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 would like to introduce to Alex Ganum, the owner and head brewer of one of Portland’s most beloved craft breweries, Upright Brewing. Alex recently took home a bronze at the World Beer Cup 2012 for its Oyster Stout at the World Beer Cup 2012 in the category for “Indigenous Beers”. (Headline Photo Credit: Brewpublic.com)
Inside the Mash Tun: Alex Ganum
How did you get into the craft beer industry?
Like everyone else, homebrewer who couldn’t stop! I started right after moving to Portland in 2002 after meeting a bunch of other homebrewers, and within a year and a half ended up as an intern at Brewery Ommegang. That was a wonderful experience, both professionally and personally, and I returned to Portland in early 2004 to look for a gig. Eventually Dan Pedersen who ran the local BJ’s hired me, and I spent a few years there learning a bunch and having a blast making beer!
How long have you been brewing at Upright?
Upright started producing beer in March 2009.
Out of all the beers you have brewed, what is your all-time favorite?
Wow, tough question. I’ve made a lot of beers here. For the bigger releases, I’d have to say the Flora Rustica really does it for me. I’m just a sucker for that herbaceous/floral/bitter profile. For smaller batch beer, probably the Special Herbs. That one brought together pretty wild aromatics in a pleasant way, and had a great level of acidity that played into the whole thing perfectly.
What is you favorite beer and food pairing?
Anchor Steam and plain cake donuts. I also like to mess around with stinky cheeses and various beers.
What is the best part about working for Upright?
Being a brewer is fun because for all the hard work, the job really is super satisfying and you can show up and leave with a big smile everyday. Specific to Upright, I’d say getting to work on different styles throughout the year is the best part.
If you were a style of beer, what would you be and why?
That’s a silly question.
Outside of craft beer, what are some of your other hobbies and interests?
I like pursuing other projects and have another business with more to come down the road, which certainly chews up some time. Apart from that, I enjoy going out to new restaurants with friends, visiting wineries, distilleries, and the like, and also listening to records, mostly jazz, orchestral and Afro-Cuban.
And lastly, what does craft beer mean to you?
Craft beer is so much. Personal pleasure, bonding with others, and quenching thirst to name a few. It’s not heavy or serious, even if you pour yourself into it completely or can’t imagine living without it. You know the feeling. It is the real thing.
Want to see one of your favorite brewers featured? Just leave a note in the comment section below or shoot me an email!