I had the blessed opportunity to chat for a long while with Brian Hunt from Moonlight Brewing in Santa Rosa while at this year’s Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest and he graciously is answering some questions when he can fit them into his busy schedule. (He does have a tasting room in the works) and he has to make sure that his popular beers like Death and Taxes and Reality Czech are brewing. Here is part one:
When did you know you’d work with beer for a living?
Likely working in the Brewing Lab at UC Davis put me over the top. I was focusing more on studying winemaking, and between the unpretentious mood in the Brewing Lab compared to winemaking, and the fact that I just enjoyed beer more, I was hooked.
Would you say you’ve had any mentors?
Absolutely I had many mentors. Oddly it was not like today when there are over 2500 breweries in the U.S., and there are a zillion people one could know in the industry. When I graduated from Davis in 1980, there were only 43 brewing companies in the US. Yes, that sounds incomprehensible today, but there were far fewer brewers to talk to. I could first point out Dr. Michael Lewis at UC Davis, yet he more gave me the foundations to build on, then rebel against, and reconfigure.
I read all the old brewing books in the UCD library looking for those nuance insights that old timers usually drop on newbies. There just weren’t many live brewers that had any practical small scale commercial knowledge to learn from. The inspirations and lessons from New Albion and Anchor were certainly quite impactful, but mostly in confirming the concept that this crazy counter-culture type of beer in which the brewer’s personality could actually be expressed in the spirit of the beer. The throne of macro beer began to crack because of these two breweries.
That said, I still get fresh inspirations and understandings every day. I glean nuances and concepts from so many beers I drink and brewers I talk with, as well as from foods and chefs.
TO BE CONTINUED…