Sunday, May 20, 2012
The Brewery Project: AleSmith
I have been a fan of AleSmith Brewing Co. since attending this tasting event, hosted by owner Peter Zien, back in 2010. I already liked the beer, but the passion that Peter showed for his craft completed the package for me. This isn't a "business" or "work" to him, it is his art. Liquid art. In fact, the brewery itself could be called a "Liquid Art Museum". Hmmm... I may be on to something there. I should coin that phrase! But, I digress. The recently renovated tasting room looks very clean and polished. Large brewery prints adorn one wall, while beer-filled barrels line an adjacent one, creating an artistic beer-drinking backdrop and conversation piece. Used barrels sprinkled throughout the space serve as tables, and a large L-shaped bar provides plenty of spots to enjoy current offerings. The bartenders were friendly, if not a little cold, lacking the warmth and enthusiasm of smaller, newer breweries in the area. I hope that growth and prestige don't lead to a path where the beer becomes more important than the people who drink it. I think that is the turning point that changes the product from a "craft" to a "commodity". The danger is present whenever a brewery grows in size and popularity, but the choice to stay true to the craft always lies with the brewery itself. With Peter in charge, I don't believe that will be a problem. The beer, as always, was spectacular. The highlight of this visit was a private tour of the brewery. Ryan, an assistant brewer, showed off the brewery as if it were his newborn son. He has only been there since September, but I was in awe of his knowledge of the brewing process and the equipment itself. The small space is so tightly packed with brewing equipment, I wonder how long it will be until a larger space is required. A huge thanks to Ryan for taking the time to share his passion. With people like Ryan on board I have no worries about the future of this growing company, know that the craft of beer will always remain the top priority, and look forward to the exciting road ahead.