Michael Peticolas never imagined after more than a decade as a lawyer, he would walk away from his practice and become a respected leader in the Dallas craft brewery community.
A fifth-generation lawyer, Peticolas graduated from South Texas College of Law in Houston and spent several years building his career, though he jokingly admits, the family business was always something of a backup plan if he didn't end up playing music or playing soccer professionally.
"Before I went to law school, I set goals for myself as a lawyer and by 2010, I had done all that," he says. "I opened my own law firm and provided the financial freedom I wanted."
That's when Peticolas decided to leverage his background in pursuit of another passion: craft beer.
Michael, along with his wife, Melissa, opened Peticolas Brewing Co. in December 2011, and his legal expertise was an asset from the start. The couple's first attempt at securing a location led Peticolas to dig deep into city code to find a building with the correct zoning for a beer manufacturer.
And it's a good thing he did -- Peticolas' inaugural brew and flagship beer, Velvet Hammer, is one of the most coveted beers in Dallas-Fort Worth.
But opening his brewery was just the beginning. In 2013, Peticolas was elected to the board of the Texas Craft Brewers Guild to help shape industry legislation in favor of small brewery owners. The catalyst? Texas Senate Bill 639, a new law that simultaneously enabled alcohol distributors to profit from the sale of a brewery's distribution rights and revoked the same privilege for brewery owners. The law passed in 2013.
"I became involved when there was a bill introduced that took away craft brewers' rights," Peticolas says.
"Because of my background, I took offense to that and wanted to get involved because we should be expanding these rights."
The next year, in December of 2014, Peticolas Brewing Co., along with Revolver Brewing in Granbury and Live Oak Brewing Co. in Austin filed a lawsuit against the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission to overturn the bill. Peticolas has since spent countless hours on the case researching the facts and evidence, convening other brewers who feel the law is disingenuous, and traveling to the state capitol for oral depositions.
Rhett Keisler, the co-owner and president of Revolver Brewing, says Peticolas is not only a partner in the courtroom, he's a friend.
"He is the real deal, an asset to the community," Keisler says. "Michael is not only a great brewer, his legal background gives him a solid foundation to navigate his way logically through business challenges. And in addition to having a solid character, he is just fun to hang out with."
District Judge Karin Crump of Austin presented the final summary judgment in August 2016 and ruled in the breweries' favor.
"Right after the case, I was kind of glad and happy to be over with it," Peticolas says. "I really wanted to focus on my business and not worry about representing others -- I was a little tired."
But that wasn't the end of the road. The state appealed the judge's decision late last year, so the case will now move to the appellate court where it will be heard by a new justice or a panel of justices. There's no telling how long the appellate process may take, Peticolas says.
Outside of the courtroom, the humble and quick-witted brewer has become a staple of the Texas beer scene, tirelessly working to develop his brand and help others along the way.
"Whether it's trying to talk to a brewer who's opening a brewery or talking about quality beer, I'm just trying to lead by example," Peticolas says.
"I try to get involved with the state guild, with the legislative committee and in litigation so others will do the same, so we can test these boundaries and really and truly become a beer-centric state."