Brewer Bytes with The Lost Abbey
An Interview with Tomme Arthur, Brewmaster
Posted on 2/14/2013 by Chops
Making a name for yourself as a boundary pushing Belgian brewer is no easy task. But to pursue that name out in California borders on the absurd. You might as well call yourself an arctic surfer or a shark whisperer. This is why the story behind The Lost Abbey is so remarkable. San Diego native and brewmaster Tomme Arthur has managed to harness the delectable nuances of Belgian-style beer as well as apply his own unique West Coast interpretation, resulting in an award winning line of delicious nectar. It's an impressive feat to say the least, which is why we were quite stoked when Tomme agreed to offer up some BrewChief Brewery Bytes.
Do you have a fond memory about building your brewery?
Absolutely. The process of taking over the brewery from Stone Brewing was not as easy as we had hoped. There was a ton of rebuilding that has taken place. We have upgraded so many areas since we moved in. But when I look around the building now and I see patrons enjoying our beers so close to where they are brewed, I know that it was all worth it.
Do you have a not-so-fond memory about building your brewery?
We bought a pair of 120 BBl fermenters from Bert Grant Ales. At the time we were low on funds. So we elected to rig the tanks off the truck and into the building ourselves. It was a ridiculous thing to do. Ultimately we spent 14 hours the first day and 10 the next day getting two tanks into the building. No dents, dings or scrapes but 24 hours for two tanks is not exactly ideal...
How do you feel about your overall success today?
Some days it feels that failure is only one miss step away. There are so many new great breweries making a splash in the market so we are constantly looking to upgrade our abilities to measure and improve our brewing systems. That is the only way I measure success and in many ways, I am pleased with that area of growth for us at the brewery.
Where do you see your brewery in the future?
We're working hard to define ourselves today and for the future. As we know there will continue to be new entrants, it becomes even more important for us to really define ourselves in the market. It is our hope to remain a small (but growing) brewery. We know that someday soon we will need to build another facility if we are going to grow and reach new consumers.
What do you feel sets you apart from other brewers?
We continue to focus on innovation through experimentation with high levels of success. Our Lost Abbey Ultimate Box Set (released in fall of 2012) tasked our entire brewery with top to bottom production issues. The beers that became part of this set are some of the most amazing beers we have ever made. Continuing to take chances and risks is a rewarding part of our business and makes for a point of differentiation that consumers can clearly see.