Mark Crnjak is the brewer and one of the co-founders of the new Missing Falls Brewery in downtown Akron. The brewery — which carries the tagline "Making Water Aweseome" — is located inside the Canal Place complex, which once served as the site of the B.F. Goodrich tire company.
Question: Why did you become a brewer?
Answer: During my travels in the Navy, I developed a love of beers from different regions in the world. And when I returned home in 1996, the American craft beer wave was gaining momentum. I really never thought of becoming a homebrewer yet a professional brewer. Around 2000, a friend of mine bought me a “beer in a box” homebrew kit as something to do while I was going through treatment for cancer (I'm all good now).
Well, let's just say that the beer I made with that kit turned out absolutely dreadful, I mean it was awful, rat piss-like. Even though that first batch was a failure, I was intrigued and interested in learning the process to successfully make drinkable homebrew. And so my homebrewing hobby was born, starting with stove top recipe kits and buckets, moving to recipe books and a “Frankenstein” homebrew kit, consisting of turkey fryer burners and an assortment of pots, hoses and valves. Then onto creating my own recipes and experimenting with different brewing techniques. At the end of homebrewing, I had aligned myself with three other friends who shared the same passion and dedication to the craft that I have. It was just the next step, to open a brewery/taproom.
Q: What's the story behind the name Missing Falls?
A: The name “Missing Falls Brewery” all started as a joke. When I was homebrewing, I dreamed of opening a brewery and wanted to call it “Small City Brewing Co.” so I checked around and no one else was using the name “Small City." I decided to call my homebrew operation a different name, so the name “Small City” was not used and I could get a trademark on it in the near future.
I called my homebrew Missing Falls Brewery due to the fact that the city I live in is Munroe Falls and they had just removed the waterfall after which the city gets its name from. At the time I came up with the name, it was just Will Myers and myself. We both were good friends with Sean Hamilton and Kenny Davis, but had not joined forces yet. (Sean and Kenny were known as Bearded Axe Brewing).
After a few collaboration brew sessions with Sean and Kenny, I knew we had to join teams. We took on the name Missing Falls Brewery and have never looked back, just forward to someday opening a brewery.
*Side note: I had asked the other guys if we should go by the name Small City Brewing, which I had originally intended since the get-go. We asked around and the public response was that they liked the name Missing Falls Brewery better. Hell, I guess it fits us; just four friends brewing, in a garage, in December, at 28°F, talking about someday opening a brewery.
Q: What are your favorite and least favorite craft beer trends right now?
A: I'm kinda liking the trend of kettle sours and gose beers. I know it's a hard sell to some craft beer drinkers, but I appreciate the complexity of the taste. There are numerous ways to approach the flavor profiles of these styles, which make for endless possibilities. Also, when a newbie tries their first one and they are impressed with the style, it's like opening up a new corridor in the craft brew Labyrinth.
And on the flip side of the coin, not sure if it's a trend (I sure hope not): I have read/heard about brewers/breweries rushing to push a beer out. Whether it's not long enough second fermentation time, no cold crash, no brite tank, rushed carbonation, or numerous other things just to get it available. In my opinion I believe this is not going to help the industry. I fully understand that no one wants an empty tap handle, but no one wants a rushed product either. That's why at Missing Falls Brewery we take the term “craft” very seriously. To us, craft means “crafted/hand crafted;" it's something to be proud of not rushed. That's why we are craft through and through, from grain to glass, we are hands on and taking pride.
Q: If someone stopped by your brewery and had time for only one pint and asked for your best beer, what would you hand him or her and why? (And just assume the person enjoys all styles.)
A: Now that's a tough question. I could easily state reasons for any of our beers to be our “best” at Missing Falls. I guess if I had one shot to impress I would go with Langered, our Irish red ale. And now for the why; I believe that our Irish red hits right in the middle of the spectrum of beers we currently have on draft. It has everything that you could possibly look for in a craft beer. From its rich smooth malt backbone to the crisp finish with a slight touch of lingering hops to its medium red hue with a moderately laced white head, Langered, in my opinion, is a craft beer that will make you want another craft beer.
Q: Which beer – any beer in the world – do you wish that you created/brewed and why?
A: This one is easy for me to answer, I have been asked this many times. For me, my go-to beer, my if I could only have one beer the rest of my days, is Jackie O's Mystic Mama. Now if I could have just brewed/created that first.
It's the perfect beer to me. It has a fistful of hops, just a great IPA. With all the hop punch it offers, it is not overbearing or pallet crushing. After your first one, ya kinda want another. This is why I wish that I created/brewed it.
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