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Good Beer Hunting

Oct 23, 2021

There are a lot of parallels between good music and good beer, from the similarly creative processes of conceptualizing new beers and writing new songs to the way independent makers are fighting for their place at the table in two industries that are dominated by massive corporations. Beer media and music publications have a lot in common, too. 

Although I mostly write about food and drink nowadays, I got my start by writing music reviews for the San Francisco Bay Guardian while playing guitar in an indie band in the city. Several beer writers, actually, started out as music writers. And more than a few brewers, publicans, and brewery owners had early careers in the music industry.

In this episode, I talk to Blake Enemark, head brewer at Tailgunner Brewing Company in Calgary, Alberta. Before he became a brewer, Blake played guitar in a band called We Are the City, touring in a van from show to show and recording a bunch of cool songs. Since he left the band, he’s become an award-winning brewer who spent a couple of years working with Mike Lackey at Great Lakes Brewery in Ontario, followed by gigs at breweries like Last Best and OT Brewing in Calgary. We met at the Central European Brewers Conference in Budapest, Hungary, where Blake was giving a presentation on modern IPA techniques. (Interestingly, he says that one of his most popular beers at Tailgunner is a Czech-style pale lager, a style that is close to my own heart.) We talk about music and brewing, what the two fields have in common and what sets them apart, as well as Blake’s influences, from brewers he never brewed with (but was inspired by) to mentors like Luc “Bim” Lafontaine of Godspeed Brewery in Toronto.

By chance, we’re speaking at the Hungarian Rock Museum, which is filled with vintage guitars, musical equipment, and photographs of people rocking out.