One thing I believe is often overlooked is how diverse our local brewers really are. The mid Atlantic has a great balance of traditional brewers as well as some that are a bit more experimental. Innovation is great but balance is better. The idea for our next set of interviews was to ask a handful of brewers from unique brewing backgrounds the same series of questions and see how their responses represent their own niche. For the next six Friday’s we will be presenting a new question every week with responses from all six of our chosen brewers.
With regard to consistency, what’s the toughest part of brewing beer on a commercial scale?
Favio Garcia of Lost Rhino – You got to keep your yeast happy. Yeast management can be hard to do in a small microbrewery. And [as] the brewery grows, keeping your brewers happy.
Bill Madden of Mad Fox – Getting enough hops to keep some of our IPAs on tap consistently. With regard to the day-to-day challenges, managing the yeast strains with only six fermenters has been a struggle for us at times especially since we try to do many styles that require various German, Belgian and English strains of yeast.
Jonathan Reeves of Port City Brewing – Easiest question so far. Packaging, especially bottles. Your line is the most complicated device in the brewery, lots of moving parts and with all the consumables: glass, 6 packs, cases, labels, and such, very expensive to run. Package beer’s quality and stability is what keeps me up at night. I keep hoping that we have built our beers to survive in the wild. So far, so good.
Ernie Igot of Heavy Seas- It is doing small batches to target big volumes, like brewing 100 bbl batches at a time and doing 600 bbls a week all year round. In big breweries, you have the ability to blend 6 – 7 brews in a fermenter tank and subsequently blend 3 tanks during filtration.
Matt Brophy of Flying Dog – Dealing with agricultural ingredients that can change a bit from harvest to harvest. But then again that is the beauty of craft as well.
Brian Strumke of Stillwater Artisanal Ales– for me being a ‘gypsy’ brewer, the biggest issue I struggle with is not always having a consistent location to produce all of my beers.
This interview is a part of the six part interview series Six Brewers/Six Questions. Be sure to check out the rest of the series here.