40 under 40 — Brian Eaton
Pi Sigma, 2006 — Recognized in: 2020, 2018
Along with fellow Pi Sigma brother (and brother-in-law) Kyle Mientkiewicz, Brian Eaton has established one of the top craft breweries in Pittsburgh. After founding Grist House Craft Brewery, a true startup that is now one the most popular and highest quality breweries in Western PA., their initial success now has them moving into the canning and distributing side of the business. Brian’s journey to found Grist House is quite unique, and isn’t exactly what one would expect when picturing a craft brewery start-up.
“After graduating from Penn State with a degree in Journalism, I moved to Washington, DC for an internship through the Washington Scholars program. With the support of the brothers running the Washington Scholars, I left the internship early in order to accept a job as the Press Secretary with the United State Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. As is typical for jobs in DC (which are tied to the rise and fall of politicians and political parties), my job security was in question towards the end of 2008. At the recommendation of a fellow Pi Sigma brother, I applied for a job at the Leadership Institute doing high dollar fundraising.
In 2011, after moving to Pittsburgh, PA, my brother-in-law and fellow Pi Sigma brother, Kyle Mientkiewicz (also a former Phi) and I decided we wanted to go into business for ourselves. With a passion for homebrewing and our love of craft beer, we opened Grist House Craft Brewery in the spring of 2014.”
In reflecting on his professional journey, Brian recounts how Zeta Psi helped foster a lot of the skills that would ultimately become instrumental in his career.
“The leadership skills I gained by serving in officer positions within Zeta Psi have been indispensable as Grist House has moved from a fledgling start-up to one of the most recognized craft breweries in Pittsburgh, PA. The ability to manage and lead employees, network with fellow industry members, and tackle new and ever changing daily challenges are things I first learned to deal with as Phi of Pi Sigma.
As I continue to look toward the future of Grist House, it is interesting for me to look back at the path my life and career have taken so far. From the moment I stepped foot on campus at Penn State, Zeta Psi has had a tremendous impact on almost every major career move I have made.”
As advice to any younger brothers toying with pursuing their entrepreneurial spirit, Brian urges them to go for it:
“To all the brothers out there who are looking to get into business for themselves, I encourage you to make the leap and be prepared to work harder than you ever have before. Don’t be afraid to fail and never forget to use the tremendous network you have been initiated into by becoming a brother of Zeta Psi. I would not be where I am today without the encouragement, advice and support of the brothers I gained through Pi Sigma and Zeta Psi.”