I have to tell you that I am a big fan of your beer. I am really looking forward to trying Smooth Ryed. How/where do you find your inspiration for new beers?
I’ve been in brewing for quite a while and think about beer, brewing, and food pretty much constantly. In my position I am shown variations on malts and hops all the time so I do get a front-row seat to new ingredients. I listen to my crew a lot. The brewers here are very creative guys. Brewers love food, drink, and the preparation of food and drink. All of these things help to inspire us with new recipes.
Sometimes we tweak the process like when we make our fresh hop beers. Sometimes I want to build a beer around a particular ingredient. An example for us would be Kingpin. I ran across a hop called Liberty a few years back that I really liked. When I took over the brewery in 2010 I was asked to formulate a new beer. I suggested that we make a “red” (reddish) beer and use Liberty hops liberally in it. We did that and the result was Kingpin which is now our third best selling product. With Dark Rain we used some great established hops, but a key ingredient in that beer was a malt called “Midnight Wheat”. It gives a really nice smooth roasted malt flavor and mouth feel.
I am really excited about Smooth Ryed. We made a mid-range ABV pale ale (about 6.3) with some nice caramel malt and malted rye notes and gave it a big shot of Centennial hops in our hop jack. We’ve used this hop before but never by itself until now. My brewers and I really like the result and I think that the public will really enjoy this new beer.
We do a lot of test brewing using Oregon State’s pilot brewery system. We are working on some new ideas and hopefully you will see the result of those soon as well.
It sounds like you have a really great team that helps with the idea development. I really like to come up with new recipes too, though mainly with food, I haven't had much experience with home brewing yet. I can totally appreciate what you mean when you say brewers are always thinking about food and beer. :)
What did you do before you got into the beer industry? And how did you get into the beer industry?
Is there any style of beer that you prefer to brew over any other?
This is a question I ask everyone, so you get it too (Sorry if I am asking too many questions); what beer would you give someone to get them "hooked" on beer? Is there a style, or a specific beer that you think would give someone beer nirvana, and make them beer lovers?
I am truly blessed with talented, dedicated people. They do an incredible job.
I spent my first year out of college floundering a bit, but I ended up working in a food plant for about a year. During that time I was sending resumes to Blitz-Weinhard. After 4 resumes they finally called me in for an interview. I was hired as a QA Technician/Microbiologist in 1989. I spent 10 years there, then was hired here at BP as QA Manager in 1998. I really go my primary brewing education while at Blitz; from the old-school brewers and from various courses that I was offered and took.
I enjoy working on all kinds of beers. The fun of making beer for me is the variety and the challenge of adjusting processes and ingredients to create new beer experiences.
I think that the experience of getting “hooked” on craft beer is different for everyone. Some people never make it past the light lagers that the large brewers make while others cannot get enough of the variety that craft brewers make. It’s a very personal experience. So I think that the best thing for someone to do when they enter a brewpub for the first time is to order a sample tray and try everything that the brewery makes. I guarantee that the brewer has put his heart and soul into creating the recipes and brewing the beer. That is just the nature of craft brewers.
In craft breweries and brew pubs you have your customers just steps away from where you ply your craft. You are proud of what you do and want every beer to not just be good, but to be great. But everyone has styles that they like and don’t like. I ask people to keep an open mind, and I never tell people that they are going like or dislike a beer when I hand them a sample. I let them decide for themselves.
I agree very much with you. I think that everyone's palate is different, so one beer might not be the same to two people. That is why I got into writing about beer, because I love to hear the stories behind the beers. To me that is the best part of the beer, sharing in someone's passion.
I will have more on the newly released Smooth Ryed for you, but in the meantime, you should check out some of Bridgeport’s other fine offerings. I am a fan of Hop Czar, but Kingpin is my favorite at the moment.