Podcast Episode 164: It's Funk First for Shawn Johnson and New-Old School Birds Fly South

Birds Fly South’s Shawn Johnson loves the funky farmhouse ale tradition—so much so that he and wife Lindsay have dedicated their brewery to it. But that embrace of tradition doesn’t exclude exploring modern approaches to these rustic styles.

Jamie Bogner Dec 13, 2020 - 5 min read

Podcast Episode 164: It's Funk First for Shawn Johnson and New-Old School Birds Fly South Primary Image

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Shawn Johnson of Birds Fly South dreams about brewing. In fact, their solera system for fermenting farmhouse beers came to him one night in a vision of sorts—as Jolly Pumpkin’s Ron Jeffries appeared in a dream with a command to “keep the beer moving.” Funk is always on Johnson’s mind, awake or asleep, and five years in, the brewery continues to adhere to their mantra of “Funk First!”

In this episode, Johnson discusses:
- Developing and managing their house culture
- Maintaining the balance between Brett and Sacch expression in the culture
- How different grist bills and mash processes affect the expression of the culture
- Pushing higher bitterness (25-35 IBUs) in mixed-culture beers
- Using hyped hops in farmhouse beers as a bridge to today’s drinkers
- Embracing a bit of lightstruck character by using green bottles
- Brewing for different barrel-aging strategies
- Exploring flavors in barrel-aged stouts with Belgian yeasts

Brewing today means balancing one’s creative vision with consumer demand, educating drinkers, and creating a market rather than simply creating products for an existing one. Birds Fly South has stuck to their guns, building a bridge between classic expression and modern innovation.

This episode is brought to you by:

G&D Chillers: Nearly 2,000 breweries across the US, Canada, and Mexico partner with G&D Chillers. Innovative, modular designs and no proprietary parts propel G&D ahead as the premier choice for your glycol chilling needs. Breweries you recognize, like Russian River, Ninkasi, Jacks Abby, Samuel Adams, and more, trust G&D to chill the beer you love! Call G&D Chillers to discuss your project today, or reach out directly at Gdchillers.com

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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, and gave away an ABS Keg Viking Keg Washer LIVE this past December 7th. Congratulations to Lazy Horse Brewing & Winery in Nebraska who are the new proud owners of a Keg Viking! To make sure you’re on the list for future giveaways, go to www.abs-commercial.com, click on the “Keg Viking” page, and fill out the contact form to stay in the know!

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