Interview: Christopher Briles (Cosmic Ales)

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Craft Beer Los Angeles

I connected with Cosmic Brewery CEO and brewmaster Christopher Briles at the recent L.A. Beer Blogger / Golden Road Winter Situation event. Now is your chance to learn more about Cosmic Ales.

Sean Inman: At what point did you know you’d work with beer for a living?

Christopher Briles: Not until a few years ago really. With the economy taking a turn and my job moving to Canada I knew I needed to find something.  A friend once told me that if you can make money having fun with your hobby then it isn’t work. I have found that he was very right about that. Now beer is my life and I am very excited to be a part of this great beer culture and the start of something great in LA.

SI: Is there anybody who mentored you along the way? If so, what did they teach you that was so valuable?

CB: I didn’t have a direct mentor but what I did have were a great community of people that want to help build the craft beer industry into something incredible.  What I got out of it was the right and wrong ways of making this happen. We all have to learn the hard lessons sometimes but having great people in this industry around you to help point you in the right direction is what was so valuable to me.

SI: What was the first Cosmic beer brewed, and how did it turn out?

CB: Our first batch of commercial beer was Hell Hound Brown which, surprisingly, converting the recipe from 10 gallons to 15 bbls I felt that we had hit the nail on the head. It has been our flagship beer ever since and will most likely remain so.

SI: What’s the criteria for a beer that you brew at your brewery? What does a beer have to be?

CB: I’ve never been one to brew the crazy outlandish types of beers because I don’t really enjoy drinking them so for a beer to make it through the process at Cosmic Brewery it has to be something that just tastes really great.  Something that others are forgetting about. I did a brown ale when no one else really was. This is one of the guidelines we will stick by, making beers that are sometimes pushed aside for no other reason than it’s not the “popular” style of the moment which by the way does not mean in any way that these styles aren’t great too.

SI: What’s your top selling beer, and why do you think that’s the case?

CB: We’ve so far only brought out two beers and the brown has really outdone itself. On tap I am surprised at how often a keg is delivered in the morning and I receive a call around 9pm for another order asap. I think it’s does so well because people haven’t had a great brown in a while. There are a few out there that are great but our American Brown with its roasty quality and chocolate flavors tall them that this is a true brown. Plus at 5.6% they can have a few with a great steak and it wont kill the taste of your food either.

SI: How do you go about naming your beers?

SB: I name the beers sometimes in a whim and sometimes sitting for days staring at a screen. Sometimes it pops up in a conversation and you go “wow that would be a great name!” Some one asked me what’s better than roses on a piano and the answer is what became out Farmhouse Saison. I want names that stick with you that people can remember. Names that people will perk up in a bar when they hear it being called out and wonder, “What’s that?”

SI: What was the most recent beer brewed, and what was your inspiration and approach?

CB: Cosmonaut is our latest release.  I brought it out in October as a seasonal because it has German roots, being that it started its life as a Kolsch but became a California Blonde in the end.  I wanted something fresh with a wheaty flavor and slight bitterness to it. I had been testing a lot of heavier flavored beers but always brewed this one because it’s a great session beer while your brewing the stouts and barleywines.

SI: If you could only drink one more beer, and you couldn’t brew it, what would it be and why?

CB: Gouden Carolus was an instant favorite of mine and continues to be to this day. As the asteroid is hurtling toward us I think I would pull that one from the cellar and selfishly drink it all to myself. Why? Well the complexities that beer has for me is something special. I like a maltier beer with just the right hops for the flavor. It’s not overloaded with too many flavors, it isn’t pretentious and trying to be something greater. It just is. Sweet malt with a pinch of hops that make it something special to me alone, that’s why I would not share even the last drop.

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Sean Inman

Find more of Sean Inman’s writing on his blog, Beer Search Party.

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