249: Andy Hooper, Former Seismic Brewmaster, is Taking Light Lager Back for Craft


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Light lager may not be the style most brewers are passionate about, but it’s one that many people drink. Long dominated by macro brewers and beers lightened by corn and rice adjuncts, it’s a competition category that fewer craft brewers have found success in. But for Andy Hooper, former brewmaster of Seismic Brewing in Santa Rosa, California, the beer style was ripe for craft reinvention.

A very technically-minded brewer, Hooper had built out the brewhouse and cellar to allow for a fine degree of control, but the process of dialing in light lager using organic malt that was grown and malted in California by craft maltsters required quite a bit of fine tuning. In this episode, Hooper discusses:

  • designing a brewery with wastewater reclamation and sustainability at its core
  • connecting with craft maltsters and modifying stock malting processes for lightness and flavor
  • committing to minimalist brewing with a focus on ingredients
  • hot side process and constantly monitoring pH
  • specific lautering parameters geared toward clean light lager
  • gentle ingredient handling to minimize any distracting flavors
  • controlled aeration
  • developing a nitrogen-based process for breaking up hop cones for fresh-hopped lager

And more.

_Note- after this episode was recorded, Andy resigned from Seismic Brewing, hence the designation as "former" Seismic brewmaster. _

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