Re-posted from my blog: Malted Musings.
The other day Eli Cannon's Tap Room hosted Lagunitas Brewing Co, and I had the opportunity to try some of their beers and also have a chat with the rep on hand -Chris Marzi. Chris laid out the whole business plan of Lagunitas to me and piqued my curiosity about this brand that I have so far been somewhat unable to attach to.
Now Chis is the Nor'Easterly Atlantic Regional Vice Manager for Greater New England Quality Control Sampling and Supply-Vectored Beverage Implementation. Seriously, that's the title on his card. It's with this title that Lagunitas really begins to show its uniqueness and off-center sense of humor. This off-beat style is what Lagunitas specializes in, and it's what Chris further reinforced to me.
Lagunitas is known for its hoppy beer, in fact that's what the brand is essentially built on: their love of hops and their desire to brew way out-there styles to act as a vehicle to their obsession of tart bitters. They do brew other beer, as can be seen on a few of the varieties I tried at Eli's, but even Chris said that Lagunitas specializes in hops. One of the unique machines in the center of Lagunitas' bitter love is the "Hop Cannon." Employing a complex set of tubes, this device essentially lets Lagunitas brewmasters select which fermenting batch of beer gets a burst of hops. Literally -with a push of a button, hops shoot out through the tubes and hit whichever tank the brewmasters have selected. It's not hard to see that these guys really, really love their hops.
When asked what makes Lagunitas a special brand, Chris thought for a minutes, then fell back on one of Lagunitas' sayings, "it's good to have freinds." Further expanding on this, Chris told me that Lagunitas has always prided itself as a brewery that was open and helpful to it's customers, other breweries, and (maybe most importantly) the local farmers. Chris went on to say that Lagunitas tries to buy exclusively from local farmers, locking in the prices they'll pay for hops and malts in the beginning of the season. In this way whether the yield is good or bad, the farmers still get paid what's owed to them. Trying to reach out wherever they go, Lagunitas has just opened a new brewery in Chicago. This is a rough neighborhood, and Lagunitas has moved in hoping to affect change -bringing in new jobs and commerce to a place that's a bit short on opportunity.
In terms of newer styles, Lagunitas is currently putting out the Fusion series. These beers are a selection of one-off, small batch releases that are(further) outside tradition, and center on a different blend of ideas & styles that Lagunitas already has brewing up. By mixing styles, hop strains, and varying crazy ideas, the Fusion series allows Lagunitas to consistently brew something new and interesting.
I must say that the social connections that Lagunitas strives to make are admirable, and deserve to be copied by more breweries out there. It is refreshing to see a company that's a bunch of "good guys and gals" that actually succeeds: somewhat killing the idea that to get ahead in business you need to be nasty. I'm still warming up to their hoppy obsession, but Lagunitas has earned top marks in my book for being a right good lot! Be sure to follow me on on Blogger, Twitter, and Facebook for more beer chats and tidbits!