This is one in an occasional series of 7 Sips interviews, where we sit down for a pint and seven questions with someone active in the local craft beer community. Today we catch up with Bryan Utigard, who both brewed and worked in sales at Northern Lights and then No-Li before signing on as head brewer at Waddell’s Brewpub at Five Mile when it opened in December 2013.
Q: I see you have 14 of your own beers on tap. Is that pretty much the goal from now on?
A: Yeah, we’re trying to keep on 14 at all times. You can definitely say (assistant brewer) Adam (Wardle) and I have been very busy. We’re brewing two times a week minimum, and four times a week sometimes. … We’re going to be selling the seven-barrel fermenters and getting three more 15s – we want to sell two of them, and keep one little guy. We’ve got three sevens and three 15s now, and eight brite tanks. That allows you to experiment and blend things, with barrel-aging and stuff, and do lagers. We’re so happy to be able to experiment, we just don’t have to put it all in the brite tank and keg it up right away.
Q: Three of the regular beers are German styles (Barkeep Bavarian Wheat, Punxsutawney Pilsner and Vienna Lager), and you have a kolsch coming for summer. What is it about those that you tend to like?
A: Adam and I really love German beers. Nobody in Spokane really does a German pilsner, or a German lager, or a Bavarian wheat beer, for that matter. It’s a genre of beer a lot of people just don’t really focus on, and I think more people should. They’ve been around for so long, and they’re not really in the mainstream like they used to be, IPAs are in the forefront right now. When people think of a pilsner, or a lager, they think of an American (domestic) style – I’ve turned so many people’s heads, they’re like, what, this is a pilsner? Yeah, it’s a German pilsner. … I have some German heritage, and I’ve just been enjoying a lot of German beers for so long that when I got the chance, there was no way I wasn’t going to brew some German beers.
Q: The collaboration beer you’re doing with Wallace Brewing for Spokane Craft Beer Week is a SMaSH (single malt and single hop) bock, which is kind of an unusual style – how did that come about?
A: (Wallace brewmaster) Jack Johnson came down here and met with Adam and I and we were just B.S.-ing over all these different styles and what we could do. We wanted to do something hoppy, but everybody brews a lot of hoppy stuff, so we thought, what about a German style. Jack said, what about a SMaSH beer, and we said, what about Munich malt, and he suggested Bonlander, it’s a richer Munich. And we were looking at yeast strains none of us had used, what about this German bock lager yeast? So we put enough (malt) in there to get a 6.7 or maybe 7 percent lager, with just Czech Saaz – a lot of Czech Saaz, actually. We were trying to get to 35 or 37 IBUs, and Czech Saaz is usually 3.5 to 5 percent alpha acids, so you have to use quite a bit to get it to that level. There was 12 pounds of Czech Saaz, or something like that. It was really fun, those guys are awesome. We brewed it up there because they have a 20-barrel system.
Local journalism is essential.
The journalists of The Spokesman-Review are a part of the community. They live here. They work here. They care. You can help keep local journalism strong right now with your contribution. Thank you.
Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter
Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.