With the ski season wrapping up, and the start of rafting, biking, and all things summer, I’ve been feeling quite a bit of nostalgia for Durango (keep the pictures coming, guys). The way that you can get in a morning ride on the mountain, an afternoon raft, and an evening bike ride is probably the best part about Southwest Colorado. When I’m missing Durango, I usually will call up a random friend and shoot the shit till they get bored or I lose my sense of longing. This time, I called up Patrick Jose, head brewer at Carver Brewing Co., and had him fill me in on all the hot new gossip, and talk about all things beer.
I know Patrick from my first day at Ska. He was the second person I met, and he was my boss for a good chunk of time, as well. He was a laid-back manager who led by example and was always clear about expectations on the brew floor. His keen eye for the little details (the mint on your pillow, as he would say), and analytical, yet artistic, approach to recipe design are definitely things I carry with me today. He’s also brewed some of the best beers in the world, helping win medals for Steamworks, Ska, and Carver at both the Great American Beer Festival and The World Beer Cup.
So what’s going on right now at Carver’s?We just got done brewing our annual Dandelion Saison for the Dandelion Festival. We put in 20 pounds of dandelions from the folks at Turtle Lake Refuge along with some experimental hops, and a sprinkle of different herbs.
That’s always one of my favorite beers, it’s just a pure signal of the start to summer to me. What other kind of cool stuff are you guys working on?Cody (Looman) brewed a super-high-gravity Belgian Quad that is still fermenting and getting really good attenuation. We’ve got a Russian Imperial Stout aging in bourbon barrels and a Wheat Wine that we brewed with Thirst Colorado and Glenwood Canyon Brewing that we’re going to age in oak for a while and we’ll have at next year’s Collaboration Fest.
So how’d you get your start in brewing? Were you a homebrewer, did you go to school for brewing, or was it some other combination?I was a homebrewer. We got my dad a home brew kit for Christmas one year and it sat for years, then I pulled it out while I was in college. I brewed a batch, went to the home brew store the next day and bought some supplies for another batch and asked if they needed help. I ended up working at the home brew store for a few years. The owner of the home brew shop was the head brewer at a brewery across the street and I got to help him out eventually.
So what made you decide to go pro, to make brewing your profession?
Well, I was in grad school studying geology at Texas Tech, actually, and I was dreading doing another year of school. I figured I could finish my degree, or I could become a brewer. Eventually, (I) moved out to Durango to work at Steamworks.
What kind of advice do you have for someone, maybe a homebrewer that’s serious about brewing, and who wants to get into the brewing industry?If there’s not a job you’re willing to take, go to school for it. ’Cause there’s always a job on a packaging line or cleaning kegs, but if you want a leg up, go to college for brewing science.
Robert Alan Wendeborn is a former cellar operator at Ska Brewing and current lead cellar operator at Tin Roof Brewing in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.