Yesterday was the ground-breaking live webcast discussion with Greg Koch from Stone Brewing and Sam Calagione from Dogfish Head moderated by TV’s Wil Wheaton (unfortunately Bill from Victory Brewing had technical difficulties and was unable to join the discussion save for some text messages he sent to Greg).
Missed the live webcast? You can watch the hour-long discussion covering the genesis of Saison du BUFF, home brewing, collaboration culture in the craft beer industry, and some patented Greg Koch rants. Or read on for some highlights and commentary!
The two brewers and Wil, who’s an avid home brewer, friend of Stone’s, and geek-icon, sat down with all three versions of the Saison du BUFF collaboration beer with the intent to taste and discuss the beer and to answer some questions from viewers.
Greg starts off discussing the origins of the “Brewers United for Freedom of Flavor,” an advocacy group with the mission to spread the word about craft beer back in 2002, long before the ground-swell of support that the industry has seen in recent years. Greg mentions the “fiery manifesto” that the group published, and you can take a look at that here.
At about the 8:40 mark Greg tackles the recent news of Rogue Brewing’s plan to use a strain of yeast harvested from their brewmaster’s beard. Greg, who has been sporting a monstrous beard himself for a couple of years, has a great reaction to people questioning how Stone will respond to Rogue’s interesting plan.
At around 13:00 the discussion turns to the collaboration culture prevalent in the craft beer industry and Wil asks the guys why collaborations are not attempted by the industrial macro-brewers. Greg’s ranty answer about the commodification of beer is one of the highlights of the discussion!
The trio spends some time discussing the flavors of the Saison du BUFF when they open the Victory version at the 22:20 mark, and then the discussion turns towards the actual method of brewing with fresh herbs. (There is also a brief detour in the discussion where Pasadena’s Craftsman Brewery get a mention and words of adoration from Greg and Sam. It was good to hear one of the unsung greats of the LA craft beer world getting some recognition!)
At 31:28 the first question for Twitter is posed by Wil, and it on the specific process for home brewing with herbs. The brewers suggest adding the whole herbs at the very end of the boil. Wil follows up by asking about the actual recipe, and the brewers agree to release the home-brew version of the Saison du BUFF recipe on the Stone website! (*Update 9/14/12* Stone has made-good, and they posed the recipe here!)
The second fan question, at 42:00, asks when the first beer was that opened their eyes to craft beer. Wil’s was a Rogue Red Ale in 1991, Sam’s was the one-two punch of a Chimay Red and a Sierra Nevada Celebration, while Greg’s was Anchor Steam in a LA dive bar in 1987.
Greg’s answer to question number three, if Stone would ever consider making a less agressive and more crowd-pleasing beer is worth a watch.
Question four goes into more specifics about home brewing and how to advance your skills; it was great to hear LA’s local home brew retailer, Eagle Rock Brew Supply, get a shout-out by Wil.
The discussion wrapped up with question five, which was actually one of the several questions that I submitted to the panel: “What is the best way to break into the craft beer industry?” I had intended the question to be a little more general though Wil spun it towards the home brewing side. The answers from Greg and Sam were great though, and they ended the discussion promising to set-up another Hangout.
Overall, I think the Hangout was really fun and interesting. It is really great to see two of the biggest characters in the craft beer industry on such an intimate level. On several occasions Wil steers the discussion towards home brewing, and his excitement and enthusiasm for the subject is obvious. We wish the discussion had hewed a little closer to the commercial brewers experience, but we certainly can’t fault Wil for taking an opportunity to question his heroes on a topic close to his heart. If you are a home brewer then we definitely recommend watching the full hour!
Even if you’re just a casual fan of the breweries the charisma and energy of Sam and Greg are obvious and contagious. It is easy to see how these two pillars of the craft beer industry have achieved success. They believe in what they are doing, and they have the power to instil that belief into others around them!
Did you catch the Hangout? What did you think about the format and the quality of discussion?