Curious about the brilliant minds behind some of the world’s best craft beers? So is The Wench, which is why I’ve started the “Inside the Mash Tun” brewer spotlight series featuring some of the most talented men and women in the craft beer industry.
Today I am truly honored to introduce you to my good friend Eric Surface, the very funny and always charming Jack-of-all-trades and owner of Mt. Tabor Brewing Company in Vancouver, WA. Eric is also an advocate of the beer cocktail movement, which you all know is near and dear to my heart! Cheers!!!
Brewer Spotlight: Eric Surface
How did you get into the craft beer industry?
I started out as a homebrewer with several friends.
How long have you been brewing at Mt Tabor?
Originally, it was known as the Mt Tabor Brew Crew and there were 5-6 of us who got together once a month to brew beer post marriage and kids. It was our excuse to get together and hang out once a month. Eventually there were two of us who were hooked on it and that’s when the ball started rolling downhill. Hence Mt Tabor Brewing was created over one too many beers if I remember right.
Out of all the beers you have brewed, what is your all-time favorite?
Originally it was the Asylum Ave IPA, I think I brewed that beer at least 30 times before I got it where I wanted it. But as of the past few years my all time favorite house beer is the Sibeerian Bull Imperial Stout. I only brew it once a year and it can last several years. I just finished off a keg that was from 2009.
What is your favorite beer and food pairing?
Up until recently, my favorite food and beer pairing was an Imperial Stout Float. Take the Sibeerian bull and combine it with either coconut or peppermint candy ice cream and I’m hooked. Recently we did a food and beer paring dinner with Tommy O’s Pacific Rim Bistro in Vancouver. That night I realized how well a hoppy IPA that’s fermented with a Belgian yeast pairs with a simple salad that had butter lettuce, citrus wedges, fennel and a citrus vinnagrete. Probably one of the best beer/food pairings I’ve ever tasted.
What is the best part about working for Mt Tabor?
My favorite part of working at the brewery is the freedom to express my creativity. I love combining beer styles that i like to create something that’s unique to MTBC.
If you were a style of beer, what would you be and why?
Probably something that’s bitter, I’m becoming a bitter old man these days due to lack of sleep.
Outside of craft beer, what are some of your other hobbies and interests?
My wife and kids are very important. With the amount of time I spend on my regular job as well as getting the new brewery location firing on all cylinders doesn’t leave much time for anything else. So what ever they want to do I’m in or at least I’m along for the ride. We like to explore the cities around us, travel to the mountains and spend time outdoors and hang out with other families. My wife and I like to sample new restaurants whenever we get the chance, you never know where we might want to get a tap handle at next…
And lastly, what does craft beer mean to you?
Wow, that’s a tough question. I look at crafting beer more as creating something that is unique to individual or the brewery. Throw out the traditions, style guidelines or rules and it’s all about creating something that you envision on your taste buds and want to see in your glass.
Want to see one of your favorite brewers featured? Just leave a note in the comment section below or shoot me an email!