Sean Law­son’s

Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine - - Contents - By Jamie Bogner

6-pack of fa­vorite beers is al­ways in flux, chang­ing based on where he is and what’s he’s drink­ing at the time. A con­ver­sa­tion with the founder of Law­son’s Finest Liq­uids.

Law­son’s Finest Liq­uids Founder Sean Law­son got his start as a nanobrewer, mak­ing tiny batches and ex­plor­ing the range of beer from hops-for­ward IPAS to a va­ri­ety of beers made with the sig­na­ture in­gre­di­ent of his home state—maple syrup. His 6-pack of fa­vorite beers is al­ways in flux, chang­ing based on where he is and what’s he’s drink­ing at the time, and this list is heav­ily in­flu­enced by the lo­ca­tion of our in­ter­view in Nashville, Ten­nessee.

“I DON’T PICK FA­VORITES, and it changes all the time,” says Sean Law­son. He’s a hard one to pin down for a 6-pack of fa­vorite or in­spi­ra­tional beers, but the more we talk, the more I sense that it’s not in­de­ci­sive­ness as much as im­me­di­acy that drives him. Law­son is a fan of beer—all beer, just about ev­ery style—and can find the right time and place for any­thing from Can­til­lon to Miller High Life.

There’s some­thing gen­uine about Law­son’s en­thu­si­asm for such a range of beers. It’s not a cal­cu­lated hip­ster­ism or a care­fully crafted nar­ra­tive as much as it is a stream of con­scious­ness down­load marked by an hon­est ap­pre­ci­a­tion for the tal­ent em­ployed by his con­tem­po­raries. As the old saw goes, the best beer is the one in your hand right now, and for Law­son, the best beers are the ones burn­ing bright­est in his short-term me­mory. “[My fa­vorites] very much de­pend on where I am, what I’m do­ing, who I’m with. So each week, each month, each year, the 6-pack would look re­ally dif­fer­ent,” he says.

Our con­ver­sa­tion took place in Nashville, Ten­nessee, at the an­nual Craft Brew­ers Con­fer­ence, and the lo­ca­tion, friends, and ex­pe­ri­ences were top of mind for Law­son as he built his men­tal check­list. While you’ll find some­thing dif­fer­ent in his fridge de­pend­ing on the week or month, these are, in his words, “The first six beers that come to mind.”

Bearded Iris Home­style IPA

(Nashville, Ten­nessee) “We’re here in Nashville, and went out to din­ner the first night that we got here. The folks who ar­rived there first had al­ready or­dered for us, and I wasn’t sure what it was at the time—ei­ther an IPA or a dou­ble Ipa—but they or­dered a canned beer from Bearded Iris. We poured it out into a glass, and it just pre­sented beau­ti­fully—it was nice; it was soft; it had this huge bou­quet to it; it had a re­ally juicy, trop­i­cal, fruity, hops-for­ward fla­vor to it and a won­der­ful bal­ance. So that was a won­der­ful ex­pe­ri­ence here in Nashville, and I’d want that beer in my 6-pack this week.”

Ya­zoo Brew­ing Com­pany Daddy-o Pil­sner

(Nashville, Ten­nessee) “I sat down at Martin’s Bar­be­cue, just up the street here, and or­dered up some ribs. It was a heav­enly ex­pe­ri­ence be­cause we were starv­ing and had been go-go-go all day. It was 4 o’clock in the af­ter­noon,

and we hadn’t had lunch. It smells amaz­ing in this place. We sit down at the bar, or­der up a round of beer and a plat­ter of meat—ribs, pulled pork, brisket. The meat falls off the bone, and there was a beau­ti­ful dry-rub sea­son­ing on the ribs. And there they are—our beers. I’d or­dered the Daddy-o Pil­sner from Ya­zoo. In that mo­ment, paired with the bar­be­cue, it was re­ally fan­tas­tic.”

Brasserie Can­til­lon Fou’ Foune

(Brus­sels, Bel­gium) “My wife and I went to Bel­gium a few years ago and did a nice Europe tour for our tenth wed­ding an­niver­sary. We got to leave the kids with Grandma and trav­eled for fif­teen days around Europe. We went to Ger­many, we went to Bel­gium, and my wife was very ac­com­mo­dat­ing of my beer jour­neys in those two coun­tries. I went to Can­til­lon, and I got to meet with the own­ers—jean Van Roy and his fa­ther—and met with them at the end of the day, both hang­ing out and drink­ing beers with us. I tasted Fou’ Foune, which is such a mem­o­rable beer. In terms of “all-time” beers, for a re­ally beau­ti­ful, soft, Senne River Val­ley spon­ta­neous sour, I’ll never for­get that beer.

“For me, beer is def­i­nitely all about the ex­pe­ri­ence. That’s what we’re hop­ing to cre­ate with our new tap­room, re­tail store, and pro­duc­tion brew­ery. We’ve never re­ally been able to cre­ate the Law­son’s Finest Ex­pe­ri­ence for peo­ple at our own place be­cause you can’t (cur­rently) get to the brew­ery [due to its res­i­den­tial lo­ca­tion], we don’t have tours or a re­tail shop, tap­room, or tast­ings. The only way for us to cre­ate the ex­pe­ri­ence has been to get out to events and fes­ti­vals, but that’s such a lim­ited win­dow for peo­ple get­ting to in­ter­act with us. So we’re re­ally ex­cited about [our new brew­ery, re­tail store, and tap­room in Waits­field, Ver­mont].”

Zero Grav­ity Craft Brew­ery Green State Lager

(Burling­ton, Ver­mont) “I’m good friends with Paul Sayler and the guys up at Zero Grav­ity Craft Brew­ery and Amer­i­can Flat­bread in Burling­ton, Ver­mont. I love their Green State Lager. We get out on the golf course with Matt, one of the head guys there, and Green State Lager is our beer of choice. Whether it’s on the golf course or af­ter a day of ski­ing up at Mad River Glen, be­cause they usu­ally have it on tap as well, that’s a beer I’d put in my 6-pack right now.”

The Al­chemist Fo­cal Banger

(Stowe, Ver­mont) “Fo­cal Banger is a beer that I’ll al­ways or­der when I’m out, or if I’m go­ing through Stowe, I’ll def­i­nitely swing by the brew­ery and pick up some of that beer. It’s def­i­nitely one of my fa­vorite beers com­ing out of Ver­mont, or any­where.

“I love the way the whole beer comes to­gether—it’s bal­anced, it’s hops-for­ward while bal­anced at the same time, it has a big bou­quet on it, and it’s 7 per­cent al­co­hol, but it’s to­tally crush­able. It just drinks re­ally nicely.

“John Kim­mich of the Al­chemist, in the early days when they just had a brew­pub, would eval­u­ate beers with this test—when you drink a whole pint, do you want to or­der an­other pint? Fo­cal Banger is a beer where ab­so­lutely if you drink a full pint, you want an­other pint. It’s de­li­cious.”

Har­poon Brew­ery Bos­ton Ir­ish Stout (Ni­tro)

(Bos­ton, Mas­sachusetts) “The other beer that I’ve been drink­ing at home a lot lately that’s been hit­ting the spot is Har­poon Bos­ton Ir­ish Stout on ni­tro. I re­ally want some­thing like that in our port­fo­lio. It’s less than 5 per­cent ABV; it’s what I’d call ‘ta­ble-strength beer’— you can drink a few with­out get­ting too buzzed. It’s got a re­ally soft, creamy mouth­feel. So much about how a beer comes to­gether is whether it’s bal­anced and whether it has the right fla­vor com­po­nents, and that beer hits the mark.

“Bal­ance means dif­fer­ent things to dif­fer­ent peo­ple be­cause taste and fla­vor and sen­sory is so sub­jec­tive. For me, bal­ance means it has the right amount of body and al­co­hol for the style; it has the right ra­tio of sweet­ness to bit­ter­ness to umami. And for me, bal­ance means you take a sip and want to take an­other sip. There’s def­i­nitely some­thing in­tan­gi­ble about it.”

Miller High Life

(Milwaukee, Wis­con­sin) “We were out late last night at the honky­tonk bars and or­dered up a Miller High Life. It was beau­ti­ful. It hit the spot. There’s a time and a place for just about ev­ery beer.”

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