Interview: brewmaster Greg Kitchen (Triple Voodoo Brewing)
San Francisco, CA
415 598 8811
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On one of my frequent stops at Verdugo Bar, I struck up a conversation with Dustin Funk who works for Triple VooDoo Brewing. We talked for a bit of their Inception and Grand Cru beers and now they have their version of a Wit beer, Witopia, on the market. That led me to e-mail Greg Kitchen from the brewery to learn more.
At what point did you know you’d work with beer for a living?
Our first master brewer and I used to home brew every Sunday. We quickly realized that the beer was pretty tasty. Not being satisfied with our own opinions we took the beer that we made to parties. People really liked it. Eventually we were hosting our own underground “nano” events and hosted parties with as many as 200-300 people. We soon realized that we loved making beer and we loved the beer community in general. Once we also discovered that others shared the same passion for our beer as we did then we knew that this was our calling.
Is there anybody who mentored you along the way? If so, what did they teach you that was so valuable?
We have been fortunate enough to have tons of support from the beer community. The list of names are too long to list. Some of the most valuable lessons that we were taught were to be passionate about our products and that if we didn’t believe in what we were putting out then others most likely would not either.
What was the first beer you ever brewed, and how did it turn out?
Don’t remember the first beer (might have been a basic pale ale). The one home brewed beer that stands out in my mind was the first home brewed version of our Belgian Triple (now called Inception). Belgian beers can be tricky to get right and we nailed it on the first try! Our friends who were into Belgian beers really liked it and kept asking us to make it again and again! The recipe for Inception has changed a bit over the last couple of years but it still holds true to the original version we cooked up on the stove top and fermented in glass carboys.
What’s the criteria for a beer that you brew at your brewery? What does a beer have to be?
The number one criteria for all of our beer is that we have to be passionate about it. We never make a particular style of beer because it is what everyone else it doing. We also, try and add our own twist on every style we brew to make it unique. Right now we are really hooked on Belgian beers. This has been one of our passions from the beginning. I am also obsessed with barrel aged beers. I feel there is a lot of room for creativity here. We just put out a limited release (only 19 cases) barrel aged version of our Grand Cru. We will be doing something similar for Inception as well. I am really excited to expand our barrel program beyond 19-case runs.
What’s your top selling beer, and why do you think that’s the case?
Currently our Inception Belgian Style Ale is our top selling beer. It is consistently in the top 5 at most of our draft accounts. I believe the reason it sells so well is because it it unique for a Triple. The addition of the German hops give it a unique flavor profile that not only attracts fans of Belgian beers but also IPA drinkers as well. I have had several people tell me they do not like Belgian beers but love Inception.
How do you go about naming your beers?
Typically everyone in Triple Voodoo submits their top five choices for the name of one of our beers and then we all pick the one we like the most. This gives everyone the feeling that they are part of the process and gets them to really think about what the beer really is and what is represents to them.
What was the most recent beer that you brewed, and what was your inspiration and approach?
Our latest release is our Witopia Belgian Witbier. I have been drinking a lot of different Witbier’s/white’s lately (eg Celis White, Einstock, Alagash, etc) and have become a big fan of the style because it is crisp and refreshing without being boring. Some Witbier’s can be too “bland” and some can be over spiced. We took a traditional recipe and added fresh ginger to it. The ginger gives it an interesting flavor profile without being over powering.
If you could only drink one more beer, and you couldn’t brew it, what would it be and why?
This questions really depends on the day you ask me 🙂 Today I would have to say it would have to be White Oak by The Bruery. I really love what they do and their beers are always interesting and very complex. Besides, I am really into barrel aged beers right now and I feel that they nailed it with this one.