Brewer Magazine Q&A: Andy Schwartz, Stony Creek

This is a part of a continuing series of Q&As with brewers from across the U.S.
Brewer Magazine will share business and personal insights from Brewmasters, Head Brewers, Brewing Managers and others each weekend to help you, a fellow brewer, Brewmaster or brewing manager get to know each other better in the industry and learn more to better develop your own brand.

Andy Schwartz, Brewmaster, Stony Creek Brewery — Branford, Connecticut

BREWER: What is a lesson learned within your position that sticks with you to this day?
SCHWARTZ: Stay calm, there is a solution to every problem, might not be an easy solution. We are not in this to make easy beer. We’re in this to make great beer.

BREWER: Who is your mentor in the industry and why? What have you learned from them?
SCHWARTZ: Dick Doore, owner of Left Hand Brewing Company. He gave me my first real shot as a head brewer. Dick (and his partner Eric Wallace) taught me the importance of balance, the importance of strong core beers, the importance of being a part of a community of brewers, and the importance of never relenting on quality.

BREWER: What have you added to your brewery lately that’s unique or making your business more successful?
SCHWARTZ: We are in the process of building a brewpub in Foxwoods Casino here in Connecticut. This will be a fully functioning brewery within a casino. It will help us reach more of our customers and give them a truly unique experience with our brand. It will also give us the opportunity to promote Connecticut beer in general via guest beers and collaborations.

BREWER: In today’s business climate for craft beer, how will your brewery grow?
SCHWARTZ: To us, the secret to growing and surviving in today’s business climate is first and foremost, professionally made beer that is high in quality and consistency. Second, is the ability and opportunity to give your customers a real experience with your beer and brand via our waterfront brewery and tap room as well as opportunities like our Foxwoods Resort and Casino brewpub and tap room. Lastly, is a professional sales team that has the personnel to penetrate and succeed in the chain world.

BREWER: What sort of innovations in craft beer excite you?
SCHWARTZ: Craft brewed Lagers excite me. It’s really hard to make a good, clean, perfect lager. Extracting exiting flavors and aromas out of more traditional/old school hops also excites me. To me, it’s too easy to simply load a beer up with a shit load of Citra and Mosaic and call it a day. I know a few brewers who are using super non “hot and exciting” hops like Sterling, and Chinook and Columbus (many of the old school “C” hops) and getting unbelievable juicy fruity hop aromas out of them. By using real creativity and sound technique, they are extracting flavors and aromas that others are with much trendier and more expensive hops.

BREWER: If you had one strategy that you could implement to better the craft beer business, what would it be?
SCHWARTZ: Re-focus on quality and consistency and well packaged beer. Local and new are great, but it isn’t the be all and end all, and should never be accepted as a guarantee of quality. Brewers, and most importantly customers, should demand consistency and quality in their beer.

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