Though often associated with big, international brewing companies, lagers are having a craft moment.
Consumers are looking for beers that can showcase new hops, and clean lagers are a perfect vessel. But there are also non-craft drinkers that want crisp, refreshing beers. With nearly 9,000 breweries now in the U.S., more options from this category are available than ever before, and many are brewed locally.
To tap into this trend, Beer Editor John Holl speaks with Todd DiMatteo, owner and brewer of Good Word Brewing & Public House in Georgia, and Khristopher Johnson, founding brewer and co-owner of Green Bench Brewery in Florida, about the current state of American craft lagers, and where to turn for your next delicious sip.
From familiar styles with new-age hops to collaborations that revive forgotten substyles, there sure is a lot of love for lagers these days. So grab a pint and enjoy the lager lowdown.
Be sure to check out our Beer Buying Guide at winemag.com/ratings for dozens of recent ratings and reviews of lagers from near and far. Embrace the new wave of lager greatness with this cheat sheet to 25 of our favorite craft lagers to drink right now, and read more about our first two 100-point beers, both of which are lagers.
Transcripts are generated using a combination of speech recognition software and human transcribers, and may contain errors. Please check the corresponding audio before quoting.
Lauren Buzzeo 0:08
Hello and welcome to the Wine Enthusiast Podcast, your serving of drinks culture and the people who drive it. I’m Lauren Buzzeo, the managing editor at Wine Enthusiast, and in this episode, we’re talking about a popular pour for summertime fun: lagers. Largely associated with big international brewing companies, lagers are having a craft moment. Consumers are looking for beers that can showcase new hops and clean lagers are a perfect vessel. But there are also non-craft drinkers that want crisp, clean, refreshing beers that suit their tastes. And with nearly 9,000 breweries now in the US, they’re finding more options brewed locally. To tap into this trend, Beer Editor John Holl speaks with Todd DiMatteo, owner and brewer of Good Word Brewing and Public House in Georgia, and Khristopher Johnson, founding brewer and co-owner of Green Bench Brewery in Florida, about the current state of American craft lagers and where to turn for your next delicious sip. So grab a pint of your favorite cold one and enjoy the lager lowdown.
John Holl 1:15
Beer festivals are coming back this summer. When you go amid the siren calls of hops or flavored Imperial Stouts, stop for a moment and look behind the brewery tables to see what the brewers themselves are drinking. It’s likely lager or pilsner. The best known style of beer the ones produced by large international brewing companies have been receiving the craft treatment. This is nothing new. Of course, Sam Adams launched with a lager in 1984. But ales especially IPA and pale ale were a craft styles of choice as that segment of the industry grew. Now as we near 9,000 breweries in the United States, lagers are going small, getting a closer look and being tinkered with. And there’s also a sense of preserving flavors and history. And so I’m really pleased to have two brewers that are on the crisp edge of lagers and pilsners these days. Christopher Johnson, he’s the founding brewer and co-owner of Green Bench Brewery in Florida, and Todd DiMatteo. He’s the owner and brewer of Good Word Brewing and Public House in Georgia. Gentlemen, welcome to the program.
Todd DiMatteo 2:15
Hey, there. Thanks for having me.
Khristopher Johnson 2:17
What’s up, man? Glad to be here.
John Holl 2:20
Khris, let me let me start with you. I’ll work my way south to north. What do you see as the current state of lagers in the craft space in the US right now?
Khristopher Johnson 2:30
Well, I think I think that typically, you know, at least from from my perspective, with lager there’s intrigue, kind of happening around us. And I think obviously, most of that always starts with the brewers and then sort of trickles down to the consumer. As you know, we as producers get interested, we want to learn more, we make it and then of course, we’re serving it to people who then have an opportunity to kind of delve into the things that we’re fascinated by and that we’re interested in at the moment. So I think by starting with sort of brewers who were just kind of maybe, you know, a little fatigued with the kind of beers that we all grew up drinking, getting into beer is either home brewers or, you know, small market breweries, you got to think go back, at least when we started, you know, cigar city was kind of the big thing in the Tampa Bay area where we are. And when I worked at Cigar City, we weren’t making lager. The notion was like, you know, you could get a lager everywhere. But what you can’t get are these IPAs. So all we were drinking were things like that, and it was great. And you know, we still love those. But I think as more and more—now there’s, you know, 350 breweries in the state of Florida. And you can get an IPA everywhere. And we get a little fatigued by going to every brewery and drinking that. So I think we got a little interested in trying beers that we can maybe session a lot more, finding ways of becoming better at what we do. And I think looking back at sort of traditional styles that maybe we weren’t trained in, that we didn’t really know a whole lot about, because of that sort of mindset in craft beer at the time, it just gave us something new to sort of grasp and learn. And also they’re super great and easy to drink. So our interest turned into our development of them. And then overall, I think the market has really responded to it in a way that is pleasing to Me. You know, there’s a market for for lager, so it’s good.
John Holl 4:20
Todd, when you opened up, I’m curious if, as Khris said, lagers were everywhere so people were making ales and making IPAs. But there’s still always people who were walking in who were not necessarily craft beer drinkers, who were looking for a Miller Lite or looking for a Coors Light. In thinking about your tap lineup now, would you be able to survive and run a brewery if you didn’t have lagers on tap?
Todd DiMatteo 4:45
Um, yeah, I think you could, honestly. But yeah, it’s funny, you mentioned that. I’ll back up a little bit and say kind of where I started. So I started in 2005. I’ve been in the service industry a little bit before that, but in 2005 I started working at Brick Store Pub in Decatur. And, you know, my mind was definitely blown with Belgian beer and just beers from all across the country as well, because I moved from Asheville. Asheville at that time, Highland was was definitely, you know, king of the castle, but I was drinking that, some Sweetwater and some Guinness and I thought, well, ‘Surely there’s nothing besides this stuff.’ And then starting at Brick Store, after that, I was like, holy crap, there’s just so much more out there.
John Holl 5:27
And Brick Store, I’ll point out, is one of the great beer bars in the United States right now, and has been for quite some time.
Todd DiMatteo 5:35
Yep, yep. They opened in, in ’97 . Like I said, I joined them a few years after that. But anyway, so for the first couple years that I was there, I was like, delving into all this Belgian beer, and surely, after that, I fell in love with American IPAs, and that was when of the bitter boom was kind of going on, you know, the lagers. I remember drinking when I was younger, and getting them illegally from an uncle or whatever, drink like Red Stripe or something like that. So I was definitely not lagers fan in my early 20s. I started homebrewing in the last couple years, I was at Brick Store, and I left there in, I think, 2015 and I’ve dumped every lager that I homebrewed because, you know, it just didn’t turn out the way I wanted. So, we did know that we were going to brew lager and English beer when we opened Good Word. But yeah, when we opened in 2017, we put our first lager in tanks and you have to remember, you know, we’re in this little town, it’s a suburb of Atlanta, called Duluth. We have people sneaking in Miller Lites and stuff like that. And I used to work the floor, as well as being the brewer. And I remember telling a couple of guests like, ‘Are you freaking kidding me? You’re bringing in a Miller Lite? We have a Mexican lager on or we have an American South Pilsner.’ So there’s definitely a little bit of a battle. But going back to answer your question, I think you could still open a place and not do that. But you know, I’m 41. And I’ll tell you what, if I go to a brewery and not to, you know, poop on anybody, if there’s just a bunch of hazy IPAs, I’m trying to get up there. But if I were to, you know, stumble upon a place and just had that I’d probably get bored really quick. And Chris mentioned fatigue a couple of times, it’s definitely the term I use, when I talk about palate fatigue with hazy beers. They still have a place, you know, but the flavors just get so lost. And they’re just so much more nuanced in lager brewing. We were only four years in, you know, when the pandemic first hit, we went from having, you know, two to three lagers, on to having like, you know, five to seven, because I was like, I don’t know what’s gonna happen so I just filled all the FTs with lagers and it’s like, let’s just see where this goes.
John Holl 7:45
Your fermentation tanks?
Todd DiMatteo 7:47
Yeah, the fermentation tanks. And so now we’re trying to figure out how to expand and, you know, replace tanks and stuff like that. We’re a 10 barrel, three vessels brew house, so we’re pretty small. And I’ve been the only person back there full time, up until about two weeks ago. A guy who we hired as a host, then move to server. And then the bartender has been helping me part time for about four months. And so now I’ve got him full time. So we’re hoping to wrap things up. But you know, I’m the main, the main Brewer back there. So it ends up being, you know, a lot of work for a little guy like me, but I love lager beer, and, you know, I think you guys are, we’re starting to say this is just so much nuance and so much going on with lagers. It’s like we’re still just, us personally, are just dipping our feet in the water. We haven’t fully gone in. But that’s where my heart is for sure. Well, and English beer. I love English beer.
John Holl 8:43
That’s gonna be a whole other podcast, for sure. But it’s interesting to hear that people were sneaking in Miller Lites to your place. Because, yeah, it was for a very long time, this association with craft brewers, craft breweries, taprooms, where the Miller Lite drinker couldn’t get something for themselves. And I’m curious, Khris, have you seen a change in consumers, as lagers have become a bigger part of your brewery’s identity? Are there new consumers that feel like okay, this is a beer that I can drink, whereas those IPAs weren’t?
Khristopher Johnson 9:21
That’s a really interesting question. So our demographic has definitely evolved. So we turn eight this year, we opened in 2013. And, you have to kind of go back and look at what the climate was when we opened. We were the first brewery in St. Petersburg, the first production brewery here. So there really wasn’t a market. You know, there wasn’t even a group of people that were really all that interested or knew what the hell they were getting into when they walked in the door. So it was it was we were very heavy on education, always have been. And we typically try to express what we’re interested in more than what the market seems like it’s interested in, if that makes any sense. Like, for example, we’ll make beers, even if it means there’s going to be an uphill battle on education. And I think by sort of positioning ourselves that way from day one, we’ve done a really good job of building a market for ourselves, our own market, that trusts us when they come in, that I don’t think that the typical clientele in St. Petersburg could walk into every brewery in St. Pete, or even to the state of Florida, and feel as confident in what they’re getting into. Because we we preach quality and communication with exactly what we’re doing, how we’re doing it, and then why we’re doing it. I don’t think that that is what everyone does, especially here in town. So I think that when we first opened, while we weren’t making lagers right away, and that was a development that grew into probably 2015 was kind of when we really started making lager. And to be to be completely frank, the reason we didn’t was not because I didn’t think there was a market for it, but more because I wasn’t confident that I could do it the way that I wanted to do it, like I wasn’t ready. And so and part of that was kind of what I was saying earlier is, you know, how I was trained, was not to make lager. The notion was, like I said earlier, you can either you can, that’s the one thing you can get everywhere, why the hell would I make it? The second was, it takes, you know, double the amount of time and more energy to make the same volume when I can flip, at the time we’re doing Jai Alai all the time in Cigar City. So, you know, I can make this much Jai Alai in the same amount of time?
John Holl 11:37
And that’s your IPA?
Khristopher Johnson 11:38
Yeah, the core brand IPA for Cigar City Brewing in Tampa, where I was working and that was kind of the notion because that was really the only craft brewery in town. You know, we had saved somewhere to Tampa Bay Brewing companies and Dunedin Brewing Company. But now there’s, you know, over there’s nearly 180 breweries in Tampa Bay, but back then there were four or five. And so I wasn’t trained on how to make lager. I didn’t know how to make lager. And even on a homebrew level in Florida, nobody was really making lager. There were a few people making it, but it required a lot of equipment. You know, we didn’t have a cellar for even ale, frankly. It required a refrigerator where you can keep your temperature colder because lager ferments considerably colder than ales do. It takes a lot longer because of that slower fermentation. So that’s just not a it’s not the world that I was living in. It’s not like what I was trained on. So I spent those first couple of years knowing that eventually I wanted to make not just a lager, but a core brand lager for our brand, and there really weren’t any in the state. So I decided, you know, I would spend those couple of years learning as much as I could, absorbing and drinking as much as I could and just trying to be a sponge to the process, because I wasn’t confident in my abilities. Now, I will say that our consumer definitely would walk in and not be pretentious. And yeah, they were Miller Light drinkers or Coors or Bud, whatever it was. Another big one here in Florida honestly, is import. We’re a pretty big import state, but very specifically, it’s like Latin lager so Corona, Modelo—we have Modelo actually to a lower extent, that’s actually more what people in craft drink, but there’ll be a ton of like Corona drinkers, Dos XX, here in Florida. So they’re used to sort of beach beers and that kind of thing. And the closest thing that I could make at the time, although it was a very difficult explanation was anything in the sort of the Belgian category that was really more farmhouse leaning. Table, Farmhouse ales, French Belgian style beers that were really dry, really crisp, very effervescent, can have a varying level of bitterness or hot character, yeast forward. But that was really the closest thing that I could make at the time, those first two, three years of us being open, that I think flavor wise, could really hook someone who ultimately wasn’t really into beers, or didn’t know anything about them at the time. With that said, it was very difficult to talk a person that liked Miller Lite, that walked in to say like, well, I don’t have that. But I have this 100% oak fermented farmhouse ale and a custom-built Foudres. Yeah, so it was all about lexicon, it was all about really holding everyone’s hand through the process. And eventually, once we started making lagers, the transition, luckily, at that point wasn’t too hard because we had built a consumer that trusted what we were giving them. Because at first, they’d say, I don’t want that. I don’t know what that means. And they start trying and they’re like, ‘Oh, actually, this is good. Maybe I should listen to you.’ And then we kind of built that sort of—that was our foundation. And then when we move forward, and we start to make lager, the beauty is now a bunch of breweries make lager all around us. But typically, you walk in and there’s like one lager on tap, which is fine. And, you know, similar to what Todd was saying, you know, we’re at a point now where we have at least at all times, we have at least four lagers on tap. Typically we’re up to like six or so at a time. We’ve gone up to eight, nine, 10 at a time just having them on Tap in our tasting room. And similarly to him, you know, when COVID hit, that’s exactly what we did. I was like, it was perfect timing, because we have a, we also have a three vessels system, ours is 15 barrel, which is, you know, roughly 500 gallons worth of beer per batch. And the three vessels allows us to play around with some interesting techniques, really old world processes like decoction, which is, you know, this this old way of brewing beer that typically most people really don’t do anymore. And not necessarily saying you have to do it, but we were interested in experimenting with it and trying to become better brewers by learning techniques and processes that we weren’t trained on. So it was like homebrewing again. It was like trying a technique that no one around, you knew how to do to try to figure out, you know, what it really brings to the table. And so we had a lot of time on our hands to be able just to make crazy traditional lager, and really let them sit as long as we really wanted to, because there was nothing, there was nothing behind it that needed to happen with the shutdown. So yeah, we spent a lot of time this last year. And I think we’re at a point now where people come in really expecting to read something on the menu they’ve never heard of, and then they get kind of excited, because that’s, that’s part of the experience of coming to Green Bench. They don’t know where it is, but I know it’s gonna at least be quality and made, you know, to a really high level because these guys really care about it.
John Holl 16:20
Can I ask you to just go back just for half an sec, you mentioned the time and energy that goes into lagers versus ales. For somebody who doesn’t, you know, fully know the big difference, what is the time and energy in a longer? It’s weeks of fermentation versus, in some cases for some ales, days?
Khristopher Johnson 16:41
Absolutely. Yeah. So like, I guess to make that very simple, you know, ale ferments a little bit warmer. And the yeast kind of moves a little bit quicker. And it ferments faster and lager ferments it’s colder, it moves a little slower and takes a lot longer. And then there’s a process post-fermentation with lager where you get the beer really, really cold. And the purpose here is to basically very slowly clean up anything left for fermentation until you get this really clean profile on the back end, but that takes weeks and weeks and weeks of time. So even from the brewhouse side, which is the day that we brew, you know, a typical brew on an ale, say an IPA, is going to take us about four hours to brew that beer. If we’re doing a decoction, you can go ahead and add an hour and a half to that day alone. So it’s fairly labor intensive, even on the production side—on the brewing side, rather, the work production. And then when you get to fermentation, because it’s longer, like our core brand IPA is Sunshine City IPA that, like I can flip that beer. Typically, we flipped that beer, like in 17 days from grain to glass, because we go through two dry hops on it, and you could technically brew an IPA in like 13 days if you really wanted to. And then our lagers like Postcard Pils, I mean, that’s an eight week beer. And that’s a fairly quick flip, even for a lager. There’s some of our lagers that will literally sit eight weeks in lagering. And that’s on top of, or even 10 weeks in lagering or 12, sometimes, and that’s on top of 10 to 14 days of primary fermentation. So you could be anywhere from 13 to 20 days on an ale and you could be anywhere from, you know, eight weeks to 20 weeks on a lager.
John Holl 18:28
Todd, are there still people bringing Miller Lite to your bar?
Todd DiMatteo 18:32
No, not that I know of. I mean, if they are they’re pretty slick about it. I mean, we’ve got a few different pale lagers on. But, you know, part of that is, one when you come to a place that’s not in the city, and there’s not this huge demographic of mature beer drinkers. And I mean that with love and respect in my heart, but you know, I mean, like, when there’s a young beer audience, and they’re few and far between, they’re gonna bring their uncles or their friends or whoever that don’t understand that craft isn’t just this and they can also be that kind of thing. So yeah, I don’t think so. But you know, I could be wrong. And there’s always plays for you know, macro beers if not inside of these four walls. I actually didn’t know that you worked at Cigar City, Khris. And you know, at Brick Store we always had Cigar City stuff on. Hai Alai was the main one, of course, but one of my first craft lagers that I remember, like really loving and I would say that it’s a little tradition after every Saturday shift I’d bring the day staff out and we’d, chug a Hotter Than Helles from Cigar City, and it was fantastic. So that’s kind of it’s kind of ironic. And then I had it, I took I made a case or two down to the Florida Keys and was catching fish and drinking Hotter Than Helles. And that’s when I really started, you know, opening my own mind up and again, you know, I’m in my 40s and I think was probably in my early 30s at that point, somewhere in there. So it makes it a little haze with with my lager drinking, but I think more lagers than anything, and Postcard Pils is definitely delicious.
John Holl 20:10
I do think that Hotter Than Helles, that has a name change now, right? Is it is it just Cigar City Lager these days.
Khristopher Johnson 20:16
I appreciate that. Todd, I’m glad you dug that beer and obviously, Postcard. So Hotter Than Helles was obviously upon because it’s hot as hell in Florida. Yeah. And Helles is a style of beer. It’s it’s basically a pale lager German, traditional German pale lager. And so it was essentially a thirst quenching beer to have in a super hot environment that is Florida. And yeah, unfortunately, it didn’t sell very well. And, of course, like, in all the focus groups, everyone, at least in Florida that heard it was like, oh, it has peppers in it, it must be super hot, you know. And like that was… so Cigar City had to change the name, they changed the name. And they’ve adjusted the recipe a little bit to, I think, to kind of meet the new branding a little bit more. So it’s actually, while it’s still a fairly traditional beer, it doesn’t have as much of a bite as it used to, it doesn’t have like the hop characters, as the Helles did. It’s a little bit even, like sort of tamer on that character. And they just call that the Florida-style lager, or Tampa-style lager, is what they call it. This very simple, kind of inspired by Munich Helles, but not as aggressive.
John Holl 21:21
I love that you don’t work there anymore, but you’re still doing the job of selling the beer for them. That’s very, very kind. Todd, the Miller Lite thing is intriguing to me. And you’re right about folks who might bring an uncle or dad or you know, mom or whoever, who aren’t familiar, and who only know the craft world as some of these IPAs that we were talking about earlier. We were also talking about nuance of flavor. And, you know, while those macro beers taste exactly like they’re supposed to taste, I think smaller batch lagers and ones that pay homage to history can really have a lot of depth and a lot of nuance from very simple ingredients. And for somebody who walks through your door, when they say okay, I’m a Coors Banquet drinker, I’m a Bud Light drinker, what, you know, what do you have that’s for me? How do you use that opportunity to educate them on what small batch lagers can really taste like? Like, what it draws on, what they might be familiar with? But then going deeper? What are those conversations like?
Todd DiMatteo 22:32
So on our menu, actually put something that kind of says, ‘Hey, this is our lager approach.’ And it kind of goes through, you know, just a general synopsis of how we, you know, treat our beers from aging process to step mashing and all that kind of stuff. One, it kind of builds that this isn’t just, you know, a macro light beer, like, there’s something to this, like, we’re kind of helping build the story for, you know, potentially an untrained palate to appreciate it. Because when you give gravitas to something, then you’re like, ‘Oh, I must, I have to appreciate this because they do.’ So that’s why a lot of times when you go to a place and it might only have one lager, you’re like, oh, there’s brewing it for the uncle or the whatever. But when you come to a place like Khris said in Florida, however many, like, holy shit, they care about this. So we try to set them up with a menu first off that, you know, lends itself to that. And then the beer description, you know, a lot of times, tell them what malts I’m using and delve into the process a little bit, but I think it goes really to education for the staff. And so my business partner is a certified cicerone. And, you know, BJCP judge, and so like, we have beer school to try to train the staff. But the goal isn’t to like knock people over the head with like, ‘Oh, we know so much,’ just to go back and say like, oh, if you’re a Coors Banquet drinker, you want something that’s like, a little more full than our Pilsner, and maybe not quite as bitter, or whatever it may be, you know what I mean? So we can learn them down a road, so we’re not just hitting them with a, you know, German-style Pils where it’s super bitter. It’s like, well, what do you like? Oh, I’m actually an IPA drinker, but you know, I want something that’s, you know, not quite as aggressive. And we’ll hit them with something that’s a little more bitter or taken down the English bitter road, even though that’s not for this podcast. But really, it’s trying to get that information upfront from from the servers and the bartenders and, and I’ll be honest with you, I’m not saying everybody here is like amazing, but the goal is to get them this great beer knowledge. Because, you know, we’re always hiring new folks and just trying to get them up to speed. But we have a good core group that is here to answer any kind of questions that somebody who’s newer might have. So, beer knowledge. I mean, it’s the biggest piece of this whole thing for us, at least.
John Holl 24:57
Khris, where does education for lagers… where does that conversation happened inside of your brewery?
Khristopher Johnson 25:03
We try to not have too much of a difference between what we what we say behind the sort of bar, and then, you know, in front of people as well. I, you know, typically the way it all starts is, you know, it’ll be from me, you know, really being interested in a specific style, and usually communicating with either friends of mine that I’ve been inspired by that style in the industry that I can sort of pick their brains a little bit on process, or tradition, and all of that, and a research phase. And I typically am pretty open about sharing any of that with any of our staff members. So that when and if they want to talk about that with a consumer, if they have the ability to, because sometimes it’s not what everyone wants to even hear. But if they feel like it’s something that the that the consumer is interested in, they’re privy to that information. So we try to make sure that like, whatever it is that I do know, is available, even for the consumer to know. I typically don’t really hold anything back. So once we produce the beer, there’s generally just a process of like, you know, tasting it and posting it on our Slack channel, internally to say like, this is the tasting notes I got, this is the process it was made, and why we brewed it, and then they kind of then have the ability to taste it themselves, and then be able to talk about it with the customer. When it comes to like the bulk of our descriptions and stuff for the beers, it kind of depends on the beer. At our main tasting room—we have we have two tasting rooms here—in the main tasting room, we have, you know, kind of just a board with beer on it, and then we’ll have a very short description of what it is. But then our staff usually takes whatever opportunity they can to kind of elaborate on whatever that is in front of the customer. Because that’s usually it’s more of more of a fast paced process, where someone’s kind of in line, they kind of come up, they order their beer, when they get it, they walk—right now, because of COVID it’s like the weird protocols, we’ve had. So people come in, they walk through kind of a, it’s like you’re in like a like a amusement park or something that is, you know, stationed off, sort of line. So they kind of zip around through the line, order their beer, they walk outside, and there’s a window that we actually give them their beers at outside and then go to the beer garden, because we have a pretty big outdoor space.
John Holl 27:15
That doesn’t seem complicated at all, my goodness.
Khristopher Johnson 27:17
Right? So the conversation piece is not as I think extravagant as it used to be, because we don’t really a bar seating in the main facility anymore. It’s all outdoor seating. So we try to have as much of a conversation right away when someone says like, you know, and usually we’ll let the customer usually open up the question, and they’ll say, you know, what’s the difference between this and this and then gives the staff an opportunity to kind of say, you know, well, this is a, this is a Dunkel. And then this is a this is Tmave, like this is, this is a Czech-style dark lager, and this is a German dark lager. And here are the differences, you know, and we pour this one this way, because of this reason, and in this glassware, because of this reason. And if you then go over to like Webb City Cellar, our second tasting room, which typically is about fermentation forward beers. It’s mostly going to be things that honestly have a lot, a lot of similarities, oftentimes more with wine than they do with beer. We serve them in a wine glass, it feels like you’re in a wine bar when you’re in there. And that’s a lot more about deliberate education. But we maintain that we always have at least an IPA and and a lager on tap, usually Pilsner on tap in Webbs for anybody that maybe is not ready to dive into some of those more adventurous barrel aged beers, and mixed culture stuff. So that’ll have like a paragraph description, like we really don’t hold anything back on our menu on that side. Because the the sort of point of coming over to Webbs is to kind of immerse yourself in maybe a little bit more depth than you would just grabbing a beer and going out in the beer garden and hanging out with your friends. And that one will have like a paragraph about the Pilsner about the process about what went into it, and then what we do. And then of course, if you sit at the bar, which we do have bar seating over in Webbs, you will have an opportunity to talk to our staff who are extremely well educated over there. I mean, they are very well trained. And they know, pretty much they can answer virtually any question that you’re going to be able to ask them.
John Holl 29:14
So I like that you guys keep introducing new topics for completely different podcasts between, you know, the wine experience with beer and now English style as well. So you guys are guaranteeing that I’m going to ask you back for this.
Todd DiMatteo 29:27
That was the plan.
John Holl 29:28
Yeah. Todd, Khris had mentioned your service and glassware and pouring techniques. There is a little bit of theater that comes with lagers, as well. And I mean, a lot of it is sensory, but talk just a little bit about, you know, beer dispense and beer serving when it comes to lagers and what folks in your mind should be looking out for or getting excited about.
Todd DiMatteo 29:58
Yeah, for sure. So remember, the first luster sider pull tap we ordered. I think Brick Store had one or two and I think that The Porter had one or two. And then outside of that no one else in Georgia had them, which is like whatever but it’s kind of, you know, interesting to order this little tap and just so folks know, it’s just basically a ball valve, just open-close, but there’s endless videos out there and ways to pour it and pour it properly. And you had originally wire money to the Czech Republic to get these things and you waited like, I don’t know, four to six weeks to get them. So it’s like, oh my gosh, it’s like Christmas when it came in, figuring out how to pour those was definitely a big deal. You know, because those things, there’s several different ways to pour them. Like there’s the milko pour that’s like almost all foam and you know, sometimes when you put that in front of someone again, this is a young beer market, Georgia in general, I feel like, especially out in the ‘burbs where we are, if I serve a beer full of foam, people would be like what in the hell is this necessary. Now trust me foam is beer and foam protects beer. Well, we try to train our bartenders, not just with the side pulls, but we have Celli’s for the other ones. So like start with a little foam cap, and then pour through the foam because the foam’s going to protect the beer the whole way through. But foam is important. You know glassware is important. We have beautiful pieces of glass where I’m trying to think this for lagers. I think we have four glasses for lager beer. And honestly hearing Khris talk I’m like, we need to be more on our game with this friggin glassware. Just because, for a while like before we open I wanted to have three glasses just to make it super simple. Because coming from Brick Store where I was for almost 12 years, you have a glass for every beer. And I remember sometimes we wouldn’t bring in a certain brewery unless they had glassware because we wanted everything to be in branded glasses, for the most part. And so Ryan, who was our beer manager, he’s my business partner, we were like, yes, we get to escape the world of glassware a little bit and I pushed the three glasses to everyone like a four ounce and eight ounce 16 ounce just to make it easy. I went to a brew pub or bar somewhere and I saw that these guys are geniuses they have to worry about glasses. But you know you start doing it you’re like now we need glasses for specific stuff. Why would we care so much at Brick Store and then care less here at Good Word when this is actually our baby. And so of course you ended with a ton of glasses but it’s highly important you know we we have glass rinsers to rinse every glass before we pour and it’s incredibly important. But yeah, foam, we just started not to divert, but we started panning about six months ago. And so we use a little thing called a Zama Nagle, which is a great little unit but the thing hasn’t changed since like the ’60s or whatever. We naturally carbonate our beer or all of our lagers, I should say, with spawning device which capture co2 during fermentation. So we’re still working on our carbonation levels like in package because you lose a little bit of carbonation. So I’m trying to pitch my business partners on let me buy a thing called a C-box just so I could really dial everything in and top up beers because foam is so important. And you know we throw some beers as well which will help for a little bit better frothy head and all that but yeah, man I was literally talking about foam and carbonation with my business partner before this podcast.
Khristopher Johnson 33:22
C-box is nice, man.
Todd DiMatteo 33:24
We had somebody demo one and we were packaging and we had incredible DO levels. But then we saw that the carbonation… but they were really low. And I was like hell yeah, we’re this like little brew pub, putting out these cool numbers for that. And then I saw the DO level. I was like, ah, dammit. Because you know, in a Zam, it takes all the pressure in there, which I’m sure you know, but some of that’s just from the force of it coming in, John, and this device that he mentioned and I did as well, it’s like, you know, a very expensive, great piece of gear, but it gives you so much data. But anyway, that so that’s the next thing for us is like, you know, taking the package up a notch and then starting to blend beers up. So barrels, you know, some of them three years ago, and it’s now time to start figuring out that process because like I said, I started as a homebrewer. So this was all new to me four years ago, the commercial side of it at least.
John Holl 34:19
I love though, that just in explaining your lager program and the beers that you’re making, you’re really showing how in depth these beers actually are. And that it’s not just what we might see advertised during the Superbowl, or, you know, pint glasses that are being flung down at the local pub. Time, I think, in my opinion, at least as a lager drinker, time is probably the most important ingredient that goes into lager making. But there’s also been a chance for malt and grains to really shine in the lager space. Hops get all the attention in IPAs, and that’s great, and hops are obviously important in lagers as well, but there’s a lot of fun things happening malt-wise and certainly with local maltsters as well, with small batch maltsters. Have either of you had good experience with using artisanal grain, smaller batch grain? And if so, what has that done bor the overall flavor and feeling of the resulting lagers?
Khristopher Johnson 35:30
We have. We typically use imported malts for most of our lager because we’re usually trying to sort of emulate traditional beers. So you know, in most of those were importing grain. With that said, we have played around. We did one beer that was completely domestic malt. And that one, well, that’s not true, we done more than just one. But a small maltster, at least. We didn’t use Riverbend Malting for a beer that we did once. It was a pre-Prohibition Pilsner. The idea there basically trying to create, still a tradition, but trying to create a beer that tasted like pilsners likely would have tasted before prohibition happened in the early 20th century. So for that one, we elected to use their sixth row Pilsner malt, and their malted corn that was from Tennessee. So that was one where we did 100% domestic malt from a small maltster. We do have a core brand beer called bench life. It’s basically like, we call it a premium lager. It’s basically an American style light lager, a corn lager, we use US two row and US six row, as well as flaked corn from the US. So that one is also domestic malts completely. But that those aren’t necessarily from like small maltsters. Those are some some from some bigger malt providers. But typically, most of our profiles come from imported grain. But, to that end, the pre-Pro pills was amazing. Actually, the malt character was fantastic, the corn character was on another level. It provided such an incredible, not even just aroma and flavor, which were intense, and really, really, really nice. We were all super, really big fans of it. But it provided a really cool mouthfeel as well. You know, Todd talked a lot about foam, which is extremely important in beer as a whole, and very important in lagers, and how you sort of pour it. So that was one that we were really, really excited with sort of the body and the mouthfeel that we got from from using some of those domestic brands. So I definitely highly recommend that if any brewers out there interested in in trying any of those from Riverbend to do so. We actually even liked it so much we’re brewing it again, in a few weeks. And we actually basically took that exact same recipe with a friend of mine, another Brewer, we brewed a collaboration. Basically, we took that same recipe, same process, like we did a single decoction with their malt, which essentially is this process where you take the blend of water and grain, the mash, you take a portion of it away from the hole, and then you bring that to a boil, and then you add it back to increase your temperatures, it ultimately just like creates like a depth of malt character, that’s a little bit harder to get unless you’re using some under modified grain—if you’re using under modified grain that is, and that sixth row Pilsner was a bit under modified. So you kind of sort of need to do that process to really get everything out of it. Whereas most malts these days are so well modified that typically you don’t need to do that. And steps typically do the exact same thing as far as getting what you want out of it, but there is a flavor contribution you get from decoction, that you can’t really replicate. So we did a decoction, but then we put it in one of our fodders with our mixed culture and it’s sitting in barrels, and it’ll be there for like two years. So to kind of see what that would do on like a mixed culture as well. We really enjoyed that malt. So I would suggest that for anybody want to try it.
John Holl 39:15
Yeah. Todd, you’ve been doing—Khris just mentioned a lot of collaborations—but you’ve been doing a lot of collaborations in the lager space with other brewers, with at least one writer that I know of, Stan Hieronymus, and some other folks as well. In the past, beer collaborations I mean are nothing new, but in the past it always seemed to sort of be you know, let’s do double Imperial IPA and let’s do you know, something crazy with adjuncts and stouts and everything, and I’m seeing lagers as collaborations more and more these days. When you’re doing these collabs, is this just because this is what you brewers want to be drinking? And you just want to have fun with some friends and get together and make some good, drinkable lagers or is there something deeper to it?
Todd DiMatteo 40:13
Yeah, so first I want to talk about our malt a little bit. So we use Weyermann, basically, for our lagers, and I’ve used other maltsters, and the only thing and I’ll give feedback to the, you know, the grain suppliers as well as like, what my thoughts are, but a lot of times you get like, these amazing characteristics, they’re like, somewhat unrefined, like more grainy, and the corn, especially from Riverbend is amazing, for sure. It’s much more exciting than, you know flaked corn from other suppliers. But anyway, what what ends up happening, or what I found in my experience is like, the grain is really small, so you have to tighten your mill when you crush it. And so it lends itself to getting a slow or stuck mash, which is never fun for brewers. So you’re either dumping lots of holes in there, and your efficiency is really low. And so that’s the only thing that keeps me from supporting smaller maltsters. And I’ve given this feedback a ton of times, and, again, not to throw shade or whatever, but that’s the one reason like, you know, going back to kind of what Khris said, like, we use Weyermann. We know that we’re going to get 85 to 90% efficiency from the grain. And it’s like, I want to be able to rebrew this beer and know what I’m gonna get. And some that is probably not from using some of the smaller maltsters quite as much, and learning how to figure that out. I’m sure there’s plenty of breweries out there who have. Again, I love the flavor that comes from those, but I know that the consistency you get from Weyermann is not matched. Anyway, that’s what I wanted to answer that a little bit.
John Holl 41:48
I appreciate that because I mean, quality ingredients were in a style like lagers, where there’s no room for flaws, or no room to hide, using the best available. Yeah, you know, from suppliers who appreciate tradition and appreciate the flavors themselves, I think, is paramount.
Todd DiMatteo 42:04
Exactly. And that’s the thing too, like coming from the restaurant world, like, you know, I’ve been in the service industry for 20 years, a little over now. I remember when the farm to table thing was new, you know, 10, 12 years ago. And so, we’re all still doing that. So like, you want to know that your meat, and you’re this or that it’s coming from a nearby place. But I don’t think that that is exactly true from a brewer’s standpoint. And again, I’m always gonna go with quality over location, always. And, you know, we get some hops directly from how I tell, from Site’s Farm. There’s a brewery here called Halfway Crooks, and these guys went out there and met them a couple years ago, and a couple of us just pile in and get these farms, these hops directly from this farm, and the quality is amazing. You know, I’m not a big enough brewer where I can just go and like, yeah, I’ll take that lot in this lot, and whatever. So I just get whatever is packaged up, but except from this farm, and it’s frickin amazing, I love the hops. And every year, I’m like, dammit, I should have got more hops. I’m gonna need more stuff. But to go back to your, your question about collaborations. You know, collaborations are always pretty fun, you know. And that’s one of the things like, I think Shawn from Birds Fly South told me like, we were talking about this, maybe two years ago, and we were talking about collabs, and it’s like, well, the reason you should do a collab is one, your friends, two, you’re learning something and exchanging knowledge, or three, you’re going into that market. There needs to be something behind it. And so that’s kind of how I look at it a little bit. And I’ve definitely done collabs sometimes where it’s just like, you know, I’m just a super fan of this person. And that’s the emphasis, and hopefully I can learn something. But as far as like the direction of clubs, it depends on like, space here, like we only have six fermenters, we have 120, barrel, and then five 10s. And we have matching Brite tanks. So, I think I mentioned expansion earlier. We’re talking about how to add more tanks to brew more. So, you know, and Khris mentioned this earlier, like lager resonancy, it’s, you know, such a long time. We step smash all of our lagers and do an acid rest. So like, just the brew day alone is long, and then they’ll sit in 50 degrees for you know, two and a half weeks, sometimes a little longer, and then we’ll move them over. Then you’ve got another, you know, four to eight weeks or whatever, depending upon style. So we don’t always offer those as collabs but you know, when this is special brew, we definitely want to push them towards that. But yeah, it’s gotten kind of—it gets boring when you’re like, ‘Oh, let’s just do a hazy IPA.’ It’s like, what is the fun of that? I mean, and sometimes the malt bills all look so similar, like, again, I think there’s plenty of space in brewing for those that keep going, but I love the fact that lager is clawing its way into the consumers forefront, you know, in their minds. Because I know that for brewers, like, for the last couple years everyone’s like, ‘Oh, they’re gonna make a comeback,’ you know, they’re gonna have their time and blah, blah, and all this. And I feel like that time, is definitely now. I just love that more and more drinkers are coming in asking for them and kind of expecting them. But yeah, so collaborations are awesome. They’re there a lot of fun.
John Holl 45:38
Khris, do you feel at the time is now?
Khristopher Johnson 45:40
I guess so. I don’t I don’t know about that. Um, I don’t know, man. Like, I think I’m just gonna keep brewing beers that excite me that that make me a better brewer that, you know, I can learn something from. And, to that end on collaborations, I typically agree. Any collab that we do, it’s because, you know, we either built a friendship somehow, you know, myself and the other brewer or brewery or, you know, maybe we knew each other before our breweries opened. Or we’re intrigued by what the other person’s doing inspired by something that they do, and we get in touch and start discussing that it, you know, organically you can kind of grow a relationship with someone, and then be able to brew beer with them. So, yeah, I’ve definitely been doing a lot of lager collaborations recently. But it’s not to say that’s the only thing we’re doing. We have a like a little bit more tank space than Todd does. We’re slightly bigger. We’re not big by any means, though. We have 20 fermenters, 17 of which are 30 barrel tanks, so double batches on our brew house. And then we have basically two stainless, 15 barrel fermenters, which are single batch tanks. And I do have like a 25 hectoliter fodder for sort of Saizon and then a bigger one for the mixed culture side over in Webb city. But the fifteens are basically we use those to do ultimately one off beers for the tasting room. I use those a lot for collaborations. And so and since we can brew, you know, we have enough cold liquor, which means cold water, basically. We have enough cold water to brew basically 45 barrels in a day. So I can’t really brew more than three batches in a day before I kind of I’m really struggling to have enough cold water because we are in Florida so our tap water is just hot coming out. So, for example, we brewed a collab recently with Evan from Green Cheek in Anaheim, in LA. So he came out and we brewed two batches. We’ve been doing that a lot recently, we’re like two beers with someone now not just one. It used to be just like one beer, but now we’ll do like 30 barrels of beer. We filled both of our 15 barrel fermenters, one of them was a triple IPA, because they do a ton of hazy triple IPAs and the other one was a double decocted Vienna lager. And, and the Vienna lager was a super traditional one. Like it’s not going to be amber, it’s literally 100% Vienna malt. We use Weyermann for virtually everything as well, like Todd does, and for the same kind of reasons to be honest with you, they’re such great malts and the quality is so good and yeah, we have a setting on our mill specifically for you know for Weyermann malt, as he was mentioning. the only other exception for some of the malts that we do bring in like all of our Czech beers or Czech-style beers, we actually sourced through Raven Malting some really under modified grain from, like Moravian malt, which is like where, like, that malt kind of really originated. So breweries like Budvar was a big brewery in Czech Republic, they get the exact same malt that we use now for our Czech style lager. So all of those come directly from the Czech Republic. Hops as well. We’re importing hops from Hallertau. we’re importing hops from the Czech Republic for those beers. So for example, I guess back to this one, it’s 100% Weyermann, Vienna malt, and we need to decoctions on it. So it’s two completely different ends of the spectrum. But two things that I think represent both breweries really well. And then our ability to share knowledge on two vastly different sort of polar sides, you know? So, he taught me a lot on how they do a lot of their triple IPAs because we didn’t really make triple IPAs. We’ve done one or two boards before in the past, but it’s just not something we do a lot of because frankly, it’s just not something I drink a lot of. But it’s also something that, you know, that I want to learn about. Because I constantly want to learn even if it’s something I don’t really drink a whole lot of, I want to learn how to do those things. So that’s an example. And then Odd Breed, one of my favorite breweries, actually here in the state of Florida. They’re down in Pompano Beach. Matt Manthe is the guy that runs that he specializes very strictly in mixed culture beers, he calls them wild ales. And so they’re very acidic. They all sit in puncheon barrels of that used have wine in them. He does barrel aging on almost everything. It’s very nuanced, very wine forward kind of characters in a lot of his beers. But I’ve known him before since before I’ve read open for years. He’s also one of the better lager brewers I’ve ever met. He actually trained in Germany. So he and I, when he came up to brew beer, we basically took like I said, that sort of pre-Prohibition Pilsner recipe, did a single decoction and then knocked that out into a fodder with our mixed culture, then it’s going to wine barrels and our cellar for several years. The second beer we brewed, we’re releasing today is like a traditional Munich Dunkel. So that beer is all imported malts from Weyermann. And we did two decoctions on that beer, and it sat in the fit one of those 15 barrel tanks the whole time. So we do a lot of that. Like another good example is like Bierstadt Lager House. We brewed two collabs with them, they’re out of Denver, they make exceptional beers. But they really only make, at least at their facility, they only make traditional lager. And they have decided to be a little bit more of interest in some of their collaborations. Our first collab, which we did like two years ago with them, we brewed here was a Weizenbach, so they don’t they don’t brew wheat beers, although it’s a traditional German style beer at Bierstadt. We talked about Weissbier for a long time. So they came out we did two decoctions on this traditional Weissbier. Todd mentioned an acid rest earlier, we do like the full for like acid rest all the way up through protein all the way up through beta. It’s very complicated sort of mash profile. That’s pretty traditional on that. And then I recently went out there and we brewed out return collab, finally, now that you know, we can travel a little bit now. And we brewed a smoked pale lager because I also drew a lot of smoke lagers here. I love smoke beers.
John Holl 51:56
Speaking my language.
Todd DiMatteo 51:57
Me too, yeah.
Khristopher Johnson 51:59
So we like we have on we had on tap yesterday, three smoked beers. And it’s awesome. Yeah, I love it. And it’s so it’s actually kind of funny. I was talking to our general manager yesterday because the Dunkel came out today. And we’re trying to find a place to put on. So we had to take a beer off to put this on. And we I was like, ‘Well, how many doctors do we have on at the moment?’ I think we had like four, maybe four dark beers, maybe five actually, at the time. And he was like, well, let’s take off. And he listed like our we have a smoked Dunkel that was on. And of course, he’s like, you know who’s gonna miss that? Is like what he said. And I was like, actually, what’s funny is we actually sell way more smoked beer than anyone has a right to be so selling. It’s actually surprising how much smoke we move. And I said to him, I was like, What about DTO, which is another beer. It’s an acronym for dark tannin oil. It’s actually an English-style mild ale, dark mild, which is also one of our favorites. We’re huge English fans, too, as far as beer, as Todd mentioned earlier, too.
John Holl 52:58
Alright guys, I get it. We’ll do an English mild style podcast, alright?
Khristopher Johnson 53:04
Well, we’re definitely in for that one. I think Todd’s gonna be into that too. I’m sure.
Todd DiMatteo 53:08
Yes, for sure.
Khristopher Johnson 53:09
So I was like, well, we can take detail off but obviously like, it’s like the shift we’re that we all drink. And of course, that’s what he said. He’s like, ‘Well, everyone drinks it.’ I was like, Well, everyone here drinks it but like, I bet if you ran the numbers our smoked beers destroy it. And it does. It’s like a two or two to one a three to one on like all of our smoke beers or English milds, which is crazy. But um, but yeah, we actually brew a lot of those. So anyway, we brewed a collab with Bierstadt. An opportunity for them to make a smoked lager, an opportunity for me to brew on their brewhouse that was built in 1932. And, you know, just learn from each other. That’s what’s really all about and kind of spend time with each other and learning from each other.
John Holl 53:49
As we start to wrap up your time, I’m curious as to where your curiosity is taking you these days lager-wise. If there are things that you’d like to do or recipes you’d like to make or even breweries that you’d like to work with. Where do you see your lager path as a brewer headed? Which direction?
Todd DiMatteo 54:11
Again, you know, I’m still pretty new in this to be honest with you, and we’re on our fourth year, not including my homebrew years. I’ve only been brewing for like six years, but I think Khris mentioned this earlier. Being a sponge. I am I feel like a baby and all I do I don’t read fiction anymore. All I read his books on brewing and, you know, I usually buy those like the book on Helles. I remember, we’ve been brewing an English mild and a bitter since we opened and I named them after like Ninja Turtles for a long time. And they were they were, you know, fine beers. But I told everybody, I was like before I brew these viewers again, I’m going to read more on those styles of beer. And so I did, but you know, and I changed the whole recipe. We brew English mild, we brew a new bitter, we brew a traditional barley wine and then we do English porter as well. We just did a bitter with Wooden Robot and De La Senne and it was just an ordinary bitter. And we do little light, dry hop. So I’m always like learning and trying—
John Holl 55:21
you guys are really trying to make this an English ale podcast!
Todd DiMatteo 55:23
No, no, sorry. No, no, it’s fine. We’ll just roll right into it. We’ll just stop recording and start recording again.
John Holl 55:29
That’s right. Yeah. Stay tuned on our next episode, which starts right now. Yeah.
Todd DiMatteo 55:35
No, I’m sorry. But you know, as far as you know, where the path is going? I don’t know. Just more and more traditional, like, literally the one thing I did not say, one last thing about English beer. It’s such a quick brew day compared to lager brew days. It’s crazy because there’s usually just a single infusion.
Khristopher Johnson 55:52
So what would you say your your setup was? You said you have three vessel, it’s a mash mixer, lauter and then a kettle?
Todd DiMatteo 55:59
Christopher Johnson 55:59
So you mash in your mash mixer and then you transfer to your lauter tun?
Todd DiMatteo 56:02
Christopher Johnson 56:03
So I guess you could do and your mash mixer has has heat source, right?
Todd DiMatteo 56:09
Yes, it does. Yeah.
Christopher Johnson 56:10
So you could do a single decoction. You know, like, if you mashed into your mixer, stepped to like, so you got to like alpha rest at like 158. You could transfer like 70, 75% over to the lauter, leave what’s behind and then boil that. And then add that afterwards. And then you can at least do a single.
Todd DiMatteo 56:29
Yeah, that’s a good point.
Christopher Johnson 56:30
You would have to go back, you know, like, you can’t do a double because you can’t like go forward and then go backwards. But you couldn’t do a single decoction with your setup, I think.
Todd DiMatteo 56:37
It’s worth trying.
Christopher Johnson 56:38
Yeah, I’ll come up. We’ll brew it.
John Holl 56:40
I was just to look on how far a distance it was between you two. And it sounds like there’s a collaboration in your future.
Christopher Johnson 56:51
This is how it happens with lager collabs, you know? John Holl, just bringing us all together.
John Holl 56:57
The last time I did this, I had Marcus from Weathered Souls and Ashley from Bierstadt on the show, because they were both are 40 Under 40 beer participants as part of the magazine last year, and they wound up doing a collaboration because they were on the show together. So yeah, I feel like I’m a matchmaker here, which is very nice. In this last minute or so that we have left, I’ll ask you each really quickly, to make the pitch to drinkers who haven’t had lagers in a while, or might only be familiar with those lagers that are, quote-unquote, everywhere? Why should people who haven’t experienced lagers in a while give them a chance again?
Todd DiMatteo 57:40
Again, I love that this is about lagers. But I would say, you know, drink whatever makes you happy. Whatever makes you go to your local brewery or brewpub and support them. I will say, don’t feel that lagers are so limited. You know, I think I did a lot of talking about pale lagers. But Chris mentioned lots of, you know, wheat lagers and dark lagers. There’s so much out there. And I think that the word lager sometimes puts people in this frame where it’s dad’s beer, that I snuck or uncle’s beer or whatever. And it was whatever. So take yourself out of that youthful stage that you were out when you first try a lager and re-experience it as an adult with, you know, your refined palate.
John Holl 58:25
Chris, what about you?
Christopher Johnson 58:27
Well, I think like everything else, and you know, obviously, the context here is lager. But I think like everything else, it’s we all very, it’s very easy for us to feel like we’ve had it, you know? I’ve had it, we’re good, like I’ve had it before. But I think that what I tried to do, what I tried to realize, as much as I know about beer, and as long as I’ve done it and you know, I teach at a university for it. And I’m pretty involved. And I know a lot about it. The more that I know, the more I realize how little I know. And that’s been, I think the thing that’s made me fall in love with beer the most is this notion that like I’m gonna wake up every day and never know everything about it. And I get to do that every day. I get to learn, I get to talk to people that have thought about it differently than I have. And I get to experience something that I never knew. And I think from the very beginning of this of this podcast, that’s kind of what Todd and I have been saying. It’s like, yeah, I’m constantly discovering. And my personal journey with lager has been just that it’s like, it’s an example of my these small little trips that I’ve taken as a brewer and in my career, where I’m learning something that I just never did before. I’m intrigued by that process. And the more that I learned about it, the more I realized there’s so much here and so my encouragement to anyone would be don’t think that you know everything about it. Don’t think that you’ve had it don’t think that you’ve already experienced it because there is I can guarantee you that you haven’t. If I haven’t, I know you haven’t, ultimately. and I’m not even close to having experienced, you know, everything that I want to just in the world of lager. And so, you know, I’d say that to everyone my encouragement is get excited. You know, like that’s how I approach it. I get extremely, extremely excited every time I see that someone has, you know, that style, a style of beer on tap that I can try. Whether it be a style that I’ve had, the way in which people brew them is vastly different. The process is different, the pours are different. And so there’s so many different ways to experience them. And there’s good and bad, there’s better or worse, but you definitely haven’t had all of them. So it’s just a great opportunity, I think, to just expand upon what you already know. And that’s why I say, you know, drink more lager.
Todd DiMatteo 1:00:48
I want a lager now, dude, I’m serious.
Christopher Johnson 1:00:50
I know I almost I almost got one when we started because I was like, I know how this ends.
John Holl 1:00:57
Well, we can we can stay on the Zoom afterwards and have a toast if you guys have the time. But otherwise Christopher Johnson, he’s the founding brewer and co-owner of Green Bench Brewing in Florida. And he is, I guess, 482 miles south from where Todd DiMatteo, he’s the owner and brewer at Good Word Brewing and Public House in Georgia, is located. Google tells me it’s just about a little over a seven hour drive between you two, so I’m looking forward to that collaboration. And thanks again to you both for sharing lager love and knowledge today. Appreciate it.
Todd DiMatteo 1:01:30
Thank you guys. Appreciate it.
Christopher Johnson 1:01:31
Yeah, thanks for having me.
Lauren Buzzeo 1:01:36
From familiar styles with New Age hops to collaborations that revive forgotten sub-styles, there sure is a lot of love for lagers these days. And I am happy to celebrate that by picking up an assortment of pours to enjoy all summer long. Be sure to check out our beer buying guide at winemag.com/ratings for dozens of recent ratings and reviews of lagers from near or far, and get ready to embrace the new wave of lager greatness. Subscribe to the Wine Enthusiast Podcast on iTunes, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, or wherever you find podcasts. If you like today’s episode, we’d love to read your review and hear what you think. And hey, why not tell your wine and beer-loving friends to check us out too. You can also drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org for more wine reviews, recipes, guides, deep dives, and stories. Visit Wine Enthusiast online at winemag.com and connect with us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter @WineEnthusiast. The Wine Enthusiast Podcast is produced by Lauren Buzzeo and Jenny Groza. Until next episode, cheers.
Last Updated: June 5, 2023