Podcast Episode 196: Kevin Ashford of Figueroa Mountain Does More by Using Less

Over the past decade, Figueroa Mountain has won 25 GABF medals by focusing on exquisitely crafted, broadly traditional ales and lagers. Brewmaster Kevin Ashford spares no beer in the push for further improvement—even those that’ve won multiple medals.

Jamie Bogner Jul 18, 2021 - 5 min read

Podcast Episode 196: Kevin Ashford of Figueroa Mountain Does More by Using Less Primary Image

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For Kevin Ashford, brewmaster of Figueroa Mountain Brewing in Buellton, California, every beer can always be improved. After winning two medals for their Danish Red Lager, Ashford and team made the difficult decisions to simplify the malt bill, dry it out a touch, and add a decoction step—significant moves for a beer that had a following and had wowed judges. But for Ashford, truly great beers are created through a process of subtraction—iterating and eliminating anything that doesn’t need to be there, while using all the tools in the brewing playbook to maximize the expression in what’s left.

In this episode of the podcast, Ashford shares his optimization strategies, primarily in the lager realm. These include:

  • Decocting Mexican-style lager to build malt character and create “weight” in light lagers
  • Using Contessa hops for a classic but fresh feel
  • Employing multiple lager yeast strains in the production brewhouse
  • Cellaring with a combo of cylindroconical fermenters and brite tanks to optimize clarity
  • Understanding the importance of time in lager brewing
  • Using contemporary hops like El Dorado and Strata in lagers
  • The benefit of cold fermentation on retaining hop aromas

And more.

This episode is brought to you by:

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