A new feature here on Fuggled for the coming Fridays is a questionnaire for brewers around the world, first up is Jeff from Lovibonds.
Name: Jeff Rosenmeier, Founder / Head Brewer
Brewery: Lovibonds Brewery, Henley-on-Thames, England
How did you get into brewing as a career?
I started home brewing about 15 years ago after a friend of mine showed me that you could brew really excellent beer at home. I got pretty burned out from an IT career and decided to try a second career in brewing by starting Lovibonds Brewery in 2005.
What is the most important characteristic of a brewer?
I think if a brewer wants to make clean and consistent beer, he needs to be a clean freak. One of my heroes is Charlie Papazian, as he taught me to brew through his writing and I think his Relax, Don’t Worry attitude is also a key characteristic. I find that if I am the clean freak, it helps me relax!
Before being a professional brewer, did you homebrew? If so, how many of your homebrew recipes have you converted to full scale production?
I’d say all my commercial recipes started as home brew recipes. We still test all new beers on a pilot level (100l) and probably always will.
If you did homebrew, do you still?
I don’t homebrew per say anymore. I still play on the pilot kit and a majority of production happens on a 700l plant, which to me still feels like homebrew.
What is your favourite beer that you brew?
I really love to brew our Henley Dark, which is a Smoked Porter. I traveled to Alaska about 10 years ago and was really inspired by the things that Alaskan Brewing Co. were doing in Juneau, including their famous Smoked Porter. I still hand smoke about 5% of the grist for this beer with lovely smelling beech wood on my Weber BBQ. When you combine that with the other malts in the mash tun on a cold winter morning, it’s pretty easy to understand why brewers do what they do.
If you have worked in other breweries, which other beer did you enjoy brewing, and why?
Of the beers you brew, which is your favourite to drink?
This changes all the time depending on my mood really. I’m currently working on a keg of Henley Amber (Pale Ale) in the kegerator and it is tasting pretty good. I like the fact that this beer is only 3.4% abv, yet the flavours haven’t been watered down. Drinkability is the key to me for every beer we brew. If you don’t want to have that 3rd pint, then I haven’t done my job properly. I find this beer very drinkable at the moment.
How important is authenticity when making a new beer, in terms of flavour, ingredients and method?
To me it is very important that each of our beers has a story, to me that is authenticity. I’m maybe not the most creative person in the world, so most of my beers are inspired by something else that I have experienced, but with my own little spin on it.
If you were to do a collaborative beer, which brewery would you most like to work with and why?
Tough one really…there are some great breweries here in the UK and I’ve made a lot of friends and hope to be doing some collaborations with them in the near future. A bit further a field, I would love to do something with Lagunitas. I love their attitude and love all of the beers that I’ve had the pleasure of tasting thus far.
Which beer, other than your own, do you wish you had invented?
Brew Dog’s Punk IPA . Punk IPA, because I think it gives the big finger (or fingers) to the establishment that has made IPA in the UK into an insipid drink without any hops or alcohol. Brew Dog have their naysayers, but I cannot say enough about how I admire what those guys are doing for the UK craft brewing movement. Obviously, their beers rock as well.