Interview: brewmaster Liz Chism (Council Brewing Company)

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Craft Beer San Diego

Photo of Liz Chism and husband Curtis courtesy of Council Brewing Company

Liz Chism, husband Curtis Chism, and CFO Greg Leiser are opening Council Brewing Company in San Diego with help from a Kickstarter campaign that runs through December 15. They’re preaching “Community & Craftsmanship,” and will be able to pin several awards to the walls of their Kearny Mesa tasting room for brewing a Nelson hopped Pale Ale, IPA, Belgian Saison and Imperial Oatmeal Stout called Pirate’s Breakfast. I recently corresponded with Liz Chism, and Council’s brewmaster shared several insights.

Was it a given that you would work with beer for a living, or did you consider other careers?

As I look back over my life, I can see how everything has come full circle. Since I was little, I have always enjoyed being in the kitchen, designing recipes, tasting, critiquing, and improving what I made so others could enjoy it. Then when I had my first craft beer, an IPA, I fell in love with everything about it. Curtis and I started talking about how beer is actually made and of course we had to try making it ourselves. Our first batch was made with extract. After finishing the beer, I felt like I cheated. It felt to me like making a cake out of a box mix and calling myself a baker. Immediately we upgraded to an all-grain set up and have been madly brewing ever since. Although I am a Sign Language interpreter, I look forward to working in the beer industry and continuing my passion for creating something that others enjoy.

What does a beer have to be for you to brew it at Council Brewing?

The beer at Council Brewing ultimately has to be something I enjoy. Any beer I make, I have to test it, taste it, and tweak it so it can be great for everyone else. Thankfully, I enjoy almost all styles of beer. Despite loving spicy Mexican and Thai dishes, the one type of beer I can’t handle are chili beers, so we don’t plan on brewing this style any time soon.

How do you go about naming your beers?

So far, naming our beers has been tough. When we have thought of the right name for a beer, it has felt like the name has been the right fit for that beer. So far only a couple of our beers have names. When naming our beers, we don’t want to put ourselves in a box by creating a theme with our beer names. We also want names that are easy to pronounce, after you’ve had a couple of beers, and something that can be remembered. Hopefully the other names will fit our beer just like the other ones have.

What are some of your most satisfying moments of working with craft beer?

There has been a few satisfying moments for me. One of them has been the time when I designed a recipe, brewed it, and had it turn out just right, then entered that beer in a competition, and took first place.

Another great moment was to take and pass the BJCP exam to become a certified beer judge. I am one of just a few women in San Diego who are certified. Knowing how to critique beer, especially your own, is very important.

Where do you see the San Diego beer scene in five years, and how does Council Brewing fit into that vision?



Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

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