Podcast Episode 249: Andy Hooper, Former Seismic Brewmaster, is Taking Light Lager Back for Craft

Andy Hooper built a reputation for tight focus on process, and his efforts have paid off with dominating performances in the light lager category at major competitions. In this episode, he discusses the processes behind the brewing, including his use of organic, California-grown craft malt.

Jamie Bogner Jul 22, 2022 - 5 min read

Podcast Episode 249: Andy Hooper, Former Seismic Brewmaster, is Taking Light Lager Back for Craft Primary Image

Photo courtesy Andy Hooper

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Light lager may not be a style that gets many brewers excited, but it’s one that many people drink. Long dominated by macro brewers and beers lightened by corn and rice adjuncts, it’s a competition category in which few craft brewers have found success. Yet for Andy Hooper, former brewmaster of Seismic Brewing in Santa Rosa, California, the style was ripe for craft reinvention.

As a technically focused brewer, Hooper built out the brewhouse and cellar to allow for a fine degree of control. Yet the process of dialing in light lager using organic craft malt, grown and malted in California, required quite a bit of fine tuning. In this episode, Hooper discusses:

  • designing a brewery with wastewater reclamation and sustainability at its core
  • connecting with craft maltsters and modifying stock malting processes for lightness and flavor
  • committing to minimalist brewing with a focus on ingredients
  • hot-side process and constantly monitoring pH
  • specific lautering parameters geared toward clean light lager
  • gentle ingredient handling to minimize any distracting flavors
  • controlled aeration
  • developing a nitrogen-based process for breaking up hop cones for fresh-hopped lager

And more.

_Note: After we recorded this episode, Andy resigned from Seismic Brewing, hence the designation as "former" Seismic brewmaster. _

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