Episode 181: Jeff Wiederkehr of Burning Beard Believes Authenticity is the Best Policy

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“Be your authentic self, and they will come to you,” says Burning Beard cofounder Jeff Wiederkehr. It’s not about marketing calculus or cynically appealing to here-today, gone-tomorrow hype chasers. Instead, Burning Beard has built a rabid fan base by remaining small and embracing fun, all while quietly working in the brewhouse to refine, tweak, and experiment. From spontaneous coolship beers to traditional-style pilsners (and even IPAs that revisit crystal malts), Burning Beard has positioned itself as insurgent by embracing tradition, not running from it.

In this wide-ranging episode, Wiederkehr discusses:

  • Coolshipping in the warm climate of San Diego county
  • How poor cellaring techniques ruined early batches of spontaneous beer
  • Maintaining a through-line from homebrewed spontaneous projects to commercial batches in the brewery
  • Creating a San Diego beer that develops with age, inspired by Orval
  • Embracing 750 ml bottles in a market that avoids the format
  • Aging and brewing spontaneous beer with higher-alpha hop varieties
  • Developing a Czech-style pale lager recipe from early homebrew days through today
  • Driving out Saaz hop character that tastes like DMS through boil addition timing
  • Recalibrating for subtlety over intensity with lagers
  • The evolution of San Diego IPA
  • Re-embracing crystal malts in IPA

What kind of brewery would you build if you cared more about authenticity than success or profit? Wiederkehr and Burning Beard strive to live the answer to that question every day.

*This episode is brought to you by: *

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