Interview with Ryan Maloney, 2015 December 29

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  • Introduction and early life
    Partial Transcript: "I grew up here in Milford, I was born and raised on a farm..." "My wife got me a homebrewing kit for my 24th birthday..."
    Synopsis: Maloney discusses his background as a native of Milford Delaware. He says that after serving in the Marines he was gifted a home brewing kit. He talks about how he learned the science of beer brewing from the Siebel Institute in Chicago, Illinois. He talks about transitioning from home brewing to large scale brewing. He says that large scale brewing is more mechanical and precise.
    Keywords: brewing; home brewing; Milford, Delaware; Mispillion River Brewing Company; production brewing; science; Siebel Institute; United States Marine Corps
  • A sketch of the brewing process and brewing equipment
    Partial Transcript: "We use what's called a two vessel system..."
    Synopsis: Maloney describes how the beer brewing process works. He describes how it works in the brewing equipment that he uses, noting that different brewing setups all do the same basic thing, but the process may be different. He describes some of the other equipment at the brewery that they do not use that often.
    Keywords: American Brewing; brewing equipment; brewing process; German Brewing; hops; Mispillion River
  • Changes to American brewing
    Partial Transcript: "The styles and the types of beers were very much European in design, American brewing didn't have it's own style..."
    Synopsis: Maloney talks about changes to American brewing. He says that in early history American brewing imitated European brewing. He talks about how prohibition destroyed the industry. He traces the development of a truly American style of brewing to Sierra Nevada and their use of American hops. He says that the most interesting aspect of American brewing is its creativity. He talks about the world wide spread of American craft brewing.
    Keywords: American brewing; brewing techniques; European brewing; German brewing; hops; lager; pilsner; Prohibition; Sierra Nevada Brewing Company
  • Maloney's thoughts on creativity in the brewing process
    Partial Transcript: "We want to be innovative, creative... its a bit of the food industry too, every chef has a little artistic flair... it's pretty important." "American craft beer is... an art."
    Synopsis: Maloney talks about his approach to creativity in brewing. He says that it is an art. He discusses the process of adding and using new ingredients and changing water composition, and different kinds of grains that he can use to make beer. He says that he is willing to try any ingredient and technique as long as it is safe for human consumption.
    Keywords: art; brewing; creativity; grains; hops
  • The challenges of producing beer because its a living product
    Partial Transcript: "People want a consistent product...part of our job is to educate people that beer is a living thing..."
    Synopsis: Maloney talks about the challenges of making a living thing and making sure that the product remains consistent. He also talks about consumer education and quality control in the brewery. He describes some happy accidents that have happened in the brewing process that he has then tried to repeat.
    Keywords: accidents; brewing; consumer education; quality control; sanitation
  • Maloney's changing roles and changing equipment at Mispillion River
    Partial Transcript: "I seldom brew anymore, I'm more at a desk ordering grain and making sure our hop contracts are up to date... I do less physical brewing now."
    Synopsis: Maloney describes his changing role at Mispillion River. He says that he rarely brews himself, but that he helped to train the current staff. He describes his staffing and training system. He talks about how the equipment has changed at the brewery. He talks about the quirks and character of some of the machines.
    Keywords: brewing; brewing equipment; staffing; work
  • Sourcing grain and hops for the brewery
    Partial Transcript: "Grain is fairly easy to get... there's two main suppliers." "...hops are a different animal, you're contracting out hops three years down the road... they're a precious commodity..."
    Synopsis: Maloney talks about sourcing beer ingredients. He says that grain is easy to get. He says that hops are difficult to get due to scarcity and that they must be contracted out three years in advance. He says that current growth is limited by the future supply of hops, which means he must be a good predictor of the future. He says that it is difficult to make sure he does not over contract supplies of hops.
    Keywords: grains; hops; ingredients; supply chains
  • Discussion on varieties of hops and brewing beer
    Partial Transcript: "There's a lot of good hops... for bittering... I like Columbus, I think its good and clean..."
    Synopsis: Maloney talks about his favorite kinds of hops and why. He explains which type of hops are good and what flavors they impart to beer depending on when they are added to the brewing beer. He talks about trying new, unproven, types of hops and some hop varieties that are hard to acquire.
    Keywords: Azacca hops; brewing; Cascade hops; Centennial hops; Citra hops; Columbus hops; hops; Mosaic hops; Oregon; Washington
  • Brewing beer and water quality
    Partial Transcript: "We have ahrd water, but its not that bad..." "We have pretty middle of the road water here..."
    Synopsis: Maloney talks about the importance of water and water quality in brewing different kinds of beers. He says that hard water is more suitable to certain kinds of beer and vice versa.
    Keywords: ale; hard water; ipa; pilsner; soft water; stout
  • Sourcing grain for brewing beer
    Partial Transcript: "They source it from all over the place, a lot of it's America or Canada..."
    Synopsis: Maloney talks about where Mispillion River sources their grain from. He also talks about how different types of grain are better for different types of beer. He says that two things can change grain: the type of grain, and the particulars of the kilning process.
    Keywords: aromatic grains; Canada; chocolate; coffee; Germany; grain; kilning; malt; malting; types of beer; United States of America
  • Maloney's favorite styles of beer to brew
    Partial Transcript: "Beers that I have to dry hop are more of a pain in the butt to brew... but at the same time I love them..." "The beers that are not fun to brew are the lagers where you have to be... there's nowhere to hide an imperfection...it's hard to hide the flaws...they also take longer..."
    Synopsis: Maloney talks about his favorite and least favorite beers to brew. He says that he enjoys the taste of dry hopped beers but dislikes doing the extra work. He says that ales, like IPAs are fun to brew, while lagers are not because they are more time consuming, and harder to perfect. He adds that lagers are harder to brew and less profitable to sell.
    Keywords: ale; beer; brewing; dry hopping; hops; IPA; lager
  • Canning versus bottling beer
    Partial Transcript: "As a brewer, I think the stability of a can is actually a little bit better than the stability of a bottle"
    Synopsis: Maloney offers his thoughts on canning beer versus bottling beer. He says that as a brewer, he believes that modern canning is better than bottling because it offers total light protection. He also says that cans are the "green" choice from an environmental perspective. He says that the big challenge of cans is consumer perception, as many beer buyers associate canned beer with low quality beer, he notes that perceptions are changing. He attaches the debate to can versus bottles to seasonality and marketing beer. He talks about consumer trends in beers and cites the example of the growing popularity of sour beers. He says that they brew things they are passionate about.
    Keywords: bottling; canning; consumer perception; environmentalism; marketing; selling beer; sour beer; stout
  • Measuring ABV (Alcohol by Volume) and IBU (International Bittering Units)
    Partial Transcript: "There's some tasting done, we can do out testing for ABV in house..." "I don't like IBUs..."
    Synopsis: Maloney talks about quality control and testing beer for ABV and IBU. He says that he does not like the IBU scale because he does not feel it is accurate enough in determining whether or not a beer is bitter, he says he sees it as a deterrent to people trying new beers.
    Keywords: ABV; IBU; laboratory testing; quality control; specific gravity
  • Changes to Maloney's beer drinking since becoming a professional brewer
    Partial Transcript: "I like the craft behind brewing even more than I like to drink beer...not that I don't like beer, I love beer..."
    Synopsis: Maloney talks about his beer drinking habits. He says that he prefers to not drink very much and usually only drinks in the brewery for tastings. He remarks that he is more interested in the process and craft of brewing beer than he is in drinking beer.
    Keywords: beer; brewing; drinking; quality control; tasting
  • Future beer brewing goals and competition
    Partial Transcript: "I would love as a company... for one of our recipes to win one [a gold medal]" "Four months into producing our beer, we won a silver for... an American Belgian pale ale"
    Synopsis: Maloney talks about some of his future goals, and says he wants to win a gold medal at a beer competitions and notes that they have won silver and bronze medals. He notes how early in operation they won a silver medal in the World Beer Cup and a bronze in the Great American Beer Festival. He says that he thinks competition has gotten more fierce over the years and the number of brewers participating has grown.
    Keywords: competitions; future; Great American Beer Festival; medals; World Beer Cup
  • Creating an identity for Mispillion River's beer
    Partial Transcript: "...our philosophy is to brew across the board, tons of styles and to show no fear in that..." "There's not many other brewers that do sours..." "...be who you are... maybe that's what we're trying to convey..."
    Synopsis: Maloney talks about how to stand out as a company and the difficulties to do so in a crowded market. He says that they do it by their packaging and the variety of beers brewed. He notes that their brewery is one of the few in Delaware that brews sour beer. He says they want to be seen as a bunch of nerds who love beer and pop culture and that everyone is welcome.
    Keywords: beer; branding; brewing; creativity; Mispillion River; sour beer
  • Maloney's and Mispillion River's future
    Partial Transcript: "I love challenges... I think I prefer to almost struggle sometimes..."
    Synopsis: Maloney talks about his hopes for the future. He says that he loves the challenges that come with growth and expansion, he says that it is exciting. He says that some of his favorite memories are from days where things didn't go as planned, but they worked out anyway. He says that as far as the brewery goes, he is not sure if they have a maximum size in mind, but he would like to become a regional brewery. He says that they currently produce 1800 barrels a year.
    Keywords: expansion; growth; risk; the future
  • Other products made by Mispillion River
    Partial Transcript: "We do cold brew coffee, we do soda, so we're not only essentially focused on the production of beer... we're focused on a good time for people and a quality product..."
    Synopsis: Maloney talks about other products made by Mispillion River, namely coffee and soda.He says that they offer coffee and soda because there are customers who want a handcrafted product, but for whatever reason do not or will not drink beer, for example designated drivers. He says that he does not believe either product is particularly profitable. He talks about future plans to produce cider and the regulatory challenges of expanding in that direction which stem from federal and state laws being significantly different from each other.
    Keywords: beer; cider; coffee; handcrafted product; quality; soda
  • Government regulations and Mispillion River; challenges from distributors and large-scale breweries
    Partial Transcript: "We have to rack all of our sales and our production and it gets taxed..."
    Synopsis: Maloney talks about the role of government regulation in Mispillion River's day to day operations. He talks about Delaware's three tiered distribution system. He says in his personal view it needs some retooling and does not make sense with modern beer production. He thinks large breweries express undue influence on beer distributors because of how much of the distributor's profits rely on products from one or two companies. He says he would like more control over distributing Mispillion's products but that he likes working with distributors because of how important they are for generating sales.
    Keywords: AB InBev; Anheuser Busch; Delaware; distributors; government; Miller-Coors; money; regulations; retailers; rules; taxes; three tiered system
  • Thoughts on consolidation in the craft beer industry and the craft beer bubble
    Partial Transcript: "A lot of the big breweries... they've been doing it for twenty years... and these guys, I don't fault them..."
    Synopsis: Maloney offers his thoughts on consolidation within the craft beer industry. He says he supports their decisions, but finds that its a disappointment when craft brewers are bought by the big breweries. He says that he cannot offer an opinion on whether or not there is a craft beer bubble, but he does think the market will hit a saturation point.
    Keywords: AB InBev; Anheuser Busch; consolidation; craft beer; economic bubbles; Goose Island; IPA: Miller-Coors; retirement; sales