Interview: Nate Watson + Mike Reinhardt (Wilderness Brewing)

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Craft Beer Kansas City

Last week, your homework was to check out the Kickstarter site of the upcoming Wilderness Brewing Company. I interviewed Nate Watson and Mike Reinhardt about who their brewing mentors are, the beer scene in Missouri and what beers they most recently brewed.

1. Do you have any brewing mentors?

Watson: Yes, first and foremost, Mike was a huge source of advice, insight and encouragement. When I started getting deep into brewing–particularly–all grain, I would call him every brew day for suggestions. Mike’s the type of guy who researches his passions. Also, I doubt he’s a mentor, but I practically memorized Charlie Papazian’s “The Complete Joy of Homebrewing.” I’m not the type of guy who gets “star struck” but I would love to meet Papazian. I spent a lot of time reading other homebrewer’s blogs. I know I’ve picked up a lot of helpful tips from peers and their forums and blogs.

Reinhardt: My brewing mentors are the books I’ve read. Part of the reason Nate and I started to site is so that people can have good information and virtual mentors for brewing. Books were great but it would have been nice to have a guiding hand at the very beginning.

2. What is the craft beer scene like in Kansas City? And Missouri in general?

Watson: Missouri has potential for becoming a beacon in the craft scene. One of the first beer blogs was STL Hops. I think that perhaps because the beer behemoth of the macro world is based out of Missouri, the craft beer lovers have a David vs. Goliath mentality and want to prove that their state can be recognized for more than just Budweiser.

Kansas City itself boasts a formidable craft beer scene. There tons of great beer bars, beer stores, and of course, we have bragging rights due to the presence of Boulevard, one of my favorite breweries. Unlike other towns/cities I’ve lived in, the craft scene here is very family oriented, and camaraderie abounds. The folks here who love good brew are very interconnected, but are not exclusive. The city is already very welcoming of our project.

Reinhardt: Nate knows that answer to the second one. I did live in Springfield, MO for 4 years and the beer scene was beginning to emerge by the time I moved. There were some cool places but one in particular, Couzins, was awesome. It closed down because people just weren’t there yet (and location was great). I’m confident that it would excel now…too bad.

3. What was the first home brewed beer that people wanted more of?

Watson: Definitely my Belgian Imperial Stout. I brewed it with Frankincense, Gold, and Myrrh and gave it away to folks around Christmas. It is my highest ABV beer to date, at 17.4%. Since then though, just about every brew has been requested.

Reinhardt: My first all grain was a double bock (pretty complicated mash for a first time all grain). It turned out excellent and my wife in particular was all over it but others always wanted to know if there was more.

4. What’s the most recent beer that you each brewed and why did you choose that particular style?

Watson: The last beer I brewed is still bubbling away. It will become a sour brown ale, inspired by the Flanders’ Oud Bruin tradition. The grain bill is unique (and at this point a secret) but it is lightly spiced with cinnamon and sweet orange. It is loaded with all sorts of little bugs (Brettanomyces and Lactobacillus) that will make a brutally sour beer in about a year and a half. It is going to age in one of Mike’s oak barrels. Why did I brew it? I am just nuts about sour beers.

Reinhardt: I’ve recently brewed several lambics. The young ones were used to blend with one I’ve been fermenting/aging for 15 months. I chose the style because it was a challenge and you can do extremely interesting things with the style. Also, I wanted to see people’s faces when I told them that they were about to try a sour beer…and then I wanted to see it when they tasted it and enjoyed it.

5. What beer style do you think has been forgotten and is due for a comeback?

Watson: My grandma immigrated to the U.S. as a child from Poland. I grew up on rich sausages, sauerkraut, and pierogi. So, I think the Grodziskie, a Polish Smoked Wheat ale, needs to pop up in the market. I would also love to see some old Nordic unhopped brews.

Reinhardt: To some degree I think the tradition pilsner has been forgotten due to the more extreme beers (not that we don’t plan on brewing huge and extreme beers). Of course, there have been some pilsners hitting it big…but they were Imperial. Generally speaking, I think the subtle styles have been lost in the fray of really aggressive ones. That’s why Pilsners will be brewed next to our big beers. In short, subtlety in styles could afford a comeback and there is reason they shouldn’t stand along side the new and more popular styles.

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

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Sean Inman

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

Blog Comments

Wondering how the brewery is coming along after raising 40K and 7 years on? Vapor brew, and a lot of donors taken for a ride. Shame.

Sean,

Thanks for posting this. We love the support of the beer community and relish the relationships we have.

Mike

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