While we often enjoy the product of their labors, many casual beer drinkers may not know much about the people who brew their beer. Here's a few tips: They often wear hats and boots; some have beards, but this is not the rule. The reality is that brewers are as perse as the beers they brew, and each has their own story and approach to brewing. This series is dedicated to brewers.
Can you tell us how you got started as a brewer?
Sure. I got interested in beer and brewing while I was working in the gift shop at Fitger’s Brewhouse in Duluth back in about 2009. They had such an amazing array of beers they were producing and it really opened my eyes to the creative opportunities in brewing. I got to know some of the brewers there and they encouraged me to pursue it. So, I ended up, one semester before graduating from UMD, enrolling at The Siebel Institute of Technology and, later on, The Doemens Academy. A couple years later I graduated and started working in breweries. First, just doing all the Charlie work, washing kegs, hauling spent grain, etc. and eventually moving over to the brewhouse. That was about five years ago now and I couldn’t be happier to be in this industry making beer alongside some incredibly smart and hardworking people. 612Brew has been great to me too. I think we’re making some really exciting stuff and I just want to share our beers with everyone.
What do you predict will be the next big trends in 2018
There’s the hazy IPA thing, I see that continuing for a while anyway. What I’m excited about though is the gradual shift by some brewers to more traditional brewing methods, recreating old world styles, and the consumer’s willingness to explore beers that aren’t just huge barrel aged stouts and super hoppy IPAs. The fact that almost every brewer is trying their hand, and largely succeeding, at producing really refined, well made pilsners is a real treat.
What is your favorite beer other than your own?
There’s so many to choose from. Even picking one from our own neighborhood would be hard. I love continental style lagers, Fair State’s Vienna Lager is absolutely incredible. In my fridge at home you’ll usually find some Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, a lot of Summit, Bent Paddle, and Bauhaus beers, and, hear me out here, Coors Banquet. Also, I drink my fair share of Grain Belt Premium.
If you could brew absolutely anything you wanted - what would you brew?
Pils, Weisse Bier, Saison. I really like to brew beers that put the emphasis on process rather than a laundry list of ingredients or whatever the ABV is. Simple, straight forward beers made with care are usually the best.
What are you most excited for in 2018?
We’ve got tons of projects in the works for 2018. We’re sticking with a bunch of our classics (Maibock, Mary Ann, Cloud Wars, Hidden Beach, to name a few) and we’ve got some other tricks up our sleeves. Look out for some really unique releases from our barrel and wood aging program and a couple of brand new year-round offerings in cans. More generally, I’m really excited to see the continued growth of the industry and the increasing focus on quality and consistency. As our industry matures in this country, consumer’s palates are maturing as well. Customers are becoming harder to please, which is a great thing, and every brewer is going to have to work hard to keep up in an ever more competitive market.
Most ridiculous things you’ve done in the name of beer?
Become a brewer. I think anyone who works in this world can tell you that it’s a crazy thing to pursue. The pay is low, the hours are long, the stress is high, and I wouldn’t give it up for anything.
Anything else our audience might like to know?
The crew at 612Brew consists of some of the hardest working people I’ve ever known. Especially the guys I work with in production. Chris and Mike, you dudes kill it and deserve way more recognition. Come check us out, ask questions, give us your feedback, and keep loving beer. Also, go drink a cider once in a while.