Daniel Kenary '82
Position: President and Co-founder of Harpoon Brewery
Thesis Title: “The Life of Kenneth O’Donnell, Special Advisor to President Kennedy”
For me, learning has always revolved around history. I was raised in a home where lively discussion centered on who best understood and could articulate the present in terms of the past. Old issues were never settled; they were always ripe for re-examination. From this I learned to relish a good argument not just for the entertainment, but more importantly for what I could learn from others and how well I could express myself.
Studying history at Harvard was a continuation of this fun.
Wallace McCaffrey was mesmerizing; David Donald made so much sense, and Bernard Bailyn revolutionized the revolution. And then there was Patty Nelson Limerick riding in on her horse from the west to talk about a new approach to understanding the American past. She became a friend and my thesis advisor and taught me another way to look at the world.
How fitting then that I should end up spending my career in the world’s second oldest profession: brewing. One of the things I love most about my business is its history. I have visited hundreds of breweries all over the United States and Europe, some founded last year and several more than five hundred years old. We brew styles of beer founded upon or mythologized with great stories: shipping beer to British troops in India, beer shipped to the court of St. Petersburg, beer named after British police in Ireland, beer brewed to the 1516 Reinheitsgebot (German Beer Purity Law).
In addition to its history, beer has been the essential lubricant to many late night discussions centered on historical questions. The beauty of studying history is that one is never finished. I still read a great deal of books and periodicals on subjects that first grabbed me in high school or in college. I have the foundation from those years to approach each topic with curiosity and interest and will always be grateful for that.