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.
While the beer from Founders Brewing Company certainly needs no introduction, we found it strange that we haven't heard much about the folks behind the actual brewing of the beer. With that in mind, we got in contact with the folks up at the Grand Rapids, MI brewery to get a better grip on what they're all about.
1) Who are you and where do you work?
My name is Jeremy Kosmicki and I’m the Head Brewer at Founders Brewing Company.
2) What inspired you to start brewing beer? How did you get your start?
It was 1994 and I was 19 years old when I bought a homebrew kit. My cousin was attending Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, so Bell’s beer was a big inspiration. I helped another friend get started homebrewing, his name is Nate Walser. Nate went on to be the assistant brewer at New Holland, and then in 2001 he became the head brewer at Founders. I had been working on the bottling line there for a little while, then when Nate started I became his assistant. We were given permission to change the recipes and things really took off from there.
3) What's your brewing mission? What are you trying to accomplish with your beer?
My mission is to brew beers that I like to drink. I enjoy big flavorful ales and that’s what I brew best. I like my beers to be bold and assertive, yet still fun and easy to drink. I don’t want to be extreme just for the sake of being extreme – a lot of beers are interesting but not really palatable. I rarely attempt Belgian, German or English style beers. Those beers have been brewed for centuries now and there are plenty of brewers who have mastered them. I prefer American hops and American yeast, so if there is such a thing as “American-style” craft beer, that’s how I’d like Founders to be thought of.
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?
As a homebrewer I was impressed by all the flavor and body that Bell’s beers had, so I suppose I wanted to brew beers like that. All of our friends enjoyed our big strong homebrewed beers, so I thought that if I ever made it to commercial brewing, then that would be the type of beer I’d want to make.
5) What beer are you proudest of? Which of your beers is your personal favorite? Why?
I’m proud of all our beers, and for different reasons. I’m proud of the national hype that beers like Breakfast Stout and KBS get. I’m proud of the huge amount of IPA that gets served in our taproom. And I’m proud of the balance and drinkability of our pale ale. My personal favorite is our Harvest Ale. I love that hop flavor and aroma that can only be found in wet hopped beers.
6) Which beers outside of your own do you enjoy? What beer do you wish you came up with? Why?
I love hoppy beers. Bell’s Two Hearted has long been a favorite of mine. I like North Coast, Lagunitas, Three Floyds, etc. I’ve been impressed with places like Firestone Walker, Russian River, and Surly, but they don’t distribute here so it’s rare that I get to enjoy them. I went to Belgium a few years back and fell in love with sour beers also.
7) There currently seems to be a little bit of the "Brewer as Celebrity" sort of thing going now (think Sam Calagione (22,000 google entries), Garrett Oliver (28,600 google entries), Jim Koch (48,600 google entries), and even on a smaller scale, maybe even Nick Floyd (5,150 google entries)) - considering that you're brewer beer as good as or in many cases better than theirs, why the lack of hype? I mean, 112 google hits for Jeremy Kosmicki?
112 google hits? That seems like a lot to me. I suppose my bosses like to hoard all the glory for themselves. I’ve actually already achieved fame with my rock and roll band, Oracle. We’re like huge in Grand Rapids and eastern Scandinavia. I’m a bit shocked you haven’t heard of us.
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All of us at Hoosier Beer Geek wish to thank Jeremy and the folks at Founders for taking the time to answer our questions, and for their dedication to good beer.
More on Founders from HBG:
KOTBR #22 - Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout
KOTBR #38 - Founders Dirty Bastard Scotch Ale