It is always a delightful surprise to find a new brew on tap or a new brewery at a festival, so I was happy to see Inland Empire Brewing pouring two beers at the recent Brews at the Zoo event. Afterwards, I connected through the magic of e-mail with brewer Paul Murphy, who better explained his background and approach.
Sean Inman: Do you have any brewing mentors?
Paul Murphy: I don’t have a beer mentor per se, but I have learned a lot from various people over the years. Particularly the guys over at “Beer, Beer and Morebeer” in Riverside during my homebrew days. Since then I have tried to learn a bit form all the other fantastic Southern California brewers I have met. One thing that is great about this industry is everyone does things a little differently and there is always room to improve your methods. Thankfully everyone is pretty sharing with what they know and willing to help each other. It’s a great community that I’m proud to be a part of.
SI: What was the beer that opened your eyes to the craft brew scene?
PM: The first beer I can remember enjoying that wasn’t brewed by “the big guys” or imported was Sam Adams’ Boston Lager. As for really getting me into beer I’d have to say my first trip to Stone brewing-the first IPA I had and liked.
SI: Which Inland Empire beer is the flagship brew and was it the one you thought it would be?
PM: When we first opened we anticipated that our Blonde or Pale Ale would be our “flagship” however once we started brewing Victoria it soon became clear it would dominate our sales. It is so unique and with a flavor that grabs people; its rare for a customer to try and not enjoy it.
SI: How did you end up in the brewing profession?
PM: Brewing began as a hobby for me. I quickly started spending what little money I had on newer, better equipment and supplies. Once we came across the deal for our full-scale setup there was really no turning back.
SI: What beer style do you think has been forgotten and is due for a comeback?
PM: I’ve always enjoyed barley wines and other big, malty beers. I think the market has been so flooded with over-the-top hopped IPAs that malty beers in general are overdue the popularity they deserve.