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Pennsylvania

  • Interview with a Head Brewer - Motoring Along

    From the birthplace of the ubiquitus 'Jeep' we have our latest interviewee. Taking time from his continued climb up the brewing ladder to answer these hard hitting interview questions (ha). Like many we profile here, this individual has made his way from homebrewer to pro. As you'll see though, this didn't happen overnight. The next Head Brewer to sit in the Comfy Computer Chair of Fame, let's welcome Nate Bacher. 

    Bacher 3 CopyName(s): Nate Bacher

    Brewery Name: Recon Brewing (Have a look at the brewery notes for the explanation of the 'Jeep' reference)

    How long have you beer head brewer/brewmaster there? 3 years

    Any type of formal training in brewing science or art? If not, how did you learn the craft?
    No formal training, I was a home brewer for 9 years prior to starting the brewery. I spent a lot of time reading books, researching techniques, attending informal trainings, and honing recipes.

    If you will, a brief history of your brewing experience (where have you brewed)?
    Prior to starting Recon and brewing commercially, I only brewed at my house. Started with a Mr Beer kit and slowly worked my way up to a 25 gallon all grain system then jumped to our 7 bbl system.

    How large is the brewery (# of barrels annually)?
    We are a 7 bbl brewhouse. Last year we produced 254 barrels of beer.

    Is it automated or is there a lot of exercise involved in your brewery's operation?
    There is quite a bit of exercise during a brewday….my excuse for never going to the gym. We do have an integrated manifold between the mash tun and boil kettle with mounted pumps all pre-piped and controlled from the main panel. It’s about as automated as I would like it to be.

    Have you ever had a bad batch? If so, how long did it take you to figure out what caused it?
    I had a bunch of not so great batches in my homebrew days, usually due to yeast or temperature issues. Knock on wood, since opening our doors we have not had a bad batch to date. I have become very particular about fermentation temps and yeast health.

    Is there more pressure put upon you as head brewer in a smallish brewery to try and match other small breweries in offerings?
    Absolutely, I try to ignore the urge to put up multiple taps of hazy IPAs and sours even though those sell the best. We decided early on that we would always have a wide selection of styles on tap at any given time. Our offerings usually consist of: stout or porter, west coast, hazy, fruited sour, wheat (hefe or wit), scotch ale, seasonal, lager, and our rotating “Karma Tap” (15% of the sales from our Karma Tap goes to a local charity each quarter).

    With all the breweries around you have to offer the popular styles but, in my opinion, you can’t forget the traditional brews too. Traditional, adjunct-free, styles give you a chance to show your brewing capability and win the hearts of transitioning craft beer drinkers. We started out of gate making some great lagers and people have come to know us for them.

    Can you give a hint if anything might be coming from your brewery (new brew, special brew, etc.)?
    We have our hazelnut white stout “Alabastard” coming out again soon. It has a local cult following and doesn’t last long in the taproom. Also we are going to be doing a large canning run this month and will be distributing cans of “Hit the East Side” a soft juice bomb hazy IPA; “Trail Rated Sour Series – Raspberry” a heavily fruited sour; and a new brew “Meeder Irish Red” in support of our upcoming second location in Cranberry Twp at the Meeder Crossroads.

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