The Improv Brewing Life
Jolly Pumpkin founder and brewing visionary Ron Jeffries is a free spirit who embraces the joy of discovery from unanticipated results and a contextual approach to everything from brewing to his marriage. These six beers (plus a seventh of personal import
“FOR THE RECORD,
I don’t want to be stuck on a deserted island,” says Ron Jeffries. It’s not that he’s afraid of boats—he’s spent plenty of time on them—but that experience is exactly why he doesn’t want to risk it now. “Boats break.”
Thankfully, his 6-pack doesn’t depend on being stranded on an actual island, as the exercise is purely theoretical. And that’s a good thing because Ron—a pioneering figure in the world of American wild beer and mixed fermentation—derives as much enjoyment from the relationships he’s developed with peer brewers as he does from the beer he brews himself. In that context, narrowing down a list to only six beers is hard work.
“I spent the past two days thinking about this list, and the first thing I did was copy all the beers that Jeffrey [Stuffings, of Jester King Brewery] and Vinnie [Cilurzo, of Russian River Brewing] put down. But then I scratched them all out because that would clearly just be copying their beers,” he says.
His final list is part homage, part ode to the people who inspire him, and part nod to a new generation of young, creative brewers.
Brasserie de la Senne (Brussels, Belgium)
“Yvan de Baets is a fantastic brewer and a really nice guy, and the beer is just so light, dry, refreshing, and hoppy. The way they use hops is different than anyone in the United States, and if I could figure out how they do that, I’d do that in at least one beer because it’s absolutely delicious. That’s my one ‘copycat’ beer on the list.”
Monkish Brewing, Torrance, California “Henry [Nguyen] started by brewing a bunch of mixed-culture beers, and he still does that (and does it really, really well), but what he’s done phenomenally well is brewing a style of IPA he calls ‘Monkish