Posts Tagged ‘Nathan Smith’

BrewingTV episode 32 …and never knowing when that shot will hit.

Thursday, March 10th, 2011

Brewing TV with Nathan Smith

I love beer and I love photography and it is always great when I can do both at one time. I shot hundreds of photos over the two days I was with Brewing TV and unfortunately I was rusty. My settings were off and I had to do way too much work in post. I was happy to get a few good shots but I’m always surprised by what the best shot ends up being.
The shot above popped out right away when I reviewed photos the following Monday. The weird thing is I never would have believed it at the time I shot it. A hasty lighting setup after BTV shoots their episode, a few shots with a portrait lens, and then “aw hell I’ll try a couple with the wide angle”. I fire off a couple akward shots since the lens was, er, right in Chip’s crotch….and he did remind me of that a couple times. Good lesson here is always try things, you never know. Also, if you are interested in portaits then please consider the wide angle lens. I would say half of my favorite portraits are with a wide angle.
So Brewing TV episode 32 goes live on Friday and Chip Inc. did a great job. Lots of good homebrewing by Nathan Smith and lost of beer drinking and interviewing around the bay (well, Marin, Berkeley, and Oakland anyways…..hey we took our time!). Can’t thank Chip, Michael, and Jake enough for letting me weasel my way in and help out with their trip out here. Most definitely look forward to seeing them at NHC San Diego this year and sharing pints again….and this time I won’t have to DD so look out boys. Some more shots from Nate’s below. Don’t forget to click on any photo for a bigger view.

Time to brew with Nathan SmithThe beginning of the Time to Brew segment for BTV episode 32.Cheese spread ala Nicole ErnyOf course we had Cicerone Nicole Erny there and she did not dissappoint. Thank you Nicole.

Chip Walton in productionThe one problem with content aquisition and beer drinking is you may not always be sober. Chip is a professional through and through.

Jason PetrosGood to see Jason Petros of the Brewing Network. JP solved a major logistics issue for the crew prior to the shoot. Thank you JP.Michael Dawson suited upMichael Dawson suited up for hop additions while Chip cleans his lens with wort steam.

Brewing TV and Nathan SmithHere’s what the portrait lens got me. Brew for all!

GABF Pro Am brewday at Triple Rock with Nathan Smith

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

nate rodger george

Yesterday I made it over to Triple Rock Brewery in time to watch Nathan Smith finish up his Pro Am brewday there. Participating along with him were Brewmaster Rodger Davis and Brewer George Kumparak.
If any of you caught Nate’s facebook posting about this, you know he gave a clue about the beer. He mentioned bringing over some specialty malt and that’s it. So Triple Rock house yeast? Maybe probably. Hopefully we’ll get Nate to comment back with the details since I didn’t exactly ask if I should post the beer. I think folks will be pleasantly surprised as the beer is different than what he has done the past two years (read: session beer). I would suspect it will go on tap at Triple rock in about a month or around the GABF time frame. Look for “Nostalgiaholic Pale Ale” during that time frame.
Hanging with this group is always a pleasure and coincidentally, this is the second year in a row that they brewed their beer on my birthday. That is either luck or a jinx…I guess we’ll find out. During our beer and conversation, Nate the guy that he is, offered to climb in the boil kettle and scrub it down. Rodger offered lots of pointers to him while he was down there…..
Please have a look at the pics and click on any of them for a larger version. I did promise Rodger that I wouldn’t publish any more dumb photos of him so instead I included a dumb photo of myself with them.
Good luck you guys this year at GABF. You deserve a medal!
nate cleaning the boil kettle

Nathan not afraid of hard work….the kettle looked pretty darn clean in the end.

rodger davis and nathan smith
Post clean up…..

nathan smith rodger davis and george kumparak

My apologies to Nate and Rodger for this photo but it is pretty classic. George seems to questions this. Thank you to Nikon for your excellent continuous shoot mode.

nate jon and rodger
That’s all for this year’s brew. Cheers gentlemen. Good luck from the dumb guy in the middle. Nice T shirt BTW.

beer in photos: a tribute to 461 brewing

Friday, March 12th, 2010

So it’s safe to say that I have been learning about and appreciating beer for a few years now. Although only recently in the past couple years, as my daughters start moving from infants to toddlers, I have had (a little) more to time to explore, understand, and appreciate the people and places that make up my local beer scene. One of the people I have had the pleasure of getting to know is Nathan Smith. As a testament to Nate’s talent, two of his beers have been on tap at Triple Rock, one being the wonderful Verhelst “five and dime” Tripel.
Fast forward to the present, Nathan and partner Nicole have moved (literally that is) to greener pastures and while wondering what I should get them for a housewarming gift, I had co-incidentaly pulled out one of my two remaining bottles of Verhelst from my beer fridge. It dawned on me that part of moving on is capturing your past. It’s one of the reasons I take photos and document beer and beer people.
So there it was. Shoot the bottle of 461 brewing’s Five and Dime Triple. Send it to the printers and give someone a remembrance of their old brewery while they brew in their new one. I knew I wanted to shoot it similar to how I did this pic.

verhelst - five and dime tripel
While I am happy with the pic, it happened quick. Shot, comped, and uploaded to the printers in two hours. It was a good exercise on getting my workflow happening faster. I would only change the color of the beer since the actual beer is more of a lighter straw color. Oh well, where is the truth in advertising anyway….
So what about the beer? Even better then when it was originally produced. Back then I loved it. The hops and the esters had stood out but married well together. I’m not a fan of west coast hops and belgian yeast but this worked. Now with time the hops and esters have mellowed and blended into one cohesive set of aromas and flavors. Even better.
Ulterior motives? Absolutely, I will be knocking down Nate’s door if I hear he brews this again!

Cheers and happy weekend.

SF Beer Week: Pro Brewers hang with the Bay Area Mashers at Oak Barrel on Thursday

Friday, February 12th, 2010

Last night, Pro Brewers Adam Lamoreaux (Linden St.), Christian Kazakoff (Iron Spring), and Rodger Davis (Triple Rock) came down to The Oak Barrel homebrew shop in Berkely to hang out at the home of the Bay Area Mashers. The public was invited as part of SF Beer Week and in Oak Barrel style, Homer Smith was BBQing. I believe the event topped out at about 150 folks….way more than both Homer and Bernie expected. While they were happy by the entusiastic attendance, they unfortunately ran out of Homer’s famous BBQ.
I myself didn’t get there till about 8pm (the event started at 5pm) since I had to get the kids to bed. Fortunately for me, Oak Barrel is about a 4 minute car ride from my house.  I was greeted by old faces and new and I had a great time. In homebrew fashion, I brought some of my homebrew. In this case, a 14% spiced mead fermented with oranges and raisins. Folks enjoyed it and I got to enjoy some of Nathan Smith’s Imperial Stout (smooth and tasty, it was about 9%). Thirsty Bear Witbier was the only beer left on tap so I enjoyed a pint of it.
Of folks I know, it was a pleasure to shake hands and talk with Nathan, Roger Davis, Ed Ledger, and Homer. It was also a pleasure to officially meet Christian of Iron Springs. Of the Bay Area Mashers, I finally met both Lee Shepard and Jon Sheehan who I have seen around on Facebook.
It was great to see yet another SF Beer Week event so well attended. Bernie (Oak Barrel) is already figuring out how he is going to work next year. Hopefully more BBQ! The best news for me is I am now officially a Bay Area Masher. I paid my dues and bought the shirt of which I will wear proudly around town and certainly to Minneapolis for this year National Homebrewer Conference.
OK, on to some shots. Please click on them for a full res version as PHP code has a way of munging phots when it auto-shrinks them. Cheers!

Nathan Smith and Homer Smith
Homebrewer extroadinare Nathan Smith with Homer, Bay Area Homebrewing and Winemaking icon.

Ed Ledger and Paul

Ed Ledger, owner of Ledger’s liqours. Ed runs one of the best stocked bottle shops in the East Bay. Paul (on the right) of the Bay Area Mashers.

Lee Shepard and Nathan Smith

Bay Area Mashers Lee Shepard and Nathan Smith

Bay Area Masher brewed a beer
Bay Area Mashers brewed a beer during the entire event. Brew time was 4 hours and 20 minutes which is fast for an all grain brew! The shot was taken while the wort was going into the fermenter.

Big flame for brewing

Oak barrel’s brew setup. This very high BTU burner is capable of bringing 12 gallons of liquid to boil in 15 minutes!

chronicles of beer obsessed: return to work…

Thursday, October 29th, 2009

rodger davisAlas, my one month paternity is over and I am back at work. Did manage to do a couple fun beer related things to ‘celebrate’ my return.

Enjoying Triple Rock Ales
Had lunch at Triple Rock on Tuesday and enjoyed their excellent Amarillo Single Hop beer and one of their award winning Red Rock Ales. Brewmaster Rodger Davis was there and we had a conversation about his upcoming trip to England, Amsterdam, and of course Belgium. I sampled his double IPA that still has to carbonate but tasted fantastic and I had no problem drinking it flat (er, cask-like). I believe that one should be on tap today or tomorrow. General Manager Extraordinaire, Jesse, was there and he brought a bottle of Deschutes XXI out to taste. I’ve only had the tap version so far and the ‘word’ I’ve getting is that the bottled version is better. I really enjoyed the bottle version, more so than I recall with the tap version…but it has been a couple weeks since I had it on tap. 

510 mead nutrient addition

adding nutrients to the fermentation

510 ‘estate’ mead
I’m now fermenting a mead with honey that was produced by bees from Oakland. I have a friend in West Oakland who happens to be in the landscaping and horticulture business. At her house, she has the bees in her backyard. I caught up with her this last weekend and she had tried to make a mead from her honey with no success. I encouraged her to bring 10 pounds over to my place and we’ll get something going. She did just that last Monday. We put together a batch that was about 80% her honey (very clover like) and about 20% Orange Blossom that I happened to have on hand. We mixed up about 3.25 gallons with a gravity of 1.110. The yeast we chose was D47.

510 mead stir to release CO2

stirring to release CO2

Fermentation had taken off by the next morning and we are looking forward to trying an Oakland 510 ‘estate’ mead in a few months.






Beer School at The Trappist was sold out both days….for good reason.

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

nate and nicole: beer schoolBefore I talk about Nathan Smith and Nicole Erny’s excellent beer school, let me talk about what the students brought to the table. Oakland is the quiet, un-pretentious melting pot that is usually over shadowed by SF, San Jose, or its own crime stats. What people miss in Oakland, and what could be found in the crowd at Beer School, were people of all ages, races, genders, and walks of life. They were there to learn and enjoy beer. There were old and young, people who knew beer already and those that didn’t. There were homebrewers and non-homebrewers. White collar and blue collar. Everyone shared an open mind and some of that wonderful Oakland non-pretentious nature. Needless to say, I enjoyed the crowd and it is what I always have envisioned as a great environment for getting to know a few things about beer.

beer school menuThis was the third Beer School event but the first to happen in the new back area of the Trappist. While I missed the first two Beer Schools, this new location seemed to be a relief to Nicole and others as there is more room. The space worked well for the upwards of 35 folks in attendance. Tables were prepped with bread, water, sheets on the two styles of beers, and a menu of what was being sampled that day (please click on the menu photo for a bigger shot). The class itself on the Belgian Dubbel and Tripel styles of beer. As a nice touch, there happened to be three folks that have gone to all three Beer Schools, so they received a Trappist goblet and a gold star for their perfect attendance.

So what is it about Nate and Nicole’s class? First off, they have an engaging style and obvious love of beer. They are certified BJCP judges and have a great depth of knowledge. Nicole, as a long time beer server at The Trappist, specializes in beer tasting, beer styles, flavors, proper storage and serving. Nate, a homebrewer who has medaled many times for his beer, has a lot of knowledge about ingredients, brewing process, beer history, along with the prerequisite beer tasting and beer styles. beer school triple pouringThey had done research on the breweries and the beer we sampled. During the class, they were both at ease speaking in front of an audience. They had a good flow in presenting information in that while one was speaking the other would pick up to fill in some blanks and then back again. They always opened the floor for questions and they provided the answers. Something to note : during any beer class (or wine class for that matter) there seems to be a spot about ¾’s of the way through were people have had just enough alcohol that the crowd starts swaying towards small talk. Nicole wasn’t having it and she reeled the class back in to finish the discussion, hats off to that. I have been to more than one class where the instructor just lets it go. Both Nate and Nicole made a point to get through all of the material to make sure that folks got the education they came for.
some beer school beersAll through the class, beers were being poured into fresh glassware and getting served promptly pretty much in sync with the lectures. Finished glassware were being cleared and water glasses were being filled, all by an excellent Trappist staff supporting the event. There were a couple times that we were asked to hold on to a sample to compare/contrast with the next one. This was not difficult as the staff were on beat (with support by Nicole) with their deliveries of the samples.
At the end of class, everyone received a full pour of any beer that the Trappist offered that day along with some plates of great cheese, meat, and bread. Folks hung out a socialized for a bit and both Nate and Nicole were available to answer any questions.

Needles to say, I am excited to attend the next Beer School so I’m going to make sure to get my reservation in early assuming that demand will continue to grow. See you there!

Take it to the Brewer presents: Scott Cramlet, Brewmaster for Rubicon Brewing Co.

Friday, August 28th, 2009

scott cramletOK, after many delays, we are proud to post the audio interview of Scott Cramlet. As mentioned before, Scott is a hard working, no nonsense guy who has putting out great beers at Rubicon for 17 years now. He is the respect of many in the industry. With the new management at Rubicon, we are also seeing a return to competition on their beers….with some award wins already in the bag.
Scott took his one day off to spend time with us on the interview. Besides our appreciation for everything else, we certainly appreciate that the most! The day was warm and Scott rode his bicycle down to the brewery to meet us. We got to the business of interviewing right away and spent time talking about a wide variety of topics including: his beers, his brewing philosophies, side projects, bottling Rubicon beers, and ideas on what may get bottled in the future. A great interview and hopefully we help to spread the word about Rubicon beers.
Scott definitely treated us well and we do appreciate the hospitality and the beers we tried. Enjoy the interview.

Interview is located on our Take it to the Brewer page.

For photos we took during the interview, go here.

Some other quick news:
Nathan Smith‘s GABF pro-am Triple is now on tap at Triple Rock Brewpub in Berkeley. It is a fantastic beer and the west coast hops blend well with the Triple style. Great job on that one Nate!!! Please see this post for specifics on the beer
Also, got a chance to finally meet Chad Moshier (‘shat the producer’ of the Brewing Network). He has done a lot of great work behind the scenes for both the brewing network and for NHC this year. He is also quite the respectable homebrewer as well. Turns out he brewed the latest batch of Bill Brand Brown which was done as an English brown this time around. It comes in at a very drinkable ‘english’ ABV of 4.2%. Nice work Chad on that beer. While Triple Rock is pro-am’ing Nate’s beer at GABF, they will be taking Chad’s version of Bill Brand Brown out there to pour. Rodger Davis (brewmaster) wanted to pour a beer named after Bill in memory of him. That is great news and glad they are honoring Bill this way.

Nathan Smith’s Pro-Am brewday at Triple Rock

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

L-R: Nathan Smith, Rodger Davis, and George Kumparak.

I was able to make it briefly down to Triple Rock on Wednesday to see Nathan Smith brew his Pro-Am beer for GABF. My timing was good as he just finished pitching yeast and had time for a beer and a chat along with brewer George Kumparak and Head brewer Rodger Davis.

As Wednesday was my birthday and I had the attention of the brewmaster, I thought I would let him, ahem,  know that. Rodger didn’t dissappoint…although he may have pulled out his backroom special brews anyway. I had no idea that Rodger had a barrel program going on in the back room of Triple Rock but oh boy. Got to try his “Kaiser Soze” which is a bourbon barrel aged Imperial Stout (sorry, didn’t get specifics….but it was great). We then tried an amazing Rodenbach-ish style sour. It was blended from two different wine barrel aged beers (one of the barrels was Grenache). Thank you Rodger.nate_rodger…and I digress….

Below, is some information about Nate’s pro-am beer. Hopefully it won’t jinx his chances for a medal this year.  It will be served at Triple Rock probably in about 2 plus weeks-ish. Be on the lookout for “five and dime Tripel” soon.
Also click on the pics for a larger view of the photos.

From Nate:nate_rodger2
The beer is a Tripel based around one of my favorite modern interpretations of the classic Belgian Tripel, Gregory Verhelst’s Tripel from La Rulles brewery in Rulles, Belgium (  The idea is a spicy, dry, complex Tripel at about 8.3%ABV with some interesting hop complexity driven by American hops.  The homebrew recipe is as follows:

  It was in many ways my favorite beer that I’d homebrewed over the last year and I’m happy Rodger and George were down to brew it at Triple Rock. It did moderately well in competition, 3rd place at the World Cup of Beer in the Belgian Strong Ale category this year, and scored very well in others but failed to place.
  The yeast really drives so much of the flavor in a Tripel, The ester profile is driven by WLP510 the Bastogne top fermenting yeast which ferments a bit “cleaner” tasting than the typical WLP510/WLP530 Trappist or Abbey strains.  I get moderate fresh pear and apple fruit esters, muted phenols out of WLP510/Bastogne and less dark fruit/plum character than Trappist/WLP510 or less pineapple/tropical fruit character than Abbey/WLP530.  But, these yeasts are infinitely complex, and how the brewer treats them from brewery to brewery can often act completely different, that’s what I get out of those yeasts in the way that I treat ‘em.  I grew up all of the yeast for the batch at home from homebrew batches.  A bit insane, but I think will help us achieve the results we want.
I just got word from Rodger earlier today that the fermentation was taking off as expected, which was great news.
  The hops are all American, instead of a hoppy Belgian style beer like Houblon Chouffe or La Freak, the goal is to have the American hops blend with the esters in the flavor & aroma, and since this yeast leaves a bit of a gap in the normal phenol profile of a Belgian beer, that gives a space for the Amarillo hops to lock in.  Amarillo has such a oily, resinous, citrusy character, a little bit goes a long way.  Kind of like orange peel and coriander in a Belgian wit, the small amount of American hops in the finish are a subtle spice addition and shouldn’t jump out of the glass screaming their presence.  This just might be one of the tougher parts to get right on the commercial beer, hopefully it will scale up as intended!  We’ll know more here in a few weeks.”

Thank you Nate for the detailed information and to anyone who tries brewing Nate’s recipe, I’m sure he would love to try your efforts!
Good luck in Denver this year both Nathan and Triple Rock!

NHC 2009 Oakland, Ca. – Day 1

Thursday, June 18th, 2009

Two of the west coasts finest in both pro brewing and homebrewing. Vinnie Cilurzo of Russian River Brewing Co. and Oakland resident, Nathan Smith who has beers in the final round of the nationals.

First off, I have to admit that this is my first NHC ever. As a homebrewer on and off for 20 years, I figured having it in my hometown was excuse enough to go and I’m glad I went. So far, I’m pretty sure I’m going every year no matter where it is.
I realized on my way to the convention that my brewing is pretty siloed in that I don’t have a lot of regular friends to talk with about brewing. I have made some professional-type connections through the website but no regulars. I was a bit nervous as I was about to go hang out with my tribe of people who I have never really met.Fortunately,  we have a lot in common. I did end up talking to folks and everyone has been great so far. I reconnected with some acquaintances that I haven’t seen in a while either. Hopefully what I get out of this weekend are some new friends who share a hobby that is near and dear to my heart.
charlieThe opening speech featured Gary Glass: head of the American Homebrewers Association, Charlie Papazian: no need to explain here, and Jamil Zainasheff, Homebrewer, AHA board member, and tireless volunteer. Jamil spoke about how the event was not about the beer but about the people. Coinky dink, exactly what I was think about this morninggarycharliechrisjamil and great to hear someone else say it.
I rolled through a couple of seminars one by Matt Brynildson of Firestone Walker and Vinnie Chilurzo of Russian River. I did get them on tape and hope to post them later. Matt’s was on wood aging and Vinnies was on fermenting with “wild yeast”: brettanomyces. Both were excellent. I also also spent a good amount of time in the hospitality suite were many vendors had their wares out. Blichmann has come up with their version of a gravity fed all grain brew system and it was impressive. Highly modifiable by the user and one option was a shelf to sit your mash cooler on….something I have been wanting to see for a while. I don’t know the cost but hopefully it is close to other systems. blichmann
Tomorrow is day two and it will be packed with seminars. Looking forward to the panel on Mead, great brewing tips with Ray Daniels and Randy Mosher. Others as well.
I forgot to mention that this is a beer event. It was everywhere. Wyyeast had three taps in the registration area. There was a club pouring about 8 different beers at the hospitality suite. There was beer being poured…and served to you at your seat…at the opening toast and Vinnie had beers to go with his presentation….brought to your seat while you listened to the lecure. Very nice.
More soon.

Nate Smith brings his Double IPA to the GABF Pro-Am

Monday, October 6th, 2008

North Oakland Double IPA

As an Oakland native, I felt a bit of pride when I heard Nate Smith named his award winning Double IPA: North Oakland Double IPA. It speaks to his love of the area and perhaps how he feels it is home. Much like I do.

His beer is currently on tap at Triple Rock brewing in Berkeley and I suggest you try it while it is still there. Go out and feel the East Bay love presented in all of its hoppy glory.

Nate will take this beer to the Great Amerian Beer Festival this week in hopes of placing in the Pro-Am contest. I wanted to speak with Nate about this beer, how he became the DIPA mad scientist, and how he hooked up with Rodger Davis, Brewmaster of Triple Rock, for the GABF Pro-Am. Not everyone can get into the Pro-Am competition….you need an actual award winning beer and you need the Pro Brewer to help you brew it.

Nate was kind enough to answer my questions before he headed out to Denver for the Great American Beer Festival.

Nate Smith's DIPA on the board at Triple Rock

Tell me about your backgound…how long have you been brewing and how did you evolve into brewing Double IPAs?

I started brewing in spring of 1998 shortly after I moved to Santa Clara County, CA from the east coast. A curiosity for the world of beer and a lack of money drove me to find my first extract and plastic-bucket kit. I was immediately hooked even though my first batch turned out like crap. I brewed nearly every weekend back then, mostly so my friends and I would have something to drink. Plastic buckets as mash-tuns, all bottle conditioned, no kegs, no temperature controlled fermentation. I keep an old webpage up that I put online back then about that first 9 months or so of brewing: It’s funny to look back at that and remember barley and hop cultivars/strains that are now gone and to look at my old OG/FG statistics.

I brewed as many ale styles as I could, with as many yeast strains as I could, it was quite a revelation in those first few months of brewing to learn that “brewers make the wort, yeast makes the beer”. Phil Montalbano at the Fermentation Frenzy homebrew shop in Los Altos was really instrumental in helping me along in the beginning. Most respect to him for encouraging me to go all grain and to make yeast starters. I think Phil planted the seeds that would eventually make me a IPA brewer later on; back in 1999 I remember he gave me sample of Amarillo hops as a “super cascade” that I used in dry-hopping a few pale ales. That fresh, citrusy aromatic hop quality that you can only get from a really fresh, clean dry-hopped beer always stuck with me even during 2001-2004 when I was spending a lot more free time playing music than brewing.

By 2004 I moved to a small house in North Oakland where I could resume some of the things that I’d missed for a while: cooking, gardening and home brewing. I met Nicole around the same time and she was just beginning to explore the world of beer. Sooner or later we were on brewery tours and at the Toronado and Barclays – and that really re-inspired me to really taste, understand, enjoy and start home-brewing again with new ideas and passion. At the same time all of these wonderful, interesting new-interpretations of IPAs were appearing from Russian River, Bear Republic, Stone, Moylans, etc.. All of these interesting complex resiny, citrusy, dank, piney flavors really struck a chord. That was a turning point for my understanding
of beer. This wasn’t just another brewing fad, these hop forward flavored beers had really matured from American Pale ale into a unique, world-class regional style. From there I had to try my hand at brewing a fresh, home-brewed example. So I started brewing a lot of IPAs and Double IPAs in addition to the Pale Ales and Belgian styles I was doing already.

Nate with his Best of Show RibbonWhat awards have you won with this beer…which one got you the “in” for the pro-am?

For the North Oakland Double IPA:
* 1st Place, 2008 BAM World Cup of Beer – Category 14, India Pale Ale
* Best of Show, BAM World Cup of Beer 2008
* 2nd Place, 2008 Mayfaire Regional Homebrew competition – Class 7, India Pale Ale
* 2nd Place, 2008 National Homebrew Competition, 1st Round, IPA Category – Western Region
* 1st Place, IPA, 2008 Bay Area Brew Off – Alameda County Fair
* Best of Show, 2008 Alameda County Fair Bay Area Brew Off

I had to pick just one – It was the World Cup beer that lead to the Pro-Am.

How did you hook up with Rodger Davis, Brewmaster of Triple Rock?

Rodger and I talked about doing a Pro-Am beer at the Trappist the night after the World Cup in March 2008. I’d known Rodger a bit a few years prior as an acquaintance that I’d see from time to time at beer
festivals and bars. He was between breweries at the time, so I wasn’t quite sure if we’d find a place to do this beer as a Pro-Am beer, but we talked about it again a few times over the days and months. Finally he wound up at Triple Rock when Christian left for Iron Springs. Great timing really, because the new assistant brewer at Triple Rock, George Kumparak has been a friend for many years and we were already talking about trying to do some brewing collaborations before Rodger started there. Perfect situation all around.

Your DIPA is called North Oakland DIPA. I’m an Oakland native myself, are you going to bring it on and make the 510 proud?

Absolutely! The 510 and especially North Oakland feel like home more than anywhere else I’ve lived in my adult life. The last 3 years of trial batches were definitely a product of the environment in which they were created. Everyone from Nicole (Trappist) to my hophead neighbor Scott (Barclays), to the pizza delivery guy to the folks in Stormcrow and Beercraft – I tried to serve this beer to anyone who was interested and get their feedback for future changes. Part of it is a bit absurd, tongue-in-cheek, as if this beer was brewed in the “North Oakland Double IPA” style, as if such a a category exists! Brian Hunt is one of my brewing heroes, and I like how he talks about beer and food being highly regional, so the name is a nod of respect to that idea.

Is this your first time to GABF or have you been before, what are your expectations of the event?

No, I’ve never been to the GABF before. I expect to be overwhelmed and under the constant urge to try way too many beers that are unavailable to us in Northern California such as the hoppy beer from Alpine Brewing and Three Floyds to the fruit beers from New Glarus, the unfiltered beers of Furthermore to the Belgian and French ales from Southampton. I’m also really looking forward to meeting up with the handful of people I know in the brewing world and enjoy an extended time away from my day job to sit down and seriously discuss brewing and beer with some friends over some fine beverages.

I don’t know the number but I’m sure there are quite a few entries in the pro-am… it more then to just savor the experience of being in the pro-am or is it really going after the medal?

There are approximately 60 entries in the Pro-Am category. I just love being able to savor the experience. Any medals would just be icing on the cake. Being able to take a day out of my normal routine to be invited to make a 7 barrel batch based on my homebrew recipe is just amazing. It’s a great feeling just to walk in Triple Rock and order this beer for myself and my friends. And then at the same time notice that other people around the bar are ordering and enjoying the beer (with no encouragement or input from me!) is a really cool experience. Thanks to Rodger, George, the Martin brothers and the Triple Rock staff for going out of their way to help pull this off. They tracked down special types and quantities of grain, adjuncts and
hops for this beer that they normally don’t stock, which was so kind of them. This beer was very expensive to begin with, and to take on extra expense and chance of using special ingredients for a one-off beer is very respectful.

Nate Smith guitarist in StormcrowYou are also in a couple of bands, one of them being Stormcrow. Is metal and brewing a great mix or what?

Metal/punk/hardcore and brewing go hand in hand. This is one case in which stereotypes are true, and for good reason. Great music and
great drink go back with humans as far as time, and for me the perfect combination is heavy music and beer. Beer and music pairing anyone? We hear a lot about food and beer pairing, but what about music and beer pairing? I used to jokingly pair music with the recipes as a suggestion for consumption and on brew day. Let’s try a more updated version:

Full Sail Session Lager or PBR with Amebix, Dystopia or Bolt Thrower
Boont Amber or Red Seal with At The Gates
St. Bernardus Abt 12 or Konigshoven Quad with Asunder, Sunn or Laudanum
Pliny the Elder or Port Brewing Wipeout IPA with Sleep or Kyuss
Old Rasputin or Shakespeare Stout with Darkthrone, Emperor or Ludicra
Duvel or Damnation with Slayer or Morbid Angel
St. Feuillien or Witkap Tripel with Carcass or Napalm Death
Cantillon Iris or Drie Foaintainen Oude Gueuze with The Fucking Champs or Tarantula Hawk

Hahaha.. It could go on forever.. this is ridiculous. If I ever work in a production brewery I’m going to lobby for music and beer pairing suggestions on the bottle labels, just to be confusing and obnoxious if nothing else.

If the economy keeps going south and you had to sell either your triple rectifier amp head or your brew system what would you pick?

I’d go to the soup lines and try to keep both. But, if push comes to shove, I suppose it would have to be the Triple Rectifier, since that’s easier to quantify for someone else. My brewing system is a cobbled together mess that wouldn’t be very well understood by anyone else, so I’ll probably take that one to the grave.

Mike McDole of Clayton teamed up with Sean of 21st Ammendment for the Pro-Am. Do you know Mike?

Tasty McDole is one of the best brewers around and just an awesome guy. Generous and friendly doesn’t even begin to cover it. I’m happy I do know him a bit, and thankful for this hobby that I do, otherwise
I probably wouldn’t have much of an opportunity to meet folks like him. We did a cross-bay “release party tour” one evening when his Pro-Am beer was on at the 21A and mine was on tap at Triple Rock. That was pretty awesome.

You vs. McDole, could this be a classic battle of the 925 vs the 510?

Yes, you’re right! Well, Tasty loses points because he didn’t have a 925 brewery produce his beer. Nah, just kidding. If either of these entries places in the Pro-Am entry, I’ll be thrilled. The 21A “Tasty” is an awesome beer, I encourage everyone to go down to 21A and enjoy a pint when it’s back on again soon. The nose and hop flavor of an IPA with the drinkability of a Pale Ale. Just absolutely wonderful.

Best of luck to you Nate and enjoy GABF!

Jon / Beer Obsessed, thanks for inviting me to do the interview! Cheers!!!

*photos of Nate are courtesy of Nate. The photo of him with the BOS ribbon was taken by Peter and Sam at the