Pre-brew Interview with Brian Strumke of Stillwater Artisanal

January 4th, 2012

1.  What is it about beer that appeals to you as a consumer?

What I really dig about beer is that it is a product of artistry & agriculture and like many industries, it also represents the the sum of collective work. From the farmers, to the maltster, brewer and even retailer. It is an industry that pulls together to create a product that is designed for enjoyment.

2.  Why do you brew beer?

I consider myself more of an artist then anything else in life. I spent about a decade in the music industry and after deciding to move on, my obsessive nature gravitated to brewing. I view my beers as conceptual works that represent ideas and are inspired by events, people, or places. It is my way of expressing my thoughts and feelings.

3.  How do you design your recipes?

I work very visually in a sort of synesthesia like process. When forming a recipe I see different aspects of the beer as colors in a linear fashion. When all the elements match up and look right in my head, then it’s ready for production.

4.  How do you feel about the provenance of your ingredients?  How does this relate (or not relate) to the location where you brew?

I will admit that I don’t stress the provenance of ingredients unless I am specifically trying to capture the terroir of the area that I am brewing. What is paramount to me in crafting a beer is achieving my vision and a yielding quality product in the end.

5.  I’ve asked you to brew a beer that you could drink every day for the rest of your life.  Please explain your emotional response to that, but also practically, if this is something you believe you can do.  In your mind, what makes a consumable product so classic that it could be enjoyed this regularly?

I enjoy beer greatly but like most, my cravings change depending on mood, season, etc. So for designing my table beer I had to balance all my imbibing desires into a product that would always quench my thirst. I compiled some of my favorite attributes into a format that would be pleasing on any day or time. Low abv, dry finish with a light funky yeast esters that are accented with a abundance of earthy & fruity hops. Balance is always the goal, but for this I also wanted extreme quaff-ability, refreshment, and subtle complexity.. Classic? perhaps.

6.  What other goods or routines are part of your every day experience?  Why?

I also am a huge coffee fan, and lately cold brewed iced coffee could almost be considered an addiction with me. I love the flavor and complexity you can get from different roasts and beans and the cold brewing process allows the coffee to shine without pulling excess tannins that can distract from the subtle flavors.