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Published: 2012/03/07
by Dean Budnick

Brewskis with Kyle Hollingsworth

Tonight in Avon, Colorado, Kyle Hollingsworth opens his BrewSki Tour. Each of these shows will offer “a one-time-only craft beer collaboration from Kyle & Breckenridge Brewery on tap at each show,” with “one keg of the collaboration brew available for FREE for the first hour, while supplies lasts.” Both beer and music are the topics of conversation in this interview, which was seeded by a series of questions submitted by readers.

Let’s start off by talking about beer. A few folks wondered if you can suggest a book or website for someone searching for tips and recipes?

There’s a great book I got into. What I love about it is that it is full of recipes and full of encouragement and full of history. It is called Designing Great Beers. I did a bunch of brew experiences across the U.S. at festivals and I had this book as my bible. You open it up and it will tell you about the history of porters and some cool recipes and ways to make beer making easier.

When you work with breweries to create a signature beer, do you have a style in mind going into it? Do you talk with the brewmaster and then sort it all out?

I usually have some sense of what I would like to do and they’re always open. I’m more of a celebrity brewer. Every year a lot of the breweries have a great home brewer come in and win a chance to make something at the brewery. So in a lot of ways I treat it like that. I’ll bring a recipe in and sometimes they’ll say “Well, we can do it this way, this way, or this way.” Sometimes I’m like, “what haven’t you made in a while? Let’s try and make something unique.” We talked about vanilla porters the other day. They’ve never made one up at Odell’s so I found an old recipe of mine. So it’s a mixture of me bringing recipes and also working together. It’s a collaboration.

Do you have a go-to recipe at home that you do exceptionally well?

Yeah, my friend and I made together called Solstice Spice. We recently took the recipe down to a company called Dry Dock, they’re out of Southern Denver and we took it to the big system, which is a whole lot of fun. It’s the same recipe that I’ve been making at my house for many years. Things like Hoopla I’ve never made at my house. But this one I went down and I had them make it, in some ways a lot better than I could ever make it. They have extracts, partial grain masses and all the great yeast strains, they’re using everything for real. It was a whole other level.

What most surprised you about brewing on that level?

What surprised me the most…It’s almost exactly like home-brewing—a lot bigger with greater quantities but it’s the same thing. You’re just boiling 500 gallons. That surprised me the most, probably. You just go in there and chop the grains, put the hops in. It’s exactly like home-brewing.

Do you have anything in the works for 2012?

Not yet. We are still talking about Hoopla, hopefully that will come through. There will always be collaborations as far as small pilot batches but nothing on a national scale. I’m always working with local breweries, niche brews.

What do you think about brewing on a national scale? Does something potentially get lost in the process?

I think it all comes down to the quality. All the brewers in every place I brew, they all have their own flagship brew. The chemistry behind brewing has made it so it can be the same every single time. That’s another surprising thing, actually. The chemistry involved was a really big thing for me. They really test it every single time.

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