We're running a monthly series called "Food for Thought," in-depth conversations with groundbreakers who run farms, restaurants, wineries, breweries and bars around California and are shaking up the way we eat and drink.
Our fourth talk is with the Brewmasters, two people who've won lots of awards for creating some of some of the best craft beer to come out of Northern California.
One is a seasoned vet who helped a small Chico-based brewery grow into a billion-dollar company. The other is a young whippersnapper who, 13 months after moving his beers from the garage into a professional setup, won two gold medals at the California State Fair.
To celebrate Octoberfest, we raised some pints and celebrated California craft beer with a great discussion by these two guys who've helped to make it famous.
* Steve Dresler - the just-retired Brewmaster of Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., who has overseen the development and production of almost all of its new beers for more than 30 years, and has won the the brewery eight World Beer Cup awards and 31 Great American Beer Fest medals during that time.
* Michael Mraz - the owner and founder of Mraz Brewing Company in El Dorado Hills, who went from homebrewer to superstar homebrewer (he was crowned Homebrewer of the Year at the California State Fair just two years after starting the hobby), then went from professional brewer to superstar professional brewer in 13 months (he won two gold medals for his Belgian Tripel and red ale at the CA State Fair).
* O to 2:40 min - Intro to California Groundbreakers
* 2:40 min - The Brewmasters introduce themselves
* 9:40 min - The first memorable beer that led to a career in beer greatness
* 13:40 min - How they got into homebrewing
* 16:15 min - The decision to be a professional brewmaster
* 20: 15 min - Picking the best in the four ingredients needed to make excellent beer
* 26 min - The art of barrel-aging beers
* 28:10 min - Sharing beer recipes or keeping it secret
* 33:25 min - How California's changing environmental conditions changes its beer
* 40 min - How Sierra Nevada Brewing has changed since its start -- and the brewmasters' favorite keg beers
* 44:30 min - Dealing with beer snobs who think even Sierra Nevada isn't "real" craft beer
* 48:15 min - How you expand beer production while keeping it quality beer
* 50:45 min - Why Mraz decided to expand his brewery -- and then decided to call it off
* 54:15 min - How Dresler's brewmaking techniques changed as Sierra Nevada Brewing got bigger
* 56:15 min - Dresler's most notable beer collaborations with other brewing partners
* 59:55 min - Sour beers -- and new trends, flavors and ingredients influencing beer today
* 1 hr, 6 min - How important is the "art direction" of beer?
* 1 hr, 10:10 min- Pros and cons of running a brewery
* 1 hr, 14:40 min - What they want people to experience when drinking beer
* 1 hr, 16:45 min - How to pair beer with food
* 1 hr, 20:20 min - When you know it's time to retire -- and the importance of Dresler's most recent award
AND LISTEN TO THE ICEBREAKER PODCASTS
"Icebreakers" are mini-podcasts we uploaded in advance of this Brewmasters discussion. Go back to our main page on SoundCloud to listen to a few other people who also do groundbreaking stuff in the beer industry, including:
* J-E Paino of Ruhstaller Beer explains why his is the only brewery in California, besides the mega-big Sierra Nevada Brewing, to grow its own hops.
* Charlie Bamforth, Professor of Malting and Brewing Sciences at UC Davis, also known as the "Pope of Foam," discusses how his department and its research has shaped the production of California's craft beer.
* Kate Whelan, director of Sacramento Beer Week, talks about how women are shaking up the beer industry.
* Glynn Phillips, owner of Rubicon Brewing Company, talks about the rise and fall of Sacramento's oldest craft brewery, and why he closed Rubicon 1.5 months before it marked its 30th anniversary.