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Old 08-18-2011, 08:52 PM   #1
jfowler1
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Default A long talk with a long time Pro

Last weekend, my dad and I stopped for lunch at Artisan's in Toms River, NJ. As we were walking in, I spotted their brewer, Dave Hoffman (who also has his own NJ brewery - Climax) outside taking a break. I introduced myself and just mentioned I was a big fan of the Climax product. We chatted for a minute or two about what he currently had on tap at Artisan's and we went in to eat.

After lunch, Dave tracked me down at my table and we talked a bit about the beers I tried. Naturally, I started steering the discussion toward hombrewing, and Dave kind of lit up. He wound up spending almost a half hour with us. He and I talked yeast, hops, and his philosophy about the need for balance and a respect for classic styles - philosophies that would be obvious to anyone familar with the Climax beer line-up.

He also shared some good stories about meeting Michael Jackson (Climax is the only NJ brewery to appear in a MJ book) and told me about the time Jim Koch knocked on his brewery door. I had to break up the conversation and explain to my dad that MJ is not the singer he is familar with - same name; different guy (the confused look went away).

I really thought it was informative to speak so openly with such a well regarded brewer. You don't get access to someone like that every day.

Has anyone had a similar exchange with someone from the pro brewing community?


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Old 08-18-2011, 09:24 PM   #2
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Every time I'm in the position to I feel like they don't take me seriously. I may meet someone and I mention homebrewing and they go "eh". It might be the fact that I'm only 22 and look 17 though.


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Old 08-18-2011, 09:55 PM   #3
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I noticed that a lot of big brewers don't like talking homebrew. Most likely because so many homebrewers think they know more than the guy that does it for a living and tries to show off with their knowledge rather than having a regular conversation about it.

That is great you were able to enjoy his company!
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Old 08-18-2011, 10:05 PM   #4
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Start telling a poker pro a bad beat story, and you'll get exactly the same reaction as a homebrewer talking homebrew with a professional brewer. Its generally a matter of exposure, I think.
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Old 08-18-2011, 10:16 PM   #5
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I've had several really good discussions with pro brewers, either on a tour of their brewery or just chilling in the tasting room having a pint and striking up a conversation. If neither party approaches the conversation with an ego, and you're legitimately trying to have a good conversation, it tends to work really well. Doesn't always happen, I'm sure, but I've had some very good talks with the pro brewers I've met.

Sounds like the conversation you had was pretty informative, that always makes a huge difference, and doesn't leave you thinking poorly of them/their brewery.
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Old 08-19-2011, 02:06 PM   #6
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Went down to one of the Gordon Biersch locations in Virginia Beach and spent half an hour with their brewmaster, Allen.

Really, really great guy. Great conversation. Thoroughly enjoyed their beer,too. Their Märzen is a killer and their Schwarzbier is delicious!
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Old 08-19-2011, 03:18 PM   #7
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I met Tim Herzog at Flying Bison Brewery in Buffalo, NY last weekend, and he was more than happy to talk homebrewing with me, because those were his roots. He basically talked his SWMBO into letting him homebrew for a living, and 20 years later he has his own regional brewery putting out 5000 barrels a year. Good stuff!
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Old 08-19-2011, 11:20 PM   #8
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I've been lucky enough to meet many brewers and talk shop. I belong to 2 local homebrew clubs, and we often go on "out" meetings to local breweries. Most of the time, we get a tour of the brewery from the head brewer and get to pick their brains on all sorts of stuff. In fact, I just went to Hair of the Dog last night http://www.hairofthedog.com/, and we got a tour from the owner/head brewer Alan Sprints, who shared some of his beer "Michael" which he had brewed in 2007 and had been aging since then. Prior to that, we had a tour of the Widmer brewery in July led by one of the brewers there. My experience has been that brewers are very friendly and love talking about beer, especially to other people that understand the brewing process and show an interest in their work. Most of the brewers in my area have strong ties to the homebrew community.
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Old 08-19-2011, 11:44 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rundownhouse View Post
Start telling a poker pro a bad beat story, and you'll get exactly the same reaction as a homebrewer talking homebrew with a professional brewer. Its generally a matter of exposure, I think.
As somebody who made a living playing poker for nearly a decade let me say this is dead on. This makes me think differently about the way I'll talk to brewers.

Although beer seems like it wouldn't get nearly as stale as poker. There's so much more room for experimentation and new things. A poker pro is almost always sick of poker. A brewer may not be quite so sick of his profession.
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Old 08-19-2011, 11:50 PM   #10
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I've had mixed reviews whilst volunteering at local breweries, some like chatting about it and similarities and ideas, others tend to look down on it and seem to be a little insulting in the way they talk about it to be honest.


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