Podcast Episode 221: Jan Chodkowski of Our Mutual Friend Embraces Both the Bold and the Sublime

For Denver’s Our Mutual Friend, subtle tweaks and improvements over years of brewing have brought their hoppy beers into medal-winning form, but the big and brash flavors in their smoked beers showcase their penchant for dramatic statements.

Jamie Bogner Jan 19, 2022 - 6 min read

Podcast Episode 221: Jan Chodkowski of Our Mutual Friend Embraces Both the Bold and the Sublime Primary Image

Pictured: Brandon Proff (left) and Jan Chodkowski (right) of Our Mutual Friend.

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Denver’s Our Mutual Friend might be better known in brewing circles for their commitment to mixed-culture beers, but ask head brewer Jan Chodkowski, and he’ll admit to being a hophead. It’s no surprise, then, that the case of “palmares” on the brewery wall showcasing their GABF, World Beer Cup, and Craft Beer & Brewing awards is evenly split between funky farmhouse takes such as Saison Trystero and hoppy beers such as Inner Light, their Australian-style pale ale. However, their interest in experimentation doesn’t end there, and they’ve found an enduring customer base that goes along for the ride as they regularly play in polarizing styles such as smoked beer.

In this episode, Chodkowski discusses how they “toss customers into the deep end” with brash but deeply respectful takes on the farmhouse oeuvre from Northern Norway (such as their recent Stjørdalsøl dark smoked beer), a vast array of beers made with a variety of different mixed cultures, and a commitment to ingredient sourcing that informs everything they make.

Chodkowski specifically addresses:

  • Using alder wood to custom-kiln and smoke malt
  • Mixing smoked malts for depth in smoked beer
  • The impact of malt more than yeast in smoked farmhouse beer
  • Shifting to pils malt to let hops shine
  • Dry hopping just before terminal for brightness and polish
  • Evaluating and adjusting beers as regular practice
  • Fermenting colder with Chico yeast
  • Using various Brett strains to build layers of flavor
  • Using multiple commercial mixed-culture pitches for diverse blending stock, rather than a house culture
  • Using aged hops in farmhouse beers

And more.

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This episode brought to you by BSG and Rahr Malting Co., the home of fossil-free malt. Rahr’s headquarters in Shakopee, Minnesota is powered by renewable electricity. Malthouses and kilns are fed by an electrostatic boiler fueled by agricultural byproducts, much of which is waste from the malting process. By eliminating the use of natural gas, Rahr Malting Co. reduces CO2 emissions by 260,000 tons per year while filling 25% of the US brewing industry’s malt needs. Put the power of Rahr Malt in your beer at go.bsgcraft.com/Contact-Us

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