Podcast Episode 187: Chuckanut’s Mari and Will Kemper Approach Lagers with Scientific Precision and Creative Spark

Years before craft lager became trendy, Washington state’s Chuckanut was the little lager brewery that could. Here, the Kempers discuss the best ways to tightly control lager brewing on a small scale for highest quality.

Jamie Bogner May 18, 2021 - 6 min read

Podcast Episode 187: Chuckanut’s Mari and Will Kemper Approach Lagers with Scientific Precision and Creative Spark Primary Image

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Mari and Will Kemper love lagers, but the locals haven’t always loved those lagers back. When they returned to the Pacific Northwest and opened the doors to Chuckanut Brewery in Bellingham, Washington, in 2009, craft drinkers at the time wondered why they didn’t just make IPAs like everyone else. But they had a focus and determination to brew the finest lagers they could, despite their small size. Twenty-four GABF medals later, their approach has been validated many times over.

In this episode, the Kempers discuss:

  • Building a brewhouse and developing the ideal process for lager brewing
  • Optimizing the mash routine for full attenuation
  • Treating beer with sensitivity, and reducing stresses throughout the brewing process by reducing transfers
  • Taking a size-specific approach to brewing and fermentation
  • Asymmetric boil heating and better whirlpooling
  • Producing great lagers in cylindroconical unitanks
  • Cropping yeast from the middle of the tank
  • Extremely slow crashing with automated temperature control
  • Lager filtration
  • Spunding and finishing lagers

And more.

A chemical engineer in his pre-brewing days, Will Kemper tackles brewhouse problems with an analytical gaze, dissecting and understanding the purpose before building a process. Here, he offers a glimpse into that clever problem-solving approach. The locals today love and embrace their lagers, and a new generation of lager brewers have trained under the Kempers’ tutelage. But the Kempers aren’t resting on their laurels—there are more lagers to brew, and more minds to change.

This episode is brought to you by:

G&D Chillers – As the brewing industry’s premier choice for glycol chilling, G&D Chillers has set the standard on quality, service, reliability and dedication to their customer’s craft. New this year, Redundancy meets Efficiency! G&D’s Micro-Channel Condensers are built with all aluminum construction which eliminates galvanic corrosion. Using half the refrigerant of conventional condensers with fewer brazed connections, translates to a lower GWP and less opportunity for leaks. Call G&D Chillers today to discuss your project or reach out directly at GDChillers.com

This episode is brought to you by BSG Hop Solutions. Meet the latest in the BSG Hop solutions portfolio, Citiva. Strong expressions of stone fruit, floral, and resinous/pine flavors and aromas define this blend, crafted specifically for use in hazy IPAs, and other hop-forward beers. Citiva is ideal for aroma, whirlpool, and dry hop additions to Hazy and Juicy IPAs, or for any other hoppy styles where a combination of citrus, tropical fruit, and pine aromatics are desired. Go to bsgcraftbrewing.com to learn more, or call 1-800-374-2739.

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