By Andrew Burns, Head Brewer
It might seem obvious, but each tank in a brewery needs to be labeled. First, there's the practical reason: a brewer needs to be able to know which beer is fermenting where. There's also the legal reason: the federal government requires each tank to be "uniquely identified." Some brewers uses names like "Fermenter 1," or "Fermentation Vessel #2," or even "FV-3."
I'm not one of those brewers. I'm the kind that thinks fermenters should have some ... personality.
In my last career, I toured the world playing bass. In fact, I still play music all the time, but I've made beer my career. What better way to tie that past into my future than to name the fermenters after some influential bassists? The government says we need to identify our tanks, so why not have some fun with it?
Without further ado, meet the tanks:
The first of the two larger fermenters is named after one of the most innovative and influential bassists ever — Victor Wooten. It seems fitting to me that one of our larger tanks is named after a bass Giant. Maybe you haven't heard of Victor Wooten, so just in case, here's his signature piece:
Imagine fledgling bassist Andrew hearing that in High School. It's a little bit like the first time I tasted a beer with hops in it. It changed everything.
If there's anyone that can challenge Victor to the title of "Greatest Bassist Ever," it's Jaco Pastorious. Certainly the most influential bassist ever, Jaco redifined what a bass could do. Victor couldn't have done what he did if Jaco hadn't done this first:
Jaco wasn't just a stunning soloist, but played the backing role with such skill that he pushed everyone he played with to be better. Jaco and Victor are two pillars in the electric bass world, and their names are on the two larger fermenting vessels. But what of the two smaller fermenters?
Who else, but Sir Paul?
Paul McCartney may not be as flashy as Victor or Jaco, and he's not as well known for pure technical talent, but Paul can play. Not just a great songwriter and singer, Paul's melodic bass lines are at the heart of so many Beatles songs. Naming a tank "Paul" is a sign of respect for the pioneers of the past — just like a brewer needs to have a keen sense of historical context to brew an authentic beer to style.
If Paul is the past, Joe is the future.
Ladies and Gentleman, meet Joe Dart:
Joe Dart is a bassists' bassist. Sure he can shred, but he can also hold down the groove. He's grounded — but still innovative. Maybe most of all, his band's music is just ... fun. Joe Dart (and by extension Vulfpeck) represents craft beer's future. Vulfpeck is exciting because they sound like nobody else, but use a musical language that's familiar (and a little old school).
A good Brewer takes classical styles and reworks them into something new. Good beer should dazzle and excite, but have familiar elements that make it approachable. If my beer tastes half as good as Vulfpeck sounds, I'll be ecstatic.
So that's it. Those are our four fermenters. Four tanks, each with their own personalities, each capable of making wonderful beer. Now the challenge is for me to live up to their namesakes.