writers House.


Fun Fact: Once danced to Right Said Fred’s “I’m Too Sexy” … on a stage … as a child … for a recital.

Likes: Charcuterie boards. Vinyl records. Old fashioneds.

Dislikes: Wet shoes and socks. Toilet paper rolls that go under, not over. And definitely spiders.

Favorite Beer: PILSNER™

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