Dan Jansen has been professionally brewing beer for more than a decade now.
He just recently joined Blue Point Brewing Company after spending most of those years learning the ropes with Anheuser-Busch, going from intern to assistant brewmaster in the nine years he was there. But the greatest lessons he’s learned came from trial and error during his home brewing hobby (or obsession as he likes to recall it) in his garage back in Missouri!!
Chilled got to chat with Dan about his roots, what he does with total creative freedom and his absolute love of brewing.
Tell us a bit about your background as a brewer.
My first job in the industry was a co-op for Anheuser-Busch at the research pilot facility. It was hands on, small batch, innovative brewing. What better introduction could a 2- year old college kid ask for to the industry? I fell in love with brewing. Somewhere along the way I couldn’t get enough of brewing at work so I started brewing at home as well. My home brewing gradually increased from a “one brew a month hobby” to a sometimes “three brews a day” obsession. I often tell people I learned about half of what I know about brewing from some really great mentors and training at Anheuser-Busch and the other half by trial and error making home brew in my garage. Last summer I was offered the opportunity to be the Brewmaster and Director of Operations here at Blue Point. It was a once in a lifetime chance that I couldn’t pass up.
Tell us about your position as Brewmaster for Blue Point Brewery.
We all wear a lot of hats here at Blue Point. As Brewmaster, first and foremost, I’m responsible for the quality of all the beers we make. I make sure I’m proud of each and every beer that has the Blue Point name on it. I also get a lot of freedom to create new recipes and experiment with different ingredients and methods to develop new beers for our line-up. That’s the best part of the job. It’s awesome to be able to scratch some ideas down on paper and three weeks later be enjoying a pint of that beer in our tasting room and asking some of our loyal patrons what they think of it.
Give us your take on the intense craft beer boom happening these past few years. Are you surprised about how microbrew and home brewing has taken off?
Yes, the brewing scene is definitely booming. I’m not surprised by the movement but the growth statistics are awesome, and I hope the industry can sustain them. People are more and more interested in how and where their food and beer are made. They love the local appeal and being part of the experience. And our job as craft brewers is to make sure we foster that by inviting people into our breweries and by continuing to make interesting beers with local appeal.
Tell us about Blue Point being bought out by Anheuser-Busch – How has the brew changed in any way?
It’s been working out great for Blue Point. We have access to a great distribution system that helps us get our beer into the hands of a lot more beer fans. Our beers haven’t changed and I take a lot of pride in that part of my job. I have to ensure that the recipes handed down to me by the founders are followed and respected. If anything, being part of the AB system has given us access to new tools and technology that help us make the quality and consistency of our beers even better.
Where do you get your inspiration for the brews you create?
Wow, lots of places. I pull from classic styles that I enjoy drinking; other beers that I have tried that I think are really on the cutting edge; and food flavor combinations that I enjoy and think would translate well to beer. I’m also inspired by the season and my surroundings. I tend to work on heavier beer recipes in colder months and lighter beer in the warmer months. Lately, I have been working a lot with local ingredients like North Atlantic seaweed, sea salt harvested from the Great South Bay, local fruits, and local honey.
Do you have a favorite Blue Point Beer for the summer/fall?
For the summer I like Mosaic, our session IPA. It’s dry, crisp, and refreshing, but it has a ton of funky citrus hop character to keep it interesting. For the fall, I prefer our Oatmeal Stout. It’s robust, sweet, and silky. It pairs well with hearty fall dishes as well as chocolaty desserts.
If you like beer cocktails, which is your favorite?
Do whiskey barrel aged beers count as a cocktail?! How about a shot of bourbon next to my beer? Okay then, I guess I would say I’m not the biggest beer cocktail fan but I’ve been known to mix a little orange juice with a dry, citrusy IPA in the morning. Our White IPA works great for that.
What kind of advice can you share with the novice brewers out there, coming up with great tasting beers in their garage?
Do your research. Try a lot of different recipes. Learn something new every time you brew. Clean meticulously. Get an aeration stone, pump, and filter. Enjoy brewing, or else it isn’t worth doing.