Dan Shaffer is the brewer at Land-Grant Brewing Co. in Columbus. The production brewery and taproom distributes its beer in cans and on draft. It also has a tasting room inside the John Glenn Columbus International Airport.
Question: Why did you become a brewer?
Answer: I originally went to Scotland in 2012 to pursue a degree in fermentation and distillation with an eye to getting a job as a distiller over there. I quickly found that:
1) Brits aren't crazy about the idea of Americans stealing their distilling jobs.
2) I really like the more immediate pay off of making beer.
Plus, fermentation is mostly an afterthought in spirits making, but to me that's the real magic. One moment you have glorified sugar water — a week later you have delicious beer.
Q: What's the story behind the name Land-Grant?
A: The Morrill Act, or Land-Grant Act of 1862, provided land to states for the establishment of colleges focused on agriculture and farming. To me, it evokes the vibrancy and energy of college towns, but also (even though there are Land-Grant institutions in every state) calls to something uniquely Midwestern.
Q: What are your favorite and least favorite craft beer trends right now?
A: Least favorite: Putting fermentable sugars (fruit, pastries, whatever) in a can of beer and making it the consumer's responsibility to keep it cold enough that it doesn't become a missile.
Favorite: Lagers, all kinds, in particular unfiltered when I can find them.
Q: What your best-selling beer and why do you think it's so popular?
A: Stiff Arm IPA. It's popular because:
1) It's an IPA in a red can with a football player on the label brewed in Columbus, Ohio.
2) Because we brew it so much, we've been able to gradually tweak it into being the beer that we want. The various changes (water additions, malt bill, dry hopping) were subtle enough that most no one apart from the brewers would have noticed, apart from saying the current batch was particularly good. Over the course of the last three years, however, the difference is night and day.
Q: Which beer – any beer in the world – do you wish that you created/brewed and why?
A: During my time in the UK, I became a big fan of the Wild Beer Co. They brewed a fantastic spiced saison with roasted apricots and just a little wild yeast funk. It was super flavorful but eminently drinkable. It was hard to find here in the States, and is now even harder since it was discontinued. So, for very selfish reasons, I wish I brewed it so I could enjoy one after my shift today.
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