With Brewer vs Brewer, the concept always been the same: put two brewers from different breweries in the same room, make them ask each other questions, take pictures of them answering these questions, then hope to gawd that the conversation doesn’t bore our faithful readers into a coma.
But what if, instead of getting brewers from different breweries, we get brewers from the same brewery to interview each other? Right? That was the idea, The Employer vs. Employee Edition (as per the headline).
So we thought we’d round up Four Winds’ co-owner and brewmaster Brent Mills (“employer”) and brewer Kylo Hoy (“employee”) and get them to finally ask each other all the burning questions they haven’t yet gotten around to, working together in a professional capacity.
But alas, Mills and Hoy know each other so well, and spend so much time together inside and outside of work, that there just weren’t too many prodding questions left to ask each other.
Instead, the two pals geeked out over their newfound obsession, cyclocross, while The Growler geeked out over a test batch of Four Winds’ Vélo (a delicious hazy American pale ale with lemons) and asked the two of them questions instead.
Maybe we should call this The Growler vs. Four Winds Edition instead?
GROWLER: Who comes up with the recipes for you guys?
BRENT MILLS: It’s a combination. I’d say the majority of our creations are done while we’re riding bikes. We try to commute to and from work [on bikes], and then, outside of work, we spend a lot of time riding bikes.
For me – and Kylo would probably agree – riding a bike is meditative. It gives me a clear mind. It’s when the brain is most stimulated, so a lot of creative ideas come up at that point. And because we’re always riding together, we shovel ideas back and forth, which is pretty sweet.
KYLO HOY: Discussing this in a meeting is just not – it’s forced. We have tons of ideas that come out when we’re cycling. This [raises his glass of Vélo] was an idea where we wanted to try to make a beer that tastes like Gatorade. How do we do that?
GROWLER: How do you manage to balance beer culture and beer drinking with, um…
GROWLER: Athletics, yeah. It’s something I’ve had trouble balancing. I think a lot of people do in this industry, what with all those potbellies.
KH: Cut down beer consumption. That’s the first thing. We dropped a lot of weight taking up cycling.
BM: Jorden Foss [founder of Steel & Oak Brewing] has a sweet quote. He says, “When you open a brewery, you’re going to work 80 hours a week, you’re going to be broke and you’re also going to gain 30 pounds.
And it’s true. Before we opened, I was somewhat fit. Then I gained probably 40 pounds in a year. Irecently dropped some weight due to cycling, but the balance man…
KH: Just cut consumption.
BM: That’s why we love cyclocross, because it’s so beer-related. During a race, somebody in the audience will pass a beer to a cyclist, who will drink it and throw the cup in the crowd.
KH: And it’s a reason to cut back on drinking beer. It’s a competition and if you have that extra weight, you’re just not going to do as well. We’re not exactly fit right now, but this is our plan [laughs].
GROWLER: Plus, waking up hungover regularly is a bummer.
BM: Yeah, you get over it. You get to the point where you’re like, “I’ve done this enough, I’d rather feel good in the morning.” We’ve spent enough late nights drinking beer that I don’t desire to do it too often anymore, which is funny. I never thought the day would come. Maybe it’s an aging thing, or it’s an excessive thing, like this has happened far too many times. Enough is enough.
KH: For me, I work so hard here for so many hours, and on the weekend, we have, what, two days? And one of those is all messed up because of a huge hangover? I’m not saying that I don’t get out and get lit. This happens –
BM: Oh it happens.
KH: – but it’s nice to cut it back. Especially once this cyclocross season comes.
GROWLER: Do either of you have any reservations or guilt about making alcohol for a living, like how that might affect people?
KH: I’ve thought of that, but we’re making a craft product that should not just be consumed as a 12-pack in one day. It’s a pricier product, and I don’t think people are going to treat it that way. I hope they’re not drinking it just to get drunk. It’s more of a taste thing.
But I’ve thought of that. I’ve had the guilt [laughs], especially when I’m making it and getting drunk doing it.
BM: I was just in Denmark, which is one of the fast-growing craft brewing destinations in the world. Their beer styles are very progressive and their beers are very well done. But you can only buy single bottles – 350ml single bottles. There are no six packs, no four packs, just single bottles. Their culture is designed around tasting and appreciation, whereas in North America it’s just about consumption.
KH: Quantity and cost. But it is changing here.
GROWLER: It’s even worse in England. The culture seems designed to get you loaded quickly, selling four-packs of tallboys for like £4.
KH: It’s funny. I have a British guy staying at my house right now. He works at some pub, and he said that he got in trouble for pouring pints right up to the brim with no head. It’s different in England – they want their beer filled to the brim and you’re cheating them if you give them the head. Anyone in the craft brewing industry knows that the head can show you so much about the beer, about how well made it is.
BM: Beer drinking cultures around the world are interesting. Back to the topic of producing beer or alcohol as a product that’s potentially – well, definitely poisonous, because just by definition, alcohol is poisonous – the craft beer movement around the world is taking the step back from overconsumption of beer. They’re making it more of a conscious drink, where you have to think about it, rather than drinking it without thinking about it.
You want foam on your beer. You don’t want to look at it as this beer that will get me this much more drunk if it’s filled to the top than if it’s not filled to the top. Whereas with craft beer, you don’t even care. Well, I’d prefer sometimes that beer have zero alcohol so I can continue to drink it [laughs] but it’s not going to happen. Alcohol is tasty.