Podcast Episode 154: Jake Gardner of Westbound & Down Tackles Complex Brewing Challenges

From West Coast-style IPA to barleywine, Jake Gardner shares his strategies for making flavorful beer, by solving the technical puzzles posed by how people drink it.

Jamie Bogner Oct 2, 2020 - 6 min read

Podcast Episode 154: Jake Gardner of Westbound & Down Tackles Complex Brewing Challenges Primary Image

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For Jake Gardner, head brewer of Westbound & Down in Idaho Springs, Colorado, brewing means defining goals for a beer and mapping out the way to achieve those goals—naming the challenges and articulating solutions at each step of the process. Proceeding in a thoroughly planned and detailed manner brings clarity to the process, and this methodical approach has served Gardner well over his past decade in professional brewing.

Gardner’s patience and approach was rewarded in 2019 with a silver medal in the Great American Beer Festival's hotly contested Imperial IPA category. But the Westbound & Down approach is anything but conventional—with English yeast strains and specific bittering hops that scrub off the palate quickly, the brewery has carved out a soft and fruity yet bright and tightly controlled niche in the broader world of West Coast IPA. They continue to expand that niche with creative explorations of contemporary hops, yeast experimentation, and focusing on the minutiae of brewing that make a big impact on the finished beer.

In the barleywine category, Gardner calls upon prior experience brewing English-style ales at Hogshead in Denver, and he discusses the various design concerns for these barrel-aged beers designed for aging. From managing free amino nitrogen to double-mashing and dialing back oxidative malts, Gardner discusses the ways they’ve built their medal-winning Louie barleywine—its Double Barrel version also won silver at GABF—to taste great not only when fresh, but also with a few years under its belt, as it ages and oxidizes with grace.

This episode is brought to you by:

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BSG is partnering with Leopold Bros. to bring a new line of small-batch, handmade malts to brewers and distillers. Leopold Bros. is a family owned floor malting operation and distillery and 2020 James Beard Award Finalist, located in Denver, Colorado. Since brothers Scott and Todd Leopold first opened their doors in 1999, they have created everything from classic unfiltered lagers to a number of spirits, including a wide array of whiskey styles. Learn more about the upcoming malt line by going online to BSGCraftbrewing.com, or contact BSG at 1.800.374.2739

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ABS Commercial is excited to be a part of today’s Podcast! ABS is a full brewery outfitter offering brewhouses, tanks, keg washers and small parts. ABS wanted to do something fun for the craft beer industry, so they are giving away an ABS Keg Viking Keg Washer LIVE on December 5th, which happens to be national repeal day. To enter, go to www.abs-commercial.com, click on “Keg Viking” page and fill out the contest form for your chance to win!

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