Q: Did you start home brewing before you went pro?
A: I did not, though I started brewing with friends and co-workers shortly after I began working at GLBC. I pretty much learned everything about brewing on the job and by taking several classes over the years.
Q: Where did you meet your wife?
A: Funny one! Through her sister at a GLBC Christmas party.
Q: What’s the best whirlpool temp? And for how long?
A: Since we whirlpool right out of the kettle, the temperature is just below boiling. A ½ hour is our standard.
Q: First Beer you ever drank? Doesn't have to be craft.
Q: How did you get started in the industry?
A: I graduated with a science background which is what got me in the door at Great Lakes shortly after I had graduated. The plan was for me to help start up the Quality Control department over the next several years after I started. I did that as well as brewed several times a week, filtered, worked on the bottling line, etc.
Q: Toughest technique you've mastered? Toughest style you've mastered?
A: The toughest technique might not be directly related to brewing beer but with an old diatomaceous earth filter that we had. The machine was basically run on instinct, feel, and resulting experience. Some guys were good and some were not. In terms of beer styles, some of the “Session” beers were difficult to transition to our larger system. We accomplished it, but it took longer than expected. Some of the sour beers will be a good challenge as well.
Q: Mashing for 30 minutes? Are commercial breweries doing it?
A: Yes, we do that and then some along with other breweries.
Q: Favorite Beer you’ve ever brewed? Favorite GLBC pub exclusive beer?
A: Favorite beer – Oktoberfest (but it does change on occasion),
Pub exclusive – Rockefeller Bock (I’m a lager guy!)
Q: If you could only brew with one strain of yeast for the rest of your life, what would you choose?
A: Our Great Lakes lager yeast – it’s very predictable and produces highly consistent fermentations and resulting beer.
Q: Do you guys use city water, or do you treat your brew water for GLBC?
A: Yes, we run it through a coarse filter and then a carbon filter to remove the chlorine.
Q: How long do you typically tinker with a recipe before it gets released?
A: It varies. Most of the beers that hit packaging are started on our brewpub system where we have room to play around and nail it down. Beers like Turntable Pils and Steady Rollin Session IPA all started as brewpub exclusives. It usually does not take more than a brew or two.
Q: What do you think the CLE beer scene will look like in 20 years?
A: Great question! It’s anybody’s guess. My prediction would be still a large, but sustainable, number of breweries making a varied amount of styles. I also think that some of the retro or older, traditional styles will continue to make a comeback.
Q: Do you recommend making a yeast starter regardless of Starting Gravity?
A: With lower gravity beer, it should not be an issue as long as you have the correct pitchable amount. With higher gravity beer, I think it is always good to “wake the yeast up” and do a starter. This would be less of an issue if you are capable of re-pitching from a higher gravity beer (but not too high). Pitching rates are always of the utmost importance.
Q: What common beer adjunct do you dislike the most?
A: Corn. I can usually pick it out right away from most beers with less than desirable attributes. In that respect, I think rice is much better.
Q: What are some of the most important things for a new brewery to do in the first six months of operation?
A: Consistency and quality. A new brewery will be under the microscope more now than ever before when you first open. There is also a much more educated public out there now than ever before. People will catch on if these are not kept up from the start.
Q: Do you have a mental process to creating recipes? What are some big things to keep in mind when making a new recipe? How important is simplicity?
A: Not really. It’s basically what style have we not brewed in a while or would simply make sense, what kind of “twist” can we put on an existing style, or sometimes the biggest thing we look at is what kind new raw materials are available to make the beer stand out from the rest. Also, in the end, it has to sell so you have to know what your market or audience is and what kind of expectations there might be for the beer. The best beer would be a beer that is greatly appreciated, popular, and has a high degree of simplicity. That definitely checks ALL the boxes.
Q: What in your mind is the best thing about your job?
I make a product that people love, share with other people, and create great memories.
Q: What’s the largest batch of beer you’ve seen ruined and dumped out?
A: 600 bbls! It was a sad day, but that doesn’t change the fact that it needed to be done. Brewing consistent high-quality beer is top priority at GLBC, so it’s important we only bottle brew that meets the standard we (and our fans) set for ourselves.