Saturday, December 19, 2009


Sorry to be so long without an update. After a beautiful summer working as a plumber and saving up some cash, I found a job that is a perfect fit. Shanna and I moved to Bellingham, Washington and I joined Chuckanut Brewery and Kitchen.

During the summer I made trips to the brewery to drop off my resume and talk with their brewer Josh. He showed me the impressive setup that brewmaster Will Kemper engineered and talked about how precise their beer could be. Whether it is pitching temperature, mashing temp or fermentation, the guys at Chuckanut had it dialed to the 1/10 of a degree. It's no wonder that they got Small Brewpub of the Year at GABF after their first time entering.

Will has been making beer for over twenty-five years. He started the Thomas Kemper Brewery in '86 and moved on to help engineer breweries across the country. He's worked at Dock Street in Philly, Capital Brewing in D.C., Aviator, a brewery in Mexico, and just recently, the first brewpub in Istanbul and more. Will also taught engineering at American Brewers Guild and is a great teacher. If you get the chance to meet Will, you'll know what I mean. Ask him any question about beer and you'll learn something. Most of the time, you'll learn more than you bargained for. It's one of the reasons I am so excited about working here. Continuing my education after school is important to me and I was afraid of being locked in a brewery job that did not push to make better product, which if you're in the industry, is so many breweries.

Chuckanut is a German lager and English ale company. They won two golds and two silvers at the GABF all in lager (Dunkel, Vienna and German Pils, Schwartzbier). That hasn't been done by a small brewpub. In a time where whatever is overly hopped, oak-aged or boozy with alcohol wins all the attention, I find it relieving that well made 5% drinkable beer could win. It might be considered radical for a small brewery to make tasty lagers and no IPAs. I thought the industry was shifting, and it probably is, but at least I know some people still appreciate delicate flavor. Those that know me know my love for well crafted lager beer and the move to Chuckanut seemed natural. But indeed, I'm lucky.

During my few talks with Josh at Chuckanut over the summer I got the impression that they would be expanding their capacity soon and would be looking for an assistant brewer. That was the time I was calling, emailing, sending my resume and just plain showing up. I got the call from Will in October asking if I was still interested in becoming a brewer. "Oh yeah!" When I went up for the interview, he informed me that sadly, Josh was leaving to work at Full Sail. So although I did replace Josh, there is no replacing Josh. He is a great guy and very methodical in the brew house. The most anal-retentive ski-bum I've met. I wish I could have learned more from him. Josh has a wife, a three-year-old and a newborn to care for and Full Sail offered him a better opportunity.

So I'll be keeping this blog updated with info about beer, it's market, how it's made and any questions anyone might ask. Hope you enjoy.