An Interview With Steve

If you’re reading this, you probably know Steve Altimari is President and Brewmaster of High Water Brewing. But do you know how he got here, who inspired him or whether he’s a dog or cat guy? Thanks to the folks over at Five Hundred Stories and their interview with Steve, we can share all this and more right here. Cheers!


After a 12-year career in the Silicon Valley tech world, Steve decided on a career change and attended the American Brewers Guild in Davis. He then took the helm as brewmaster at Valley Brewing Company until June 2010, including ownership during 1996 and 1997. Leveraging this successful brewing career, Steve embarked on the formation of High Water Brewing, with final licensing and production commencing in March 2011.  “High Water” being a playful interpretation of Altimari from Italian, “Alta” meaning High and “Mare” meaning Sea or Water.

Over the years, Steve has accumulated many accolades and awards for his brewing. He was awarded the 1st Place Gold Medal at the 2009 Great American Beer Festival for his Barley Wine – Old & In The Way and again in 2014 for Campfire Stout as well as a 3rd Place Bronze Medal for Aphotic Imperial Porter. He also earned a 2nd place Silver Medal at the 2010 World Beer Cup for his English Dark Mild. Campfire Stout just won the Gold Medal at the 2016 California State Fair along with a second gold at the Great American Beer Festival. Stella Blue, part of his highly lauded Calambic series, won gold at the California State Fair in 2015 and 2016 along with a host of other awards.


Inspired by the most respected and creative brewing practices and styles around the world, Steve’s love of beer and unbridled passion for all things flavorful, have led to a line of products representing the very best of the best. Assisted by his wife Barri, with her culinary background and prowess in flavorology, they create a product portfolio that has a little something for everyone; from the classic styles to the esoteric. “Unique Flavors for the Curious Palate.”


“Never give up, attack from another angle or just go in another direction completely. Every failure is a learning experience.” – Steve Altimari


What early experiences in life, cultivated your entrepreneurial spirit?
My work at Intel, as a Product Quality and Reliability engineer, really opened my eyes to true entrepreneurial adventures. As structured as the company is today, in the 1980s, we were free to develop ideas and programs, Intel would internally fund and support. It was start-up within a corporate structure, in the true sense of the word.


Why did you start your business(es)?
I was presented with the freedom of unemployment after a business deal fell flat, during its inception. It was a perfect motivator to start it all again, from scratch, and do it my way.


What entrepreneur has most inspired you?
Greg Koch of Stone Brewing Company. I met him early in my career. He is still an amazing influence, with how I view our company, and its role and responsibilities in the craft beer world.


What is the biggest obstacle you have overcome thus far in business?
The shortage of capital during our early days of business was a big obstacle. We needed to get very creative how we developed and marketed our products.


What have you learned from failure?
Never give up, attack from another angle or just go in another direction completely. Every failure is a learning experience.


How does your leadership style foster your company’s culture?
I like to lead by example and make sure we have fun while we do it. Life is too short to sweat the small stuff. You are only as good as what happened today, yesterday is history and tomorrow has not happened. Focus on the now.


What are your top 3 responsibilities as a leader?

  1. Setting the strategic targets and product portfolio for our company.
  2. Keeping the boat afloat and headed in the right direction.
  3. Providing positive feedback and opportunity for growth to employees and inspire greatness in others.


What internal process do you use to guide your decision-making?
“What would Greg do?” See #3.


How do you define success?
I haven’t ever spent much time defining it. Success isn’t financial for me, but more of an inner calm. I know it when I am in that zone and it is a great place to be.


Which book has inspired you?
Everything I Know About Business I Learned From The Grateful Dead, Barry Barnes, Ph.D


What do you think is the coolest technology out there, and why?
The coolest tech out there right now is the automotive assisted driving technology, it is amazing how autonomous the auto is becoming, parallel parking for us, safety and driving innovation. A close second would be augmented reality, coupled with virtual reality.


Steve’s Pop Quiz

  • Chocolate or Vanilla? Chocolate
  • Chips or Pretzels? Pretzels
  • Mountains or Beach? Mountains
  • Early Bird or Night Owl? Night owl
  • Sweet or Savory? Savory
  • Mac or PC? Mac
  • Cake or Pie? Pie
  • Dog or Cat? Cat
  • Pen or Pencil? Pen
  • Car or Truck? Car
  • Summer or Winter? Summer
  • Introvert or Extrovert? Introvert