Podcast Episode 142: Drekker's Mark Bjornstad on Balancing Tart, Thick, Envelope-Pushing Fruit-Smoothie Ales

Mark Bjornstad, cofounder of Drekker Brewing in Fargo, North Dakota, talks about the ingredients, process, and approach behind their thick, jammy, fruit-smoothie-like beers.

Jamie Bogner Jul 3, 2020

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Drekker Brewing in Fargo, North Dakota, has grabbed the attention of enthusiasts across the country with funky, smoothie-thick, highly fruited beers such as their Chonk and Braaaaaaaains series.

Here, Mark Bjornstad, the brewery's president and cofounder—not to mention, part-time nurse anesthetist—talks about building maximum character and body into those beers while maintaining balance via acidity, sweetness, mouthfeel, and strength. He also discusses careful selection of Lactobacillus strains for complexity, acidity, and souring time, to prepare the wort for large additions of fruit, hops, lactose, and other flavorings.

Drekker's flagship Irish red, Broken Rudder, is popular locally, but is now contract-brewed so that they can focus on the weirder stuff in their own brewhouse. That's the evolution of their original plan to win the trust of local drinkers while gradually rolling out weirder beers.

"If we could get people into these beers, and we could introduce them into what craft beer was and what style diversity was, then they might trust us—and then we might try some weird things. ... We could immediately challenge them on what beer could be."

"When we were coming up with those things, we were scared—whether they were going to be too weird, whether anyone would follow us with this," Bjornstad says. "Now that I look back at it, those are some of the tamest things we do now, what we thought was crazy 10 years ago."

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

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