Getting to Know Brew: Q&A with Local Brewers

Local brewers talk about their personal favorites, trends and why Philly is the best place to brew.

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Name: Casey Hughes
Title:
Director of Brewing Operations
Brewery: Flying Fish Brewing Co.

How many years have you been brewing? 15 years.
What is your favorite beer that you brew? All the beers in the Exit Series, but Exit 4 if you need just one.
What is your favorite beer that you don’t brew? Pikeland Pils, Philly Pale Ale, Nugget Nectar, Nodding Head Berliner Wiess, Iron Hill Caprice..... too many good locals to list.
What will be the new Trend in brewing/beer? Imperial Barrel Aged Sour Mild Ice Bocks.
New hot ingredient? What's your favorite ingredient? I have 4, Malt, Hops, Water, Yeast.
Anything you refuse to brew/use? I don't think that I'll ever brew a Wit or Pumpkin beer.
Do you have an epiphany beer? Or something that made you want to start brewing? I'm always looking for new ideas for the Exit Series, the last one, Exit 16 was inspired by a beer that I had at Kuhnhenn Brewing in Warren Michigan. They brewed an IPA with rice and it was amazing and I told the brewer that when I get home I'm going to brew a beer like it.
Hardest thing about the job? Trying to stay as chipper as Gene [Muller, owner of Flying Fish] is every morning.
Why is Philly such a great area for beer? What makes it special? Because it's the best beer-drinking city in America! Unbelievably knowledgeable consumers and world-class
brewers.

Name: Gordon Grubb
Title: Brewer
Brewery: Nodding Head Brewery and Restaurant

 
How many years have you been brewing? Eight years professionally after two years of homebrewing.
What is your favorite beer that you brew? ich bin ein Berliner Weisse.
What is your favorite beer that you don’t brew? Saison de la Senne.
What will be the new Trend in brewing/beer? Wow, I have no idea.  We've had high alcohol, very hoppy, fruit, aged, sour, low alcohol, wood aged, collaborations and probably a few that slip my mind at the moment.  Is there something left?  Blending maybe or have we had that already? 
New hot ingredient? What's your favorite ingredient? I can't think of anything really new. I always enjoy using fresh hops.
Anything you refuse to brew/use? I'll use anything. Why limit myself?
Do you have an epiphany beer? Or something that made you want to start brewing? I bought a case of Stoudt’s gold in probably 1988 and went back the next day for a case of Fest. That opened my eyes to what beer (and American beer) can be. I never really considered brewing at all until I got a homebrew kit for Christmas one year.
Hardest thing about the job? The hardest things here all have to do with being on the second floor.  Basically, carrying stuff up and down the stairs.
Why is Philly such a great area for beer? What makes it special? Two things stand out in my mind.  First, the enthusiasm of the drinkers and their willingness (maybe even eagerness) to try new and different things.  The other thing is the spirit of cooperation and support between so many of the breweries, wholesalers and bars that so often makes it fell like we are doing something worthwhile together instead of simply competing.

Name: Brett J Kintzer
Title: Head Brewer/Production Manager
Brewery: Stoudt Brewing Co.

 
How many years have you been brewing? 15.
What is your favorite beer that you brew? Karnival Kolsch.
What is your favorite beer that you don’t brew? Sierra Nevada Porter.
What will be the new Trend in brewing/beer? Session Beers.
New hot ingredient?: Herbs and flowers.
What's your favorite ingredient? Yeast…without it, there would be no beer.
Anything you refuse to brew/use? Rice and corn.
Do you have an epiphany beer or something that made you want to start brewing? Nothing in particular.
Hardest thing about the job? Loving it too much!
Why is Philly such a great area for beer? What makes it special? Great people with great minds will always gravitate towards great things!

Name: Sam Calagione
Title: President

Brewery: Dogfish Head Craft Brewery


How many years have you been brewing?
Professionally for 15. Unprofessionally for 17.

What is your favorite beer that you brew? I’m going to go with Palo Santo Marron, the one we age in a 10,000 gallon wooden barrel made out of spicy, caramel-center Paraguayan wood. But only because it is the beer I had last night.

What is your favorite beer that you don’t brew? Saison du Pont.

What will be the new trend in brewing/beer?
There will not be just one trend.  The craft brewing community will continue to broaden the definition of good beer and fly our respective freak flags in a thousand different directions.

New hot ingredient? What's your favorite ingredient?
For hot I would say rocks. Because heat the bejezum out of rocks over a wildfire for our Sahtea beer then plop them in the wort (pre-fermented beer) for earthy, smokey goodness. For favorite I would say anything outside the so-called "traditional" four.

Anything you refuse to brew/use? I refuse to sell anything bought or processed and I would never process anything that is sold.      

Do you have an epiphany beer? Or something that made you want to start brewing?  I tried both Sierra Nevada and chimay red the same week in 1993 and graduated from the monochromatic beer.  

Hardest thing about the job?  Email. And waking up in the middle of the night remembering a forgotten email I never returned.

Why is Philly such a great area for beer? What makes it special? It was the birth place of lager. The people who live in Philly have beer in their DNA. We have a disproportionate number of awesome craft and homebreweries in this here region. And Tom Kehoe was once in a Budweiser ad.  So we have that going for us.

Name: Bill Covaleski
Title: Co-brewmaster & co-founder
Brewery: Victory Brewing Company


How many years have you been brewing? 20 years
What is your favorite beer that you brew? Prima Pils for its balance, full flavor and awesome refreshment.
What is your favorite beer that you don’t brew? Saison DuPont because it makes Cana de Oveja cheese from DiBruno Bros.—an amazing experience.
What will be the new trend in brewing/beer? Flavorful, low-alcohol beers. A real challenge to make, but simple to enjoy in quantity.
New hot ingredient? Really liking sage for what it has done to Saison du BUFF, a collaboration we are doing with Stone and Dogfish Head.
What's your favorite ingredient? German malt, the soul of Victory beers.
Anything you refuse to brew/use? Don’t hold your breath for a pumpkin ale from Victory…
Do you have an epiphany beer? Maybe Waldhaus Pils in Germany in 1987 because I had never experience so much fresh hop flavor before that.
Or something that made you want to start brewing? Wanting to create exciting beer flavors like I found in Anchor Liberty Ale and other mid-80s discoveries.
Hardest thing about the job? Saying no to marginal ideas, because I’m a hopeless optimist with only 24 hours in the day, like everyone else.
Why is Philly such a great area for beer? The hard work of stubborn industry founders such as William Reed, Eddie Friedland, Tom Kehoe, Ron and I who refused to accept that Philly once was the No. 1 Coors Light market in the U.S.
What makes it special? The Philly audience! They encourage all of us local brewers to experiment more and brew more. Nothing could replace that support!

Name: Brian O’Reilly
Title: Brewmaster
 
Brewery: Sly Fox Brewing Co.

How many years have you been brewing? 14.
What is your favorite beer that you brew? Pikeland Pils and O’Reill’s Stout 
What is your favorite beer that you don’t brew? Saison Dupont 
What will be the new trend in brewing/beer? Colaborations 
New hot ingredient? What's your favorite ingredient?
Snickers bars. My favorites are malt, hops and yeast
 
Anything you refuse to brew/use? Snickers bars 
Do you have an epiphany beer? Or something that made you want to start brewing? German Pils 
Hardest thing about the job? Long days and lots of juggling mechanical and personal emergencies.
Why is Philly such a great area for beer? What makes it special? Philly is special because of its diverse taverns and breweries. Like no other place on earth!

Name: Jennifer Yuengling 
Title: Plant Coordinator
Brewery: DG Yuengling & Son, Inc.

How many years have you been brewing? 181 years in business.
What is your favorite beer that you brew?  Lord Chesterfield Ale.
What is your favorite beer that you don’t brew?  Any summer ale
What will be the new trend in brewing/beer? Hoppy beers (IPAs) 
New hot ingredient? What's your favorite ingredient?  Dry hopping
Toughest part of the job:  Meeting demand (a good problem to have!)
Why is Philly such a great area for beer? Philly area is a great beer city. The people have an appreciation for beers with character and are open to trying beers that are not the norm or atypical.

Name: Patrick Jones
Title: Brewer
Brewery: Triumph Brewing Co.

How many years have you been brewing? 13
What is your favorite beer that you brew? German Pils
What is your favorite beer that you don't brew? Wine
What will be the new Trend in brewing/beer? Session Beers
New hot ingredient? What's your favorite ingredient? New & hot: Fruit (which is actually old). Favorite: alcohol (yet it’s not an added ingredient but otherwise what’s the point)
Anything you refuse to brew/use? Mushrooms
Do you have an epiphany beer? Or something that made you want to start brewing? Sierra Nevada Pale. In college I went from Natural Light to SNP in one night and never went back.
Hardest thing about the job? Putting on the boots, my back is killing me!
Why is Philly such a great area for beer? What makes it special? “It’s the water!”

Name: Bill Moore 
Title: Brewmaster
Brewery: Lancaster Brewing Co

How many years have you been brewing? 20 years professionally, 15 years home brewing before.
What is your favorite beer that you brew? Fest Amber Lager
What is your favorite beer that you don’t brew? Bock, most styles
What will be the new trend in brewing/beer? Craft beer in cans
New hot ingredient? What’s your favorite ingredient? Malt
Anything you refuse to brew/use? Sour Beer / Gueze
Do you have an epiphany beer? Or something that made you want to start brewing? Anchor Steam (fresh)
Hardest thing about the job? Not be able to answer all the questions at festivals.

Why is Philly such a great area for beer? What makes it special? Located close to large market area with open-minded people. All the different styles available made locally by award-winning craft breweries.

Name: Ben Potts
Title: Head Brewer
Brewer: Dock Street Brewery

How many years have you been brewing? Professionally, going on two years. But I've been brewing beer for a total of six years.
What is your favorite beer that you brew? Saison Du Potts or Bohemian Pilsner. Both quality brews with a ton of flavor but low alcohol contents so I can drink more than one at a time.
What is your favorite beer that you don’t brew? Cantillon from Belgium. I just love those tart, funky beers.
What will be the new trend in brewing/beer? I think craft beer will trend more toward quality brewed low-alcohol beers that can be enjoyed more often. People will always make “extreme” beer, but extreme beers can’t support an industry by themselves forever.
New hot ingredient? What’s your favorite ingredient? Not really an ingredient per se, more of a process, but barrel aging is definitely the hot new ingredient in brewing.  Barrel aging contributes all sorts of different flavors and aromas and really transcends what most people view as beer.  I also see a lot of Rye beers popping up these days.  Personally, I'm fascinated with yeast and microbes.  I love using different yeast strains, especially experimenting with rare and infamous wild yeasts.
Anything you refuse to brew/use? Not really. I'm always down to try something new. Every beer is a new challenge and some require new processes which are always good and/or fun to learn.
Do you have an epiphany beer? Or something that made you want to start brewing? I originally began brewing beer because, as a flowering young beer drinker, I quickly discovered a new and wonderful world when trying things like Chimay from Belgium or American crafts like Sierra Nevada Big Foot Barleywine or Dogfish Head Midas Touch. As someone who had just started drinking beer this was not what you thought of in high school. I'd always split a case of something new with my friends, which made buying the expensive stuff not so bad. Once I learned it was possible for oneself to brew stuff like that, I never looked back.  I had a similar epiphany years later (after brewing for awhile) when tasting Lost Abbey/Port Brewing’s Cuvee de Tomme and Oerbier Reserva from Belgium. That opened my eyes to new possibilities when it comes to making and enjoying beer.
Hardest thing about the job? For me the hardest thing about the job is really just the physical labor.  We make all of our beer by hand, without any fancy automated equipment. We do all of the heavy lifting ourselves. It's just me and my part-time assistant.  Brewing a batch of beer can be exhausting! But always worth the trouble in the end.

Why is Philly such a great area for beer? What makes it special? I'm not so sure what originally made Philly so great for beer. Perhaps the early brewing industry that once survived here, the fact that Philadelphia is a real multi-cultural melting pot, or the fact the people in Philadelphia LOVE great food and restaurants. What I do know is that right now Philly is special because we really have it all when it comes to beer—we have numerous award-winning breweries at our doorstep, some of the best bars in the country, and some of the best beer availability anywhere in the world due to our distributors and wholesalers. That all makes for one special beer city.

Name: Chris Wilson
Title: Head Brewer
Brewery: Weyerbacher Brewing Company


How many years have you been brewing? Six for Weyerbacher plus another two
What is your favorite beer that you brew? The new one!
What is your favorite beer that you don’t brew? Changes with the wind… Had a Kolsch from French Broad in NC that was awesome!
What will be the new trend in brewing/beer? I am not sure, but I hope that it is in front of us and not behind. I hear a lot of talk about the “big beers” losing their intrigue. I don’t agree, but I hope that that doesn’t mean we all go back to making the old ones. I will be happy as long as we are moving forward.
New hot ingredient? Not new, but new to us: Chamomile. We just used it for the first time in Kilo, our saison released in conjunction with PBW.
What's your favorite ingredient?  Malt, I use it in all my brews!
Anything you refuse to brew/use? The short answer is no. I believe that there is a place for almost any ingredient. The long answer is just boring so I’ll skip it.
Do you have an epiphany beer? Or something that made you want to start brewing? No epiphany beer, but it took getting laid off to point me in the direction of brewing. It makes the reduction in salary from your old life easier to live with when you have spent a year on unemployment.
Hardest thing about the job? Making time for events.
Why is Philly such a great area for beer? What makes it special? An educated population and great local breweries. I am not sure which is the chicken and which is the egg, but you have great breweries making great beer and a local population that appreciates them.

 

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