The Hoosier Beer Geek 6 Pack is a feature where we run six questions by the folks behind the scenes at breweries to get a little more insight into what they do and like and how they got their start. The Knights of the Beer Roundtable would like to thank our fourth guest, Ted Miller from Brugge Beer.
1) Who are you and where do you work?
Ted Miller - Brugge
2) What inspired you to start brewing beer? How did you get your start?
My grandfather was a man who loved food and drink. On Saturdays as a child we would walk from his place at Riley Towers in downtown Indy to the city market. He would expose my brothers and I to different varieties of olives, peppers, etc. I think it was his love of food that eventually turned me into the outrageous snob I am today. All kidding aside, his appreciation for quality and pushing us to be adventurous and his propensity to have fun probably had much to do with my eventual career as that philosophy parallels my beer philosophy.
I got my start by pestering the living bejeezers out of the great folks over at the Broad Ripple Brewpub for about 4 weeks straight in September of '90 until they finally made a deal. The GM said, "Don't come back until the end of October and you can have a job. Just please, please go away." It's all history from there. Thanks, John.
3) What's your brewing mission? What are you trying to accomplish with your beer?
It's all about being Knighted. After I saw this (First American brewer knighted by the Knighthood of Brewers' Mashstaff in Belgium - Realbeer.com article) I had to change my long term goals. Previously, my goals had been of the rather ho-hum sort. Brew beer that excites people, strive to innovate, take risks, that kind of stuff.
4) Was there a beer that you benchmarked your own against? How did you know your beer was good enough to take to the general public?
Not really. Well, not a particular beer that is. My aim is to brew beers as worldclass as the hundreds of worldclass beers I respect and enjoy. I suppose all of them looked at from that perspective are a benchmark.
This Brugge thing is the first project that I actually own. So all of those other suckers I worked for the past 16 years had to deal with my complete lack of talent. Luckily, like a monkey, I can learn after a couple thousand brews.
5) What beer are you proudest of? Which of your beers is your personal favorite? Why?
That's a tough one. Here at Brugge, I'd say the Diamond Kings is probably our defining achievement. Those wild beers can go afoul quick. We've been pretty fortunate that both releases have been right about where we intended them to be.
We haven't been brewing our Pilsner recently for some small brewery reasons, but I think that was probably my go to beer. The reason is quite simple really. I like beer. A lot. Because of that, I tend to drink a few at a time. I can drink a few pilsners and still be a reasonably responsible adult.
6) Which beers outside of your own do you enjoy? What beer do you wish you came up with? Why?
I adore Gueuze in all of its funky forms. Kevin Matalucci from the Broad Ripple Brewpub and I often pack our families into the cars and head up to Symphony on the Prairie and drink gueuze paired with stinky cheeses. He's pretty much a snob too. I think Three Floyds brew some of the best beer in the country and the gang from up there are a hoot! The craft beer market is a little behind in Indiana when compared to other states, but I've got to say we are pretty lucky because we've got some spectacular beers being made here. Just not enough of it......yet. Keep posted to www.Brugge-Beer.com for details.
I wish I came up with the beer credited to Ninkasi, I guess. "On feast days, the populace would convene at the temples of Ninkasi to join in eating bread and drinking beer. They knew that the gods would be convened above do the same in their realm. Such communal carousing often culminated in ecstasy, when all inhibitions faded and the revelers reached a state of being that was held to be beneficial for both spiritual well being of both the immortal gods and their mortal followers. The faithful would throw themselves with abandon into their intoxicated joy, while the gods would lose their fear and thus fight ever more courageously against all the adversities that might afflict their people below. As the alcohol spread its glow among the worshippers, the priestesses would carry forth with erotic songs and dances designed to arouse themselves, the great mother goddess Ninkasi, and the gathered crowd before them. The priestesses would then turn into maidens of easy virtue, and a Sumerian chap could consider himself lucky, if he was chosen at such an occasion to consummate with one of them the ultimate act of fertility." Pretty easy one, heh?
Anything you'd like to add?
Brugge is going to be brewing very soon in Terre Haute. Look for draft products to roll out first. Bottles to follow in 750mls. We're really quite excited about this new project.
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Although Ted is excited about Brugge Beer in bottles, I think the Hoosier Beer Geeks are even more so. We wish to thank Ted for taking the time to answer our questions, and for his dedication to good beer.