Karl Spiesman is the brewer and co-founder at Brick & Barrel. The Cleveland brewery shows off Spiesman's love of the Cleveland Indians with beer names such as Bitter Chief IPA and Little Chief Pale Ale.
Question: Why did you become a brewer?
Answer: I became a brewer because I worked at wineries. They caught wind of masterful stainless steel tank and barrel cleaning. When you can master diligent cellar janitoring, the next step is getting into the brewhouse as a brewer. I got to learn from some amazing brewers and great brewing companies. I love the process, all of the challenges of brewing and working around with and along industry people. That to me was why I wanted to continue to evolve in the brewing industry.
Q: What has been the highlight of your brewing career so far and why was it so special? (Maybe it's been a beer that you brewed, an award that you won, an idol you've met ...)
A: Great question. Just opening my own brewery in my home city of Cleveland and working with my family, the community of craft beer drinkers and local brewers around me. Itís been more rewarding than any style or award. Great Community here in Cleveland.
Q: What advice can you give future brewers to be successful?
A: Work in a brewery. Read. Clean. Clean. Sanitize. Sanitize. Brew. Learn from failing. It willl happen time and time again. There will be some great beers and only ones your grandma will like (Iím current champion in all categories of the GFBA award). Learning the process is extremely important but perfection in your cleaning, sanitation and quality control is definite.
Also, utilize your community of craft beer and non-craft beer drinkers around you. They will give you a lot of important opinions and constructive criticism. Also, utilize the brewers around you, professionals and non alike. They are all extremely intelligent and have a lot to offer. Donít burn bridges. I see that too often at times.
Q: Whatís your best-selling beer and why do you think itís so popular?
A: Bitter Chief IPA. It sounds foolish but I havenít brewed one the same since we opened. I have literally taken everyoneís opinion and criticism to continue to find a good blend of what people like. I love IPAs along with all other styles, but realizing that is the most popular style in the U.S. ( at our taproom definitely) and one that people will continuously ask for, it's a must for me to take into consideration the overall demand. The Bitter Chief, a nod to our baseball team, also helps sometimes.
Q: Which beer Ė any beer in the world Ė do you wish that you created/invented/brewed and why?
A: For myself, itís more style than a particular brewery. The German lager or Scotch ale (also real ale). Iíve never been to Germany, but when I go, I will exhaustively drink German lagers and ales, too, of course. But for me, the first game changing beer was Weihenstephaner lager and anything the brewery made.
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Also, close behind is Traquair House Ale. Jacobite Ale, anything from the House really. Had to throw that in. They are refreshing, delicious, complex and just great to enjoy anytime.