Podcast Episode 282: Shawn Bainbridge and Joran Van Ginderachter of Halfway Crooks Balance Expression and Control in Lager and Belgian Pale Ale

This Atlanta brewery produces an array of lagers that explore the flavors of Noble hops, while also pushing for focused expression in their Belgian-style beers.

Jamie Bogner Dec 24, 2022 - 6 min read

Podcast Episode 282: Shawn Bainbridge and Joran Van Ginderachter of Halfway Crooks Balance Expression and Control in Lager and Belgian Pale Ale Primary Image

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Halfway Crooks cofounders Joran Van Ginderachter and Shawn Bainbridge may love the wide world of craft beer, but with their Atlanta brewery the goal was to create a space and the kinds of beers that would encourage drinkers to find one they like and stick with that beer all night. If you arrive with the goal of maximizing check-ins to the widest number of beers, you’ll quickly find you’re in the wrong place.

The same design principles inform the space and the beer itself—equal parts recontextualized nostalgia, funky creativity, wry humor, and dry deadpan delivery. The bathrooms feature illustrations of chickens from the late 1800s, floral-patterned wallpaper, and a separate soundtrack (Blade Runner and Twin Peaks) from the main taproom. A video screen at the door plays low-fi digital animations. They embrace the digital present with a bit of warm vacuum-tube analog glow. And the same can be said of the beers—they’re fresh and current, but with tweaks of nostalgia and fuzz.

The brewery may be best known for their lagers, which center around separate hop varieties.

“You go to a taproom sometimes and see seven different IPAs,” Bainbridge says. “You come to this taproom and you see seven German pilsners.”

They source hops from some of the most sought-after farms in Germany and build beers around them, yet there’s also an American mentality—boosting aroma through later additions and whirlpooling, using modern enzymes to ensure fermentation proceeds on schedule. They use a brewhouse that’s not optimized for lagers, but they’ve figured out how to get the most from it—single-infusion mashes are producing beers are tight and structured.

In this episode, Bainbridge and Van Ginderachter talk extensively about their approach to lager brewing, as well as the creative and technical process behind their Belgian pale ale Sanguine—a Craft Beer & Brewing beer of the year in 2022—which they say is the one beer in their lineup they’re least happy with.

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