When I heard that a senior brewmaster from the Samuel Adams Brewery had packed up his kettle to be part of an outpost in Granbury, I was surprised and excited. Then, after tasting the results of Grant Wood's move, namely in the form of Blood and Honey, I had an epiphany: North Texas is a legitimate craft brewing market of increasing strength and stature. And, then I Google-mapped Granbury to see exactly how far of a drive it is: one hour 19 minutes without traffic.
As part of an ongoing series of interviews with local brewers, we asked Wood to ponder a few questions about life with beer. Here's what we learned from the beardless brewer.
What's the greatest misconception about being a brewer? Well, that we drink ... all the time. Not true. We taste all the time. Also, people seem to think that we all have beards and tattoos. Not true. I couldn't grow a decent beard if you held a gun to my head.
In 2010, there were just two local craft breweries. Now there are more than a dozen. Do you think this explosive growth is sustainable? I do think the growth is sustainable, or I wouldn't have left my previous brewing position to come here and build a brewery. There are more craft brewing enthusiasts all the time. A good portion of what we do is educate the beer drinker to appreciate full-flavored local craft beer.
What's in your beer fridge right now? Lessee. I know there are a couple of bottles of Blood and Honey, a 512 Anniversary Stout, a Samuel Adams Stony Brook Red, a bottle of Samuel Adams Summer Ale, and some other odds and ends. People bring beer to my house and they get left in the fridge sometimes. See item number one.
Ever had a colossal brewing mistake? A situation in which you wanted to laugh and cry all at once. Yes, I hold the record for the longest lauter run off at the Genesee Brewing Company in Rochester, New York. 48,000 pounds of malt that went nowhere ... slowly.
Do you have any advice for budding brewers? 1. Learn to clean things. Really learn that. It will save you days of labor over your lifetime.
2. Don't burn bridges. You never know who you will be working for. It's actually a very small beer world.
3. Try to remember it's beer. It's supposed to be fun. If you're not having fun you're doing it wrong. Thanks to Rhonda Kallman for that wisdom.
Have you found any invaluable brewing resources in the form of books, websites or forums? The most useful items have often been notes from brewing courses I have taken. The Scandinavian beer calculator online is also useful for easy calculations of beer analysis.
What's the hardest part of your job, and, at the other end of the spectrum, the best part? The hardest part is that it never really stops. There is always something that needs to be done. The best part is a person telling me how much they like what we're doing down here in Granbury.
Are there any styles, ingredients, trends or brewing processes that you're really excited about right now? I'm trying to find ways to integrate local ingredients and local tastes into my beers. This is not always easy or the results perfect, but it's something I want to bring to the beer. It's not terroir, it's just saying, "This is what good beer tastes like from here."
What's the best beer you've ever had? That is a very tough question. I prefer to think of what are the best beer experiences I have ever had. Today's Top 5, not necessarily in order:
1. A helles, served with Weiss wurst by the nuns at Klosterbrauerei Mallersdorf. Great breakfast.
2. The Kings Ale, served at a dinner at the old Bass brewery in Burton on Trent. The beer was two weeks shy of its 100th birthday.
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3. Sol de Nuit, at Oliver Twist pub in Stockholm. A cloudberry lambic brewed by Cantillon in 1999. Super rare.
4. The first taste of Millennium with Jim Koch in the Boston Brewery.
5. The first Blood and Honey trial brew here in Granbury. The harbinger of things to come.
What's the most ridiculous or far-fetched thing you've ever done to get beer? Fortunately, I have not had to do anything spectacularly ridiculous to get a beer. I did get yelled at by a one-legged woman bar owner in Montana for asking what she had on tap. "Just order a damn beer!" Yes, ma'am!