| Friday, September 12, 2014
By Jennifer Posh
Content & Copywriting Specialist
Have you spent your weekend mornings in pain thanks to the deceptive strength of O-Gii, the beer-tea combination from Milwaukee Brewing Co? If so, you have lead brewer Kurt Mayes to thank. “I feel like I should start a Facebook page for all the people who tell me that I ruined their life,” Kurt told us.
Kurt didn’t plan to become a brewer. He was a chef for 15 years, but after starting work in a brewpub, he made a career shift and never looked back. His culinary background, he told us, inspires him to add unexpected flavors to beer and look for a flavor-driven balance in the beer he brews. As lead brewer, he works under the brewmaster as the top guy out on the floor.
What makes a good beer? “Flavor. A beer should have flavor, and not taste like water.” Kurt doesn’t have a single favorite brew, but he’s currently enjoying sour beers, which gets their distinctive flavor from bacteria. Although this style of beer has been around for a long time, it’s enjoying a renaissance and gaining popularity among adventurous beer drinkers.
Where’s your favorite spot in Milwaukee to drink? “Here?” Due to his unpredictable schedule (he usually works from 6 a.m. to 4 or 5 p.m., but on the day we met with him, he was coming in at 3 p.m. and thought he might be there until 1 a.m.), Kurt told us he “just works and sleeps” and doesn’t go out much, but he does enjoy trying out beers with his fellow brewers or at family events.
What’s your favorite fall beer? Kurt created the recipe for “Sasquatch,” Milwaukee Brewing Co’s popular pumpkin beer out of a desire to create a pumpkin beer that he would like, combining pumpkin and sweet potato with malts and just a little of the famous pumpkin spice flavors to keep it from becoming a “spicebomb.” He prefers drinking Sasquatch with food – for sipping on its own, he’s a fan of Hoptoberfest, a take on the classic German-style lager that’s perfect for fall.
What’s your advice for novice beer drinkers? “Try things – don’t be afraid to taste stuff. Take a brewery tour.” People often have preconceived notions about what kind of beer they like, but you never know until you try. Brewery tours, Kurt points out, are a great way to get a look at what makes each beer what it is, in addition to having the opportunity to sample several different kinds.
What’s your favorite part of your job? “I get to make beer. I get to do what I love to do. If you find a job you love, it doesn’t feel like work. I still enjoy coming in every day, even when I know I might be coming in to a headache.”