Brewers are the Chefs you are looking for

These days, turn on your television and you are mere seconds of channel surfing away from finding a cooking show or celebrity chef up to something. We have a fish bowl view, albeit a distorted reality, of the culinary world. For better or worse (mostly better I think) this new found inundation of food culture has turned many into semi-pro cooks, food critics and chef groupies.

I felt it was time to explore where our next wave of culinary leaders would come from. Who within our culinary community would inspire the next food movements? Surprisingly, it was not in the kitchen that I discovered the unsung “Chefs” of our industry, rather it was in the brewhouse with the Brewers! Like the chefs of old, brewers spent countless hours in the ‘back of house’ rarely surfacing long enough to engage with their audience. Once I was able to pry them away from their kettles, it took mere seconds to sense truly kindred spirits in our passions, our unrelenting dedication and our eccentric artist meets mad scientist approach.

Brewers, like chefs, must be confident in their skills yet always remember to keep their creativity from running amuck. We’ve all had a beer (or a dish) where someone should have told them, ‘just because you can doesn’t mean you should’. On the other hand, these brewers are not trying to be cookie cutter mega brands so innovative style, regional tastes, and self-expression need to be embraced. Trve Brewing’s brewer Jason Bailey, hammers these ideas home, in no uncertain terms says, “nobody is going to tell you that this cut of steak across the board from everywhere that this steak comes from tastes exactly the fucking same. If somebody had told you that, they have severely misinformed you, and this person is walking with their head up their ass…our tastes our fundamentally different…they’re tied to our experience.”

A truly great brewer (or chef) must hold great ingredients in the highest regard, apply fundamental technique, then get out of the way and steward them properly along their journey. If you are in the business of creating something delicious then you have to have that child-like enthusiasm for the delicious world around us. Many brewers are adopting a cooks approach to their brewing in this way. Head Brewer Justin Hyde of Epic Brewing tells me about the grassroots beginning of their Utah Sage Saison, “I was in my herb garden, brewing a homebrew in my yard and just started trimming the herbs and throwing them in.” I love hearing about simple moments like this that lead to great culinary staples.

So, the next time you imbibe a craft beer while watching the Food Network, remember that the “Chefs” behind every sip deserve to be celebrated just as feverishly!