Brewer Bytes with Baird Brewing Co.
An Interview with Bryan Baird, Founder & Brewmaster
Posted on 2/21/2013 by Chops
A commonality of the human condition is the desire to do what we want, where we want. Few of us are lucky enough to achieve this, let alone make a career out of it. This is why the story behind the Baird Brewing Company is so inspiring. Bryan Baird, an Ohio native, decided to teach abroad in Japan. He fell in love with the country and stayed there. He then decided to further his brewing passion by opening a craft brewery. Today he enjoys the fruits of being a successful and influential Japanese brewer. As ambitious beer fans, we can't help but love this story, which is why we were delighted when Bryan agreed to offer up some Brewer Bytes.

What inspired you to get into brewing?

That is simple: beer. I love beer and always have. It is the most diverse beverage on earth as well as being the most sociable one. Beer is here for a very simple but important reason -- to make us humans happier than we otherwise would be. Brewing beer is first and foremost an act of love. I can think of no better way to earn a living.

What is the best thing about being part of the beer industry?

The camaraderie among brewers is a special thing. It is such a friendly and cooperative industry. I wish that the same degree of friendly cooperation that exists at the brewer level also existed at the sales level (importers, distributors, retailers). Alas, it doesn't.

What do you feel sets you apart from other brewers?

Our brewing orientation is fully and completely toward minimal processing. This runs all the way to ingredient selection. For example, we use exlusively whole flower hops (not pellets or extract). We use traditionally and gently floor-malted base barley rather than mechanically malted barley. When we use non-traditional ingredients such as fruit, we only use whole fruit in season and we subject it to fermentation. We filter none of our beers and we secondarily ferment and naturally carbonate in package all of our beers. We believe that the more you process something the more character you knock out of it. Baird Beer is all about character-maximization, not minimization. We believe this sets our taste apart.

What breweries do you respect the most?

I am an American who was inspired by the craft beer movement that kicked off on the west coast. Most of my hero breweries are thus American ones, beginning with Anchor and Sierra Nevada. Later heroes include Victory, Russian River and New Glarus. All of these breweries make extraordinarily characterful, clean beer and happen, not coincidentally, to be wonderful businesses.

What advice would you give a new craft beer fan?

Drink broadly and study deeply. The more knowledge you acquire, the more understanding and meaning you can derive from the drinking experience. Also, think while you drink. If you don't drink thoughtfully, you miss much of what is happening in he subtle regions of flavor development. Many of the very best beers are nuanced and you can discover flavors as you imbibe a pint that you didn't notice upon the first sip or two. Finally, learn to tell the difference between a poorly made beer and one that is well-made but, for whatever reason, isn't to your liking. There can be a big difference.

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Baird Brewing Founder & Brewmaster, Bryan Baird
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