While some focus on scaling that career-advancing ladder of hierarchy and prosperity,  Blake Kleppe and Krista Brooks disengaged from it completely. They had a calling—Quit Work; Brew Beer. Taking the plunge to escape rigid 9–5 desk jobs and the stifling operational structures where their real passion remained untapped, they decided to stop climbing and start living by starting their own small business—a microbrewery nestled in the heart of Parrish with a neighborhood vibe and a taproom of solid craft beers. Brooks is a PhD microbiologist who ran an infectious disease lab for the Navy out in San Diego for a company contracted by the government—keeping her inside the lab around the clock. Kleppe studied economics and finance, crunching numbers as an analyst for years before opening his own insurance brokerage in Massachusetts. “We both worked for big companies and really fled back,” says Kleppe, “Having been homebrewers for the last eight years, we just decided one day we were going to actually do it.” Call it restless, call it reckless, call it a revolution—they’ve successfully built a brand from their bigwig insurgency—a concept that really lends itself to a lot of corporate snark, fun beer names and themed events. “We play off of that whole idea of rejection to big business—the same way craft beer is a rejection of macro beers,” Kleppe says. Indeed, playful motifs arise with product names like Liquid Asset (Saison), Vacation Day (toasted coconut IPA), Proof of Concept (New England IPA), Casual Friday (raspberry Shandy), Supply Closet (mint milk Stout), Conference Call (Belgian) and the signature Merger & Acquisition (Florida style Berliner Weisse with peach and habanero).

PHOTO BY WYATT KOSTYGAN.

Meanwhile, wayfarer coffee connoisseur Justin Banister of Out and About Coffee got in on the action to brew some magic and create a hit concoction right out the gate with the Blonde Ale—combining the rich roast of Ethiopian beans with the crisp bite of hops, and now reigning as one of Corporate Ladder’s most popular brews. “We’re learning everything as we go—really hitting the mark on some and experimenting more on others. There’s a lot of dialing in that we have done and have yet to do. We’re having fun,” says Kleppe, who’d rather maximize happiness over profit. “Yes, we’re a business and have to make money—we don’t hide that fact. But the money will take care of itself,” he says. “The end goal is creating a welcoming space and sense of community. We happen to do it through beer.”