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Brick West head brewer Sam Milne is fanatical about process and technique, and it’s this love of fine tuning small details that stoked his love of brewing lagers years ago. After moving up the ranks at Kulshan Brewing in Bellingham, Washington, he received a full scholarship from the Glen Hay Falconer Foundation to study at the World Academy of Brewing at the Siebel Institute (Chicago) and Doemans Academy (Munich)—an experience that cemented this passion for lagers. He then returned to the states to join and help launch Brick West. They’ve thrown out the typical modern playbook and focused intently on German-style beers like pilsner, helles, hefeweizen, and gose (along with a smattering of West Coast IPAs that nod to their proximity to hops-growing regions in Yakima to their west and Idaho to their east).
In this conversation, Milne gets into the details that make their beers interesting despite their simplicity, such as:
- deriving complexity from simple malt bills
- carefully tuning mash protocols to achieve finishing gravities that will accentuate the best character of the beer
- pH-testing mash conversion at each step, so as not to linger longer than necessary
- managing whirlpool temperatures to achieve proper aroma and bitterness
- cone-to-cone pitching for lower yeast stress
- kräusening and spunding for quality carbonation
- and avoiding pumps, to minimize oxygen pickup through the brewing and packaging process
Milne’s respect for tradition is paramount, but he pairs that with a tinkerer’s mentality of always finding small ways to make things a little better. This episode explores those small things that can have big impact on finished beers.
This episode is brought to you by:
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