Podcast Episode 138: Jeremy Tofte of Melvin Learns From Mistakes and Focuses on Improvement

The last few years have been the best of times and the worst of times for Wyoming-based Melvin Brewing. While the beer has never been better, a series of unforced errors rocked the party atmosphere that the brewery has always striven to project.

Jamie Bogner Jun 7, 2020

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Dickens’ opening paragraph for “A Tale of Two Cities” provides an appropriate metaphor for the past few years of Melvin Brewing’s existence—best and worst, wisdom and foolishness, belief and incredulity, light and darkness, despair and hope. The highs have been sky-high, with eight GABF medals (six gold), four World Beer Cup medals (two gold), and two first- and one second-place finish in the Alpha King challenge. But the lows have been equally low—a high-profile incident in Bellingham, Washington, that led to the closure of the expansion brewpub, and the closure of their second expansion brewpub in San Diego.

Rather than throw in the towel, founder Jeremy Tofte paused the party and dove into problem-solving mode, knowing that the way the company had been cast didn’t reflect the values he and the staff held. Today’s Melvin still loves to have fun, but is more self-conscious and aware, more disciplined, and lets their values set the pace.

The impact of Melvin on the IPA style has been significant—their early use of whirlpool hopping and copious dry-hopping were once considered absurd by fellow brewers. They are now de rigueur and a core element of today’s hazy and soft IPA. Here, Tofte recounts that innovation process that led them to exploring new techniques to achieve flavors outside of the mainstream. Along the way, he discusses the parameters they change and the ones they keep consistent, the impact of mash temp on recipe scaling, pushing the brewing team to embrace hazy beers, and designing beers for a national palate while still retaining the soul of Melvin.

Today, Melvin is a better company for the challenges they’ve been through, and they continue to deliver innovative beer for excited drinkers.

This episode is brought to you by:

G&D
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Old Orchard supplies craft juice blends from the heart of Beer City USA. As the industry blending experts, they supply major national brands and growing breweries alike. They've been the best-kept juicy secret in craft beverage for years, but now the secret's out. Breweries across the board are experiencing a seamless transition to Old Orchard as their new juice supplier. So hop aboard the Old Orchard fruit train; their sample kit starter pack is waiting for you at www.oldorchard.com/brewer.

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This episode is brought to you by Hopsteiner–your premium hop supplier dedicated to delivering quality hops and hop products in every package. Visit Hopsteiner.com for a complete list of offerings or select “shop hops” to start ordering today.

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This episode is brought to you by Brewers Publications, publishers of “Historical Brewing Techniques: The Lost Art of Farmhouse Brewing” by Lars Marius Garshol. Equal parts history, cultural anthropology, social science, and travelogue, “Historical Brewing Techniques” describes Northern European farmhouse brewing and fermentation methods that are vastly different from modern craft brewing. Order your copy of Historical Brewing Techniques today at BrewersPublications.com.

Jamie Bogner is the Cofounder and Editorial Director of Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine®. Email him at [email protected].

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