Alex Drozdowicz is the co-founder and brewer at Quenched & Tempered Brewing Co. in Grand Rapids. The one-barrel nanobrewery is located at Drozdowicz' home and doesn't feature a tasting room ... yet. Quenched & Tempered has purchased a 10-barrel brewing system and plans to open a taproom in downtown Toledo later this year. Its beers are now available at a several local bars.
Question: Why did you become a brewer?
Answer: I love the raw processes behind everything, and I love to experience the creation of something from start to finish. I love getting all the way into the blend of science and art that goes into basic processes. So I am a tradesman, a musician, a farmer, a foodie, I’ve made my own soap, captured wild yeasts from my beehive (captured a swarm of wild bees for that hive, too, actually), bred animals, rebuilt old Jeeps … I love craft beer, so it just made sense that I would try my hand at brewing.
Sometimes, I dive in, learn the ins and outs of a process and then move on. Sometimes, I fall in love and continually follow it a little further down its own path. One day, a friend and I were sitting at our favorite bar reading the tap list and said: “Wouldn’t it be fun to get our name up on that chalkboard?” And that was the day Quenched & Tempered was born.
Q: What’s the story behind the name Quenched and Tempered?
A: It is a play on words. I am a welder/welding instructor/inspector/blacksmith ... by trade. I love metal. Quenched and tempered steel is both strong and hard.
Quenching metal, heating it to its critical point and then quenching in water to cool it quickly, hardens metal so it does not deform. Tempering metal, heating it and letting it cool slowly, increases its ability to bend and twist without breaking.
I love that these words also can be used to describe personal character, as well as drinking beer. Our brewery is founded by a group of guys who are all blue-collar tradesmen. So everything from our name to our inspiration for beers to our own design and construction of our brewing system points to that craftsman theme.
Q: What are your favorite and least favorite craft beer trends now?
A: To be brutally honest, I feel a little rebellious toward all trends. They choke the market, and then that is all you can get. All of a sudden everything is barrel-aged, or you go to a bar and more than 50% of the tap list is IPAs. Trends bottleneck me into what I have to create.
That being said, I love the canning trend. I think cans lend themselves better to great artwork, which is another great trend. I love the incorporation of really creative art onto beer labels. #21stamendment #atwater
Q: Normally I ask what's your best-selling beer, but your brewery is so new. So, if you were forced to recommend one Quenched & Tempered beer and one beer only that someone should try, which one would it be and why?
A: Oaty McOatface, our oatmeal stout. While stouts are not my favorite style, I think it is a common mistake that people push the lighter, fruitier beers to get people to like craft beer. One of our founders did not think he liked craft beer until we got him to try a good stout.
Oaty is one of our main flagship beers, but also he is a sailor traveling the world, and we intend to make several variations off of his solid base recipe … and he is a dapper son of a gun (whose artwork may or may not have been modeled after me).
Q: Which beer, any beer in the world, do I wish that I created/brewed and why?
A: Budweiser. Just kidding. Oh man, that was a good one, I can just see the confused looks on the readers’ faces. Seriously, this question sort of opens Pandora’s box for me. I drink based on the season and my mood, so my answer today will change as soon as the weather shifts.
Today, I would say Saison Dupont. Saison Dupont really is the last word in saisons. It has an unassuming label, nothing on the outside to boast of its quality, but inside the bottle is a perfect beer. I would love to get to the point where one of my beers is the benchmark by which other beers in that style are measured.
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