Podcast Episode 231: Cameron Owen of The Eighth State Can’t Afford to be Average

At The Eighth State in Greenville, South Carolina, cofounder and head brewer Cameron Owen is employing a careful culinary approach to create unexpected layers of complexity in fruit beers and ingredient-laden stouts and barleywines.

Jamie Bogner Mar 26, 2022 - 6 min read

Podcast Episode 231: Cameron Owen of The Eighth State Can’t Afford to be Average Primary Image

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The Eighth State is small—very small. The three-barrel, open-vessel brewhouse sits adjacent to the taproom, with brewing gear spilling over on days when they’re not open. Barrels are packed into every inch of unused space, while an assortment of plants help to create a more comfortable vibe in the small ground-floor space. It feels cluttered yet relaxed—in that way that suggests that creative minds are at work—and cofounder/head brewer Cameron Owen is determined to have some serious fun.

This tiny brewery has earned an outsized reputation for their flavorful beers—from tart fruit beers to ingredient-heavy barrel-aged stouts. Despite the limited capacity, Owens is committed to doing things his way—even if that means more tank time and slower turns—to get the exact flavors he wants.

In this episode of the podcast, focused on tart fruit beers and ingredient-laden stouts, he discusses:

  • using a solera process with Lacto and Sacch cultures to create the base for fruit beers
  • packing tart fruit sours with live cultures, but including sulfites to prevent refermentation
  • achieving “wild” flavors and minimizing sulfur expression without Brettanomyces
  • making complex beers more accessible to customers
  • blending fruits for contrast and juxtaposition, finding counter-notes while creating tension
  • achieving vegan-friendly results without lactose
  • building multiple layers of flavor in big barrel-aged beers
  • adjusting the multi-day brew schedule for bigger beers, to aid fermentation
  • using a two-step process for certain ingredient additions, to increase impact

And more.

At The Eight State, their goal is to stand out. They want to be exclusive but not impossible to get. Most importantly, for a brewery their size, they aim to keep excitement high and keep people coming through that door. As Owens says, “I really can’t afford to just be average.”

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].