There is something so rewarding about making the stuff that you drink/eat. That tomato always tastes better when it comes from your very own garden. The same goes for beer. Well… not from your garden, but you know what I mean…
About a year ago, I met Jared Gill at the Steinbeck’s Home Brew Fest in Salinas, CA. About a month ago, Jared wrote to me on Instagram and asked if I could try some of his latest brews. Apparently I had been pretty harsh the first time around, and he wanted to show his progress. Let me tell you; he has made amazing progress! The brews he sent me in the mail recently were nothing short of exceptional! So much so that I wanted to give Jared a chance to tell his story on my website. Jared, you got the mic. Please tell us about The Mighty Bear Brewing Co.! (The kind words at the end is what makes the craft beer community so great. Thank you, Jared!)
What is Mighty Bear?
I’m a proud UC Berkeley grad so the name Mighty Bear comes from a combination of Cal’s mascot and a quote from Teddy Roosevelt that starts, “Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs.” It is just me doing the brewing and my wife tolerating my hobby! We have two small kids, so lately I’ve been brewing through the night after they’ve gone to bed. When the beer comes out right, the late nights are all worth it.
How did you get into home brewing?
I started brewing about ten years ago so the craft beer scene was really just starting to explode into what it is today and I found that my tastes didn’t really align with most of the beers I could buy out there. I saw IPA after IPA that all seemed the same with only the occasional gems that I couldn’t get enough of. A friend had introduced me to La Trappe’s Quadrupel and I was immediately blown away by it. After my first taste of that beer, I couldn’t find it anywhere near me. I decided I wanted to learn to make great beers that were unique or styles that I just couldn’t find on the shelves or on tap anywhere. It’s been a journey that started with a Mr Beer extract kit that eventually lead me to a three vessel all grain system today.
Any exciting plans for the future?
I just want to continue learning and making great beer. I love the process of beer making and learning the the science of the mash or how the flavors of different ingredients impact everything from flavor to head retention is fascinating and a lot of fun. And there’s so much for me still to learn. I think every homebrewer dreams of going pro at some point but with where I’m at in my life, having to depend on brewing full time to make a living doesn’t really appeal to me. I also have this irrational fear that my most popular beer would end up being something I hate to drink. With all that said, getting licensed as a nano brewery and just selling small quantities on my own terms might be kind of fun. We’ll see what the future brings!
Tell us more about your beer and brewing equipment
I learned early on that the right equipment can have a huge impact on the finished product, so every step of the way as I learned new things I looked at how I could improve the equipment as cost effectively as possible. A friend of mine is a stainless steel welder and helped me build my three station burner stand. We put it on casters so I can roll it in and out of position when I’m brewing to save space in the garage. All my pots are 20 gallons, with the boil kettle from Ss Brewtech, mash tun from BrewBuilt and a simple pot from Concord Kettles for the lauter tun. Last year I had the chance to pick up two half barrel conical fermenters from Ss Brewtech that have a glycol chiller attached for temperature control. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity and I call one Sucellus after a Celtic god of fermentation and the other Saint Arnold after the patron saint of brewers.
As far as my beers go, I tend to stay away from really hoppy styles. I love balance between hops and malt and my favorite styles to make (and drink) are Belgian abbey ales and German lagers. I enjoy experimenting with regional German styles that we don’t see too often in the US. Recently I made a zoiglbier that came out fantastic and I’ll be making a kellerbier soon that I’m really looking forward to. I’ve got a couple recipes that I make every year like my tequila tripel and the plum cream ale. My quadrupel recipe is still a work in progress and I’ll be taking another crack at it later this year. During the pre-covid days I always looked forward to brewing up something unique to serve at local homebrew festivals. Hopefully we can get back to those next year!
Anything else you’d like to add?
I appreciate you trying out my beer again! The honest feedback of my quadruple when we met last year stuck with me and motivated me even more to do the research and learn how to improve my Belgian styles. It’s always nice to get raw and honest feedback from somebody who really knows what they’re talking about. Cheers and I always enjoy following your beer journey!
More photos from The Mighty Bear Brewing Co.: