Friday, January 14, 2011

Nano Spotlight: EPIC ALES - Seattle, WA

I had the good fortune of visiting Cody Morris's Epic Ales while on a trip to Seattle last month. Cody brews one barrel batches of beers using extremely interesting gastronomically inspired ingredients. My personal favorite (though they were all quite enjoyable) of the four beers he had on tap was his Terra-Saurus, a Shitake Mushroom brewed beer, that is wonderfully complex, perplexing and highly satisfying. If you find yourself in Seattle on a Friday between the hours of 3:30 and 8:00 PM do yourself a favor, stop in to say "hello" and have a drink.

This is the first in my hopefully many Nano Spotlights. Never mind the bullocks, here is the interview:

Cody Morris, EPIC Ales
What made you decide to take the leap into opening your own brewery?
I fell in love with brewing my last year of college, I finished with a BA in philosophy and history. That gave me a lot of room career-wise. I noticed that few people in the brewing industry had degrees in brewing, so I figured I could learn on the spot via a job. I ended up at a homebrew shop for a few years, which was great. From there I worked with wine, specifically pairing food with it. I decided I wanted to make food friendly brews to help compliment the growing food consciousness that is happening across the US. The recession was very real and very scary and my idea was pretty left field so I decided to start small.
Epic Bottling Line
What was the most difficult aspect of opening Epic Ales?Paperwork. I'm what a lot of people call a right-brained personality. I can focus on cleaning a tank perfectly but I hate paperwork. Luckily this year I have a book-keeper. I think as a business grows, the most difficult part will be delegating tasks to other people. At this point in time I need to remind myself that with trust in others I can have a day off.

31 Gallon Ferminators

You ferment beers using a very interesting yeast, could you go into detail on how you got started using it and why?
I use a sake yeast. It's called #9 or the Fuji strain. I began using it in my super experimental homebrewing phase. I fell in love with it. It's very dry, Simply Summer finishes at 1.002. Depending on the temperature you get totally different flavor profiles. This is true of all yeast. However, few taste good when fermented up to 115 degrees. I love how Belgian brewers use their yeast as a medium for distinguishing themselves from the neighbors. I never want to copy the great beers of Belgium but I'm certainly influenced by their embrace of the unique. I always tell people my beers are Belgian inspired, not Belgian.

Future plans for Epic Ales?
Growth! I love being a nanobrewery, and I would never change how I started Epic Ales. When I first opened I talked to Matt at Schooner Exact who started on a 1/2 barrel system, he flatly told me I'd want a bigger system in less than a year. He couldn't be more right. It's not that I want to be the next Deschutes or Stone. But I'd love to have a 4-10 bbl system with a cafe. It'd be great to cellar something, I'd love to get a bunch of barrels and play with sours. I hope to in the next year have a location where you can get a pint and some amazing grub that pairs with it. Beer Tapas.

Brothers in Tiny Arms.
What has been your favorite part about opening up Epic Ales?
The amount of support has been breath-taking. Not just from other brewers, but from the beer drinkers of the sound. When you make beers as kooky as mine, you'd think people would have to dare each other to try it. Folks are really into exploring what beer can do and with the home brew culture being so strong I get bottles from local homebrewers all the time. It's really cool. The retailers have been amazing as well. I just brewed Full Throttle Bottles 3rd anniversary beer. It's a beautiful rich sweet stout. The level of excitement on such projects is wonderful to be part of. Also naming a beer after my dog was pretty cool.

#End Transmission