Drink Beer, Think Beer with John Holl
This weekly podcast gets to the bottom of every pint with brewers, growers, and industry leaders on all aspects of the brewing industry. From ingredients and process, to philosophy and the art in each beer, the podcast is hosted by long-time journalist John Holl and is available on all the major podcast platforms. Beer Edge releases new episodes of Drink Beer, Think Beer with John Holl every Wednesday. Beer Edge will release additional podcasts in the coming months.
Matt Brynildson is the Brewmaster of the Firestone Walker Brewing Company in Paso Robles, California and in this premiere episode of Drink Beer, Think Beer all he wants to do is talk about foam. It makes sense, actually. He is currently spending a year in Belgium as part of a “beer sabbatical” where he is learning from fellow brewers in the Duvel Moortgat family. Sitting in a barrel room at De Koninck in Antwerp being lulled by the songs of Barry White, Brynildson talks about his brewing philosophy and how it has evolved over a career that started in a hop lab, took him to Goose Island in Chicago, and eventually out west where his beer regularly racks up awards.
Carol Stoudt was the first female brewmaster in the United States following Prohibition and for the last thirty years has been at the helm of her Pennsylvania brewery turning out authentic lagers and experimenting with ales. In this episode of the Drink Beer, Think Beer podcast, Stoudt talks about the changing landscape of the craft beer industry and how it has helped the brewery to be more nimble and to experiment in ways that seemed impossible when she first started. From brewing on a pilot system with new generation hops to worrying about bar accounts and the competition, Stoudt opens up and offers perspective on how one legacy craft brewery continues to push forward.
Garrett Marrero What’s in a title? For Garrett Marrero, the CEO of Maui Brewing Company it’s the latest in an evolution of his company that started off as a small brewpub and now is a major beverage company making not just beer but coffee, spirits, and hard seltzer. Recorded at the Falling Rock Tap House during the Great American Beer Festival, Marrero talks about his early days in brewing, his push towards sustainable technology, and the importance of being local on Hawaii. Although beer is central to the company’s success, he is also open about embracing other beverages for the sake of diversity and to grow his company. There are hard lessons to be learned as the owner of a company and anyone thinking about jumping into the beer industry should give this a listen.
Evan Watson is a farmer, brewer, musician, athlete, and all around thoughtful guy. When host John Holl showed up at the Plan Bee Farm Brewery in New York’s Hudson Valley a few weeks back, Watson was holding an axe in one hand and a magnum bottle of barn beer in the other. After sabering open the bottle, and pouring two glasses, Watson showed off the farm, including acres of heirloom corn he is growing and that will go into his beers. Watson talks about inspiration, music, and how he is still trying to figure out his place in the brewing industry all while staying true to his art.
Hagen Dost and Bill Wesselink Strap in folks, because this week it’s Hagen Dost and Bill Wesselink of Chicago’s Dovetail Brewery. There are no secrets in the brewhouse and the pair who met in brewing school and opened up a house of lager in Chicago a few years ago are ready to discuss it all. From how they brew a rauchbier to the equipment they have acquired from around the world to how they approach creating a recipe from the water up, the duo go deep on brewing passion.
Samantha Lee and Stephen Bossu Since the 2016 presidential election, politics has dominated the national conversation and it’s not always polite. Businesses of all sizes have struggled to maintain the right tone when talking about their political beliefs, if they do it at all, for fear of alienating customers. So when John Holl sat down with Lee and Bossu of Hopewell Brewing a few weeks ago, he was surprised at how candid they were about politics and their beliefs. But, it became clear pretty quickly that their beliefs, backgrounds, and passions are what make Hopewell the brewery it is. And don’t worry. They talk about the beer as well.
Chad Henderson and Charles Willett John joined the good folks at NoDa Brewing during the Great American Beer Festival in the basement of famed Beer Bar Falling Rock. Chad goes by head brewer and co-owner and Willet is the brewery’s controller. In thinking about this episode, Holl says he’s “always struck, when talking with brewers, about how the littlest thing can happen and change the trajectory of a life, often to the benefit of us drinkers as well. On this episode, we talked about how changes in the law in North Carolina a few years back helped pave the way for the brewery, and how a simple conversation at a the Denver Rare Beer Tasting event helped Chad peruse his dream of brewing.
Cesar Marron Evanston Illinois is just north of Chicago and plays a big role in the temperance movement that swept the country a century ago. Frances Willard, the president of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union once lived here. After Prohibition the city decided to remain dry and did so until the 1970s and it wasn’t until 1984 that liquor stores were allowed in town. So, host John Holl was more than a little tickled when he sat down at Sketchbook Brewing in Evanston with founder Cesar Marron to have a pint. The city has come a long way over the last few decades and this brewery is now firmly part of the fabric. So much so that Sketchbook is currently undergoing an expansion. Holl first got to know Marron a few years ago when they were both judges at the Sam Adams Longshot competition, a contest Marron had won just a few years earlier. In this conversation, recorded at the Sketchbook tap room on an autumn afternoon they talked about juggling two careers and family, the tightrope walk that is distribution, and the thought and timing that goes into releasing specialty batches. Holl started off by asking Marron about his origin story and how he found his way into homebrewing and eventually going pro. We hope you enjoy the conversation.
Lauren Woods Limbach The wood cellar director and blender, Limbach has been with New Belgium Brewing Company for 22 years and has seen the changes to the industry first hand along with changes to New Belgium’s ownership, including the recent, pending, sale to Kirin-owned Lion Little World Beverages. On this episode of Drink Beer, Think Beer, Limbach talks with host John Holl about the sale but then shifts into wood and sour beer production where she is one of the country’s foremost authorities on the style. But, how do you classify the style and what separates a truly good representation from a mediocre one? Limbach shares some guidance and tips on how we can all be better educated when it comes to what we’re tasting. The pair caught up at New York’s Blind Tiger Ale House in early December, just two weeks after Lion announced that it would be adding New Belgium to its portfolio, which includes brands like Four Roses Bourbon. She was in town to talk about the brewery’s 2020 beer portfolio and even shares some release news on this show for the first time. Limbach and Holl cover a lot of ground over pints of pilsners and imperial stouts. Here’s their conversation.
Augie Carton This particular episode has been a long time in the making. Despite co-hosting a show with Augie Carton for the last four years, John Holl hasn’t really had a chance to sit down with him one-on-one for an interview. It’s something Holl has wanted to do, and judging by the emails and social media pings from listeners of Steal This Beer, the podcast they co-host, it’s something many others wanted as well. Holl sat down with Carton, the co-founder of Carton Brewing at his house on a recent Saturday morning. They drank some champagne and some of the beers Carton has been working on. They talked about building out recipes, fine dining influences on his brewing career, and how observing interactions, tastings, and general curiosity from his father, mother, and their friends laid the ground work on what he is trying to accomplish today. Each week on our show Holl sees Carton tease out flavors from beers that are poured blind, and while the brewer is always confidant and occasionally wrong, he does manage to bring some nuance to the forefront most of the time. So, that’s where the conversation begins: on flavor.
Jace Marti This week our guest on Drink Beer, Think Beer is Jace Marti, the assistant brewmaster at the August Schell Brewing Company in Minnesota. Beer has always been the family business, but rather than follow the status quo, Jace is working to bring the brewery into new arenas, notably wild and wood aged beers through the Starkeller Brewery Noble Star collection. Thanks to some long forgotten equipment – namely foudres – in the brewery’s New Ulm facility that were refurbished and moved to a separate location in town, the brewery that has long been known for bocks and adjunct lagers is now gaining acclaim for vibrant ales with fruit additions and great depth. Bringing change to a brewery that has been around for 160 years isn’t easy – both for the company itself and for customer perception, but adaptation is key to survival and growth these days, something Jace knows well. As the brewery prepares to transition leadership to a new generation of the family, Jace sat down with host John Holl in Denver just before the Great American Beer Festival to talk about what comes next. While it may seem like an obvious question, Holl wanted an answer, so he started off asking this 6th generation brewer if his destiny was sealed even before he could walk.
Maureen Ogle My guest today is Maureen Ogle, the author of several books including In Meat We Trust: An Unexpected History of Carnivore America and Ambitious Brew: A History of American Beer. There is a Revised Edition that is now available and you should use those holiday gift cards and return credits to get yourself a copy. In this conversation, recorded in Denver during the Great American Beer Festival, we cover a lot of ground, including her next project – another beer book – that might interest those of you who got a kick out of my previous show with Jace Marti. There’s a lot to learn from Maureen’s research and while we all might be focused – especially headed into a new decade – on the future – the lessons of the past are important. Since we’re both writers, there’s a lot of talk about that particular craft and I try to gain a little more insight on what Maureen learned as a historian diving into beer. That’s where we start.
Bill Shufelt Welcome to a new year and a new episode of Drink Beer, Think Beer. The first month has become known as Dry January by a certain segment of drinkers. The excess of the end-of-year holidays and new year resolutions that have people thinking healthier thoughts has played into this cultural movement where people decide to give up booze – or go dry for the first whole month of the year. So, I thought it fitting to sit down with Bill Shufelt of Athletic Brewing Co. He founded the company after he gave up beer and drinking but still wanted the experience of knocking back a cold one. His brewery is based in Stratford, Connecticut just a short distance from Two Roads Brewing. Athletic is part of a new wave of non-alcoholic breweries that have opened across north America in recent years, riding the trend of healthier drinking or drinking less. This is something that younger drinkers, the Millennials are doing, along with Boomers. The word “occasion” is often used when talking about when people consume non-alcoholic drinks and it can be everything from office happy hours to back yard barbecues. The non-alcoholic category is still small in the US. Like, almost non-existent small. But consider Europe where the NA category is about 10 percent of beer sales. So, there’s room to grow. In this interview, recorded in New York City at the Arts and Craft Bar, Shufelt talks with host John Holl about some of the challenges to get his beer to market and into the hands of interested drinkers. He’s reluctant to talk about how the company actually makes the liquid and prefers to stick to marketing pitches. But he is in a driver’s seat on the road to the non-alcoholic beer revolution, and Holl started by asking him to set the scene of where things stand as we all start off a new decade.
Linus Hall Nashville is a great city for drinking, from the bars along Broadway to the clubs on Music Row. But the beer has not always been local. That has changed over the last 20 years, and while it was not the first, Yazoo Brewing was one of the city’s early craft breweries and been a force for positive beer change in the music city where long neck bottles of Bud reigned supreme. And of course that beer is still king, but there is choice like never before and Yazoo is a big part of that. This week’s guest is Linus Hall, who founded the brewery in 2003. The brewery has grown as the city has grown and it is now in its third location. It’s on the outskirts of town, a drive away from the raucous parties and vacationers that populate downtown, which allows the taproom to once again serve locals, something Hall cares deeply about. The brewery has added a canning line, and have additional plans to expand the property to bring the Embrace the Funk program headed by Brandon Jones to the campus. On this episode, recorded at the brewery on New Years Eve, we talk about real estate, brewery growth, consumer expectations, and why you shouldn’t drink on New York City subway platforms.
Matt Lincecum When it opened a decade ago, Fremont Brewing was the sixth brewery in Seattle. The scene has changed tremendously since then and the brewery has grown from a small operation to one with over 100 employees producing around 55,000 barrels per year. What hasn’t changed, says owner Matt Lincecum, is a commitment to sustainability. Now, sustainability is a word that is used a lot in the brewing industry. People talk about their initiatives and best intentions for a greener planet, but it becomes harder and harder to do and practice as a business grows. So, for Lincecum, who has worked as an attorney, community activist, and environmentalist, it is important to keep a laser-like focus on the brewery’s goals and objectives. Host John Holl got together with Lincecum during the recent Big Beers, Belgians, and Barleywines festival to talk about growth, the brewery’s barrel aged program which includes gems like Rusty Nail, and the frustration, promise, and benefits of organic ingredients in beer. The brewery has a saying, “because beer matters,” and so that’s where Holl wanted to start the conversation.
Ashleigh Carter and Bill Eye of Bierstadt Lagerhaus Host John Holl loves lagers, especially well made ones. He hasn’t been shy about his bias for crisp, malt forward, slightly spicy hopped lagers and pilsners in the past and one of his favorite places to imbibe them is at the Bierstadt Lagerhaus in Denver. Tradition is the rule of the house at the brewery, just down the road from Coors Field. Ashleigh Carter and Bill Eye, the owners and brewers spent a career brewing the beers that other people wanted, so when they opened their doors a few years ago they decided to focus on what they wanted to drink: traditional lagers. That can be a tough sell for some beer consumers who walk into a brewery and expect to get an IPA or a stout or something from a barrel. For others it is nice to walk in and know you can get a mug of Helles or a Slow Pour Pilsner. There are seasonal lagers that show up a few times a year and some collaborations as well, and those can verge into the hoppier territory, but still never really break the IBU scale. Holl visits the brewery whenever he’s in Denver and during big events like the Craft Brewers Conference or Great American Beer Festival it’s not unusual to see brewers from around the country lining up for lagers. Most will, at some point, shake their head in disbelief that a small brewery can survive on just lagers and others will wistfully say they wish they could do something similar. For Carter and Eye there’s no other way, and in this conversation recorded at their brewery in early January 2020 they are open to saying that it’s this path or nothing. They don’t want to go back to working at a brewery that doesn’t match their passion.” This episode, by the way, is about as long as ten rounds of Slow Pour Pils.
Brandon Jones of Embrace The Funk This week the show is back in Nashville with our guest Brandon Jones of Embrace the Funk. Jones is one of the more thoughtful brewers in the country. Maybe this is because he spent years working in newsrooms as a journalist. He has an ability to look at all angles of something, in this case beer, along with a clear and easy way of sharing information. That’s just two of the reasons he is so respected as a wild and sour beer maker in the United States and beyond. In this interview, recorded at the Yazoo Brewery on New Year’s Day, he gets into what it means to be a sour beer, the education that goes into helping customers better understand and appreciate the style, and even changing the perception of what it can be. Jones also talks about the upcoming Funk Fest, a gathering that he created that brings together some of the best brewers in the country for an intimate afternoon to try some of the best spontaneous and, well, funky beers available. He even invited Beer Edge to work on the educational content that will be presented that day. So mark your calendars for Saturday, May 2nd in Nashville for Funk Fest. Tickets will go fast, so claim yours today. As the conversation started, host John Holl wanted to try and understand the world of sour beers a little more, so he posed the question to Jones, a proper newsman, on how words and descriptions can steer us towards a deeper appreciation.
Megan Parisi of Boston Beer Company There’s an awful lot of fun that can happen with brewing on a small batch system. And when you have the resources of one of the country’s biggest brewing companies behind you, the possibilities are limitless. That’s the situation this week’s guest enjoys. Megan Parisi has been with the Boston Beer Company for several years now, specifically working at the company’s Samuel Adams Boston brewery in Jamaica Plain. While heading up the small brewery there, she was able to experiment and do research and development on all manners of styles including some that wound up getting a full commercial release, including the brewery’s New England IPA. When it came time for Boston Beer to open its new brewery and taproom in Faneuil Hall, Parisi was the obvious brewer for the job. She has had experiencing opening up breweries from the ground up, including Bluejacket in Washington, D.C., Wormtown Brewing in Worcester, Massachusetts, and Sam Adams new, smaller, Cincinnati facility. In this interview, Parisi and host John Holl talk about recipe development, brewing in front of the public, the value of beer education, and the relationship between beer and art. The interview was recorded at the new brewery and taproom, just hours before it officially opened to the public. And since it’s not only a fully functional brewery but also a really wonderful showpiece, Holl started off by asking Parisi about the specific specs of the brewery.
Chase Saraiva of Arizona Wilderness John Holl recently headed to Phoenix to check in on the beer scene. It was the 20th anniversary of the Arizona Strong Beer Festival and the 10th anniversary of Arizona Beer Week. The beer scene has really grown in the last several years but seems to be largely self-contained with most brewers staying within the borders. Of course there are a few exceptions to that, including the now Anheuser-Busch InBev owned Four Peaks Brewing Co. For the beer lovers, the beer traders, and those who like to stay on top of the buzz, perhaps there is no better known brewery in the state than Arizona Wilderness. It started off small when it was founded in 2013 but soon found its business plan and popularity supercharged when it won big in the annual Rate Beer awards. From there, its popularity and foot print grew. Holl sat down with Chase Saraiva, the head brewer, who joined the brewery a few years ago after deciding against a career in dentistry. He started off in Pittsburgh, came to the southwest and landed a job with San Tan, another local brewery, and then joined up with Arizona Wilderness. Right now the brewery has its original brewpub, an offsite barrel and foudre facility called the woodnote cellar, and a downtown Phoenix taproom. The brewery celebrates all things wild and nature focused and many of the beers reflect that but there’s also a great deal of clean beer in house. That’s something Saraiva is passionate about. But Holl started out by talking about those early days, the increased notoriety and the pressure that comes with customer expectations, and the way that he and the team manage it all.
Jeremy Danner of 4 Hands Brewing Company If you’ve spent even just a casual amount of time on Beer Twitter, you’ve come across Jeremy Danner. He’s the passionate, outspoken, and thoughtful guy with an unending amount of Kansas City pride, a great love of family, and a near-constant live stream of beer. He was the public face of Boulevard Brewing up until a few months ago when he was suddenly let go from the company. Now, people come and go from places all the time, but because he was such a visible part of that brewery in his role as ambassador brewer, the news sent waves through the industry. He quickly bounced back and is now an on-premise account manager for 4 Hands Brewing Company as well as a brand ambassador. In this conversation, recorded at the Big Beers, Belgians, and Barleywine Festival, host John Holl gets into what it means to have your personal identity wrapped up in a brewery you don’t have ownership in, and what happens when it’s suddenly taken away. We get into what works and what doesn’t on social media – something we could all use a refresher on. Then it’s a transition into how Danner’s new role in sales has helped round out his beer education and what we all can learn from that. But first, Holl wanted to know how Danner first came to beer. Turns out, just like so many of us, it came through a friend.
Jason Perkins of Allagash Brewing What is a brewery made of? What’s in its soul? For many breweries in the United States, the answer seems to be hops. That’s an understandable response given the rise of the craft beer movement on the backs of lupulin. At Allagash Brewing in Portland, Maine, the brewmaster, Jason Perkins, believes in yeast. That makes sense given the brewery’s growth and popularity on the back of its White Ale. That beer has become an American classic, serving as a gateway for many into craft beer. In this conversation, recorded at Allagash, Perkins talks about how the brewery looks at innovation, considers ingredients, and runs trials to find out which beers will join White representing the company to the public. Perkins’ role with the brewery has grown over the years and he talks about that evolution and just what it means to be the brewmaster of one of the country’s larger and certainly more beloved breweries. For those looking for insights into the soul of Allagash, you’ve come to the right place.
Rudi Ghequire of Rodenbach and Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head Collaboration beers are a fun exercise. They usually allow two breweries to get out of their comfort zones and try to create something that will create a buzz among drinkers. Two of the world’s better known breweries got together more than two years ago to start talking about a collaboration and the result has just been released. It’s called Vibrant P’Ocean, a 4.7% ABV blended sour ale created by Rodenbach, the famed Belgian brewer and blender, and Dogfish Head, a brewery that has long been at the forefront of brewing creativity. Host John Holl sat down recently with Ghequire and Calagione to talk about their collaboration, how they approached the beer, the result, and what beers like this mean for the industry overall. What it revealed was an approach beyond just using the strengths of the breweries but also creating something that will appeal to today’s drinkers while not doing harm to beers that each already have on the shelves.
Ting Su of Eagle Rock Brewery What was the beer scene like in Los Angeles when Ting Su opened up Eagle Rock Brewery with her husband and father-in-law a decade ago? She describes it as non-existent and an uphill climb to get customers to try small batch beer made-in house. Like so many others, they found that the success came through education and that has been a key hallmark to the brewery’s growth and expansion. By breaking down beer flavors, explaining ingredients, and giving patrons – especially women – a place to come and learn without pretense. This is done through a monthly women’s forum where no matter the level of beer comfort all are welcome to come on the third Wednesday of the month to learn more about the combination of water, grain, hops, and yeast. In this conversation, recorded at New York’s Blind Tiger Ale House, Su talks about the role and importance of education and inclusivity, how the brewery approaches growth, and lessons learned over the last decade.
Patrick Rue of The Bruery Unless you live under a rock and this podcast is the only way you get your news, you know that we’re in the middle of a global pandemic for the COVID-19 virus. Seems like not too long ago there were memes about Corona bottles wearing surgical masks and now we’re being asked to isolate at home. It’s a real threat that has come to our states and towns and it’s having a huge impact on the brewing industry. Breweries are being shut down and prohibited from operating their taprooms. Some are offering to go options to help bring some money in from the lost business. Others have already laid off or furloughed employees. Conferences like the annual Craft Brewers Conference and bi-annual World Beer Cup have been called off for this year. Festivals like Hunahpu’s were canceled. It’s going to get worse. As the economy suffers and more virus cases come to light, breweries could stay closed for weeks, months, or forever. The news is moving fast so it seemed odd to do just a regular show this week, so we are switching it up. Host John Holl has been talking with brewers from around the country as part of the Beer Edge coverage and has recorded a few of the interviews. This episode starts with Patrick Rue from The Bruery. Then Andy Crouch chimes in with an interview he did with attorney Michael Boyer. After that the show heads down south to talk with Sean Lilly Wilson of Fullsteam Brewery and then wraps up welcoming back Andy so he and John can talk about what we have planned going forward – not only for this show but for Beer Edge coverage in general.