If you’re a craft beer enthusiast, you’ve likely tasted their brews at some point over the last few years. Now, learn a little bit more about the people who are behind those beverages in the Tribune’s new “Getting to Know Your Brewer” feature.
This periodic Tribune Brews News page feature will highlight some of the local brewmasters who are in charge of coming up with the beer at some of the area’s popular breweries.
Kyle Miller – Odd Side Ales
How long have you been in the industry? About 7 years
How did you get started in the industry? It all started home brewing with the owner of Odd Side Ales, Chris Michner, while at MSU. After graduation, Chris decided he wanted to try starting a brewery, and asked if I would be interested in helping out. I started out bartending and brewing, and soon took on the position of head brewer. Now I head up the brewing, and run our quality control program.
How is your beer connected to the local area? We always try to find ways that we can connect with local businesses and individuals. We try to utilize local sources when possible for ingredients in our recipes. Currently we are also working alongside a few local restaurants that incorporate our beers into their recipes. Our mug club mugs are handled for us through a local pottery shop, and we give all of our spent grain to a local farmer.
What’s unique about the beers you create? We are always on the lookout for new and unexpected ingredients to incorporate into our recipes, and for ways to use classic ingredients in unorthodox styles. From using coffee in a blonde ale, to putting peanut butter in our beers, so long as the ingredients add to the overall experience, nothing is too out there to at least try once.
What do you enjoy most about your job? I really enjoy the freedom we have to come up with new, fun ideas. While it is important for us to keep up with demand for our core beers, a big part of our business model is to take chances on strange ingredients or little known styles. It gives us a unique opportunity to really flex our creative muscles and have fun with what we do.
What style of beer is your personal favorite? I tend to find myself going for a nice hoppy IPA most of the time, but anything barrel aged is close to my heart.
Jim Goodburn – Grand Armory Brewing Co.
How long have you been in the industry? Two years How did you get started in the industry? I started home brewing with my friends (Ryan Andrews, Jesse Frifeldt and Ben Tabor) and we decided to go pro. Ryan and Ben were in the works of starting the Armory and were in need of a head brewer. Our personalities all mesh so well, it didn’t take long before things just fell into place.
How is your beer connected to the local area? We try to incorporate as many local landmarks in the names of our beers as possible. We also try to use as many local ingredients as we can get. Our harvest ale this year used hops grown in Grand Haven from Chittenden Farms. Our spent grain goes to a local farmer for his livestock. We’re proud members of the Chamber of Commerce. We take great pride in being from Michigan and specifically West Michigan so we try to make sure that shows in everything we do.
What’s unique about the beers you create? The most unique thing about the beers we create is the variety we provide. We offer traditional ales and stouts along with fruit beers and specialty releases whenever possible. We’re never afraid to try new things.
What do you enjoy most about your job? I am living my dream. Every day I get to wake up and go to work with my friends in an industry that enjoys boundless camaraderie. I have yet to find a fellow brewer that I flat out didn’t like. The long hours and hard work only add to the sense of accomplishment you feel when you see the taproom packed with people drinking beers that you made. Some people have to go to work every day for years in a job that they hate. I go to work every day and make beer.
What style of beer is your personal favorite? This is the toughest question. It’s like choosing your favorite child (not that it’s hard, just that it’s always changing). I waffle back and forth between hefeweizens and saisons, but I tend to gravitate more toward beers that have a yeasty flavor profile. But really, I’ll drink it all as long as it’s cold (or cellar temp if it’s to style).