Keith Jackson is the brewer at Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant in Columbus. He took over brewing duties earlier this year after brewer Chris Alltmont left for Fat Head’s Brewery. Before joining Gordon Biersch, which specialized in German-style lagers, Jackson worked for several years at Columbus Brewing Co. He’s an Ohio native and Ohio University graduate.
Question: Why did you become a brewer?
Answer: To put it simply, because I love beer and love brewing it. I wanted to have a career to be passionate about and enjoy the fruits of my labor. I also wanted a job that required some physical labor, and brewing fulfilled all of those needs ... and then some.
Q: What’s it like working for a brewery chain, as opposed to working for an independent brewery? Are there any advantages or drawbacks?
A: In my narrow frame of reference, there really isn't that wide of a gap between the two. The regular line-up of beers have their recipes set, it is the seasonals and one-offs where the creativity occurs. The goal is the same: To make outstanding beer and keep the customers happy. I'd say the only drawback of the "chain" is perhaps public perception of that fact. Somehow it comes across that our beers are maybe not as authentic as that of an independent brewery. That gets to me sometimes knowing how much time I spend here ensuring just the opposite of that notion.
Q: The Columbus market is exploding with new breweries. Why do you think there’s such an interest in craft beer in the state capital now?
A: I think it was just a matter of time. The craft beer movement is pushing into the markets that were once maybe a little slow to catch on to the trend. When people are demanding a product, entrepreneurs are going to open breweries to satisfy that demand. Great beer events like the Columbus Beer Fest do a great job of pulling in people that may not originally be interested in craft beer and make them believers. In that regard, I think it is only the beginning for Columbus. There are still a lot of beer drinkers here that are yet to be "reborn" to craft beer which means there is still a lot of room for more breweries to fill in. The more, the better, in my opinion.
Q: What’s your best-selling beer and why do you think it’s so popular?
A: Our best-selling beer is usually our seasonal. Yet as for our regular line-up, it is Marzen. I think it sells so well because it is an approachable beer that is easy on the pallet and pairs well with a lot of different foods. At the same time, it won't knock your socks off if you have a few ... at least not completely.
Q: Which beer – any beer in the world – do you wish that you created/invented/brewed and why?
A: That’s easy, NattyDaddy, for it is beer in its pure form.