A couple of weeks ago, Charlottesville newest brewery opened. Last Friday I finally got round to the tasting room to try their first slew of offerings, and very impressed I was as well - to give you an idea of how much I enjoyed the beers, I had 4 pints of their IPA - yes you read that correctly, this distinctly unfussed about IPA beer drinker enjoyed 4 pints of IPA. This Friday, sees a return of the Fuggled Brewer of the Week series, and may I introduce Dave, the man behind the beers I enjoyed so much last week.
Name: Dave Warwick
Brewery: Three Notch’d Brewing Co.
How did you get into brewing as a career?
I’ve always been attracted to beer and the beer industry. It witnesses friendship, community, and many celebrations. During some of the greatest times of our lives, beer was right beside us. Oh yeah, and it tastes GREAT and every style tells a story. After two years of a cut-throat sales rep position with Coors in Western Pennsylvania, I disregarded my degree in marketing and gave up the aggressive, high stress job to be a part-time assistant brewer making $8/hour shoveling grain and shining tanks at the Rock Bottom Brewery in Pittsburgh, PA. I met a lot of nice bill collectors that year, but I loved being a part of something special and I was happy.
What is the most important characteristic of a brewer?
Having an open mind. The craft beer scene is ever changing in the US these days. It’s important to be in touch with the beer drinking community, acknowledge what they want and adjust your recipes accordingly. Brew what the people want, not what you want. I need to keep telling myself this. I am not a fan of Black IPA’s at all, but I can’t deny the current popularity of it. I plan on breaking down and brewing one this winter.
Before being a professional brewer, did you homebrew? If so, how many of your homebrew recipes have you converted to full scale production?
Unfortunately, I have never homebrewed. I jumped right into the pro sector. I always wanted to, but after brewing all week and getting the weekend off, I just couldn’t get the motivation to brew more at home. I’m very fortunate to have the opportunity to homebrew at work, on a large scale, for a living.
What is your favourite beer to brew?
I’d have to say my favorite beer to brew is my pumpkin ale. I love the fall, and over the years, brewing a pumpkin ale has represented the festive beginnings of my favorite season. In years past, I always enjoyed chopping and baking the pumpkins at home the night before the brew with my fiancée, Michelle. There’s extra work to do the next day with the pumpkins in the mash and the puree and spices in the boil so it breaks up the daily routine of the other brews. This year, though, I felt the market’s pressure to brew a pumpkin ale before pumpkins were even harvested. The pumpkin puree/pumpkin pie filling is what you really taste in the final product anyway, it’s just more fun with the fresh pumpkins in the mash.
If you have worked in other breweries, which other beer did you enjoy brewing, and why?
In 2009, I was in an apprenticeship program at Rock Bottom in Westminster, CO under Brewmaster Scott O’Hearn. I was given the opportunity to brew my very first recipe, “Tiny’s” Smoked Porter. (Tiny was my nickname.) THAT was my very favorite brewday. I was so excited, I couldn’t sleep the night before.
Of the beers you brew, which is your favourite to drink?
Such a hard question to answer…My pilsner, my Kolsch? I can’t decide, I’ll come back to it after answering the other questions. Okay, I’m back. Maybe my Kolsch, or no, my Double IPA, English brown, depending on the season and other things. Belgian Tripel? Hmm, still not sure. I’m going to sleep on it. Good night. Good morning, yeah, still have no idea. I like so many of them and they all are special to me.
How important is authenticity when making a new beer, in terms of flavour, ingredients and method?
It depends on the style and how open it is to interpretation. For a lot of beers I like to stay within the confines of the style guidelines and keep it simple, pure and delicious. A Kolsch, for example, has no room for authenticity. It has specific flavors and other qualities that must be met out of respect to the history of the style. Then there are beers that lengthen my leash and let me be more creative. I’ve had some fun trying to make our “40 Mile” IPA as authentic as I can. It’s light, crisp and bright with mild bitterness, (a humble 50IBU’s) and highlights a peachy, tropical hop complexity from El Dorados, but finishes with an array of staple West Coast citrus “C’s”.
If you were to do a collaborative beer, which brewery would you most like to work with and why?
So many great brewers and breweries out there, all that I would love to brew with, especially right here in the Charlottesville area. Champion, Blue Mountain, Devils Backbone, James River all come to mind. In a perfect world, I would brew on every system with every Brewmaster. To pick on, though, I do plan on reaching out soon to Evolution Brewing Co. in Salisbury, MD. I grew up in the Salisbury area, during a time when there was no craft beer scene and Natural Light reigned king. Evolution is the pioneer of the craft beer movement going on today in Salisbury. It would be special to brew with Geoff DeBisschop as that would be a sort of homecoming for me.
Which beer, other than your own, do you wish you had invented?
This is an easy one. Rye Barchetta, brewed by Champion and Blue Mountain. Not only is it an amazing beer that I wish I would’ve come up with, but I’m a huuuuge fan of the band Rush that this beer is a nod to. I would’ve loved to be a part of that collaboration. Maybe next year for an anniversary, (hint, hint). I might’ve just answered the previous question with a different answer.