Brewer Magazine Q&A: Jason Buehler, Denver Beer Co.

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.

Jason Buehler, head brewer, Denver Beer Co. — Denver

BREWER: What is a lesson learned within your position that sticks with you to this day?
BUEHLER: There is always a way. In craft beer, we’re always trying to find new ways to innovate, create new flavors, fit more barrels or tanks in the brewery, or squeeze in an extra batch of beer with limited manpower. The only way to keep things moving forward is to tell yourself that no matter what the challenge is that you’ll find a way to solve it. I never like to hear a coworker say ‘we can’t do that because… .’ Got 200 lbs of shredded coconut accidentally sitting in the bottom of a 20-foot tall vessel with the manway on top and a 1.5-inch port on the bottom? No problem. We’ll find a way.

BREWER: Who is your mentor in the industry and why? What have you learned from them?
BUEHLER: There is a collection of amazing brewers that I’ve been lucky enough to have gotten to know over the years, either over beers or by brewing with them. Most of them both. This isn’t a knock on brewing school but I’ve learned more over a bottle of bourbon late night at a brewer’s house than any class could teach me. If I run into any trouble, help is always a phone call away. I love that about craft beer. If I need to know how much lavender to put in a Pale Ale or how to handle my kids at home I have close brewer friends that I can call anytime for help.

BREWER: What have you added to your brewery lately that’s unique or making your business more successful?
BUEHLER: We recently opened a new brewery called Cerveceria Colorado, serving only beers inspired by Mexican ingredients. It’s been an interesting journey, one that’s been successful both from a business standpoint and for me personally. We’ve been able to develop some amazing relationships with Mexican craft brewers, sharing the knowledge that we have about American craft beer and learning a ton from them about Mexican culture. The resulting beers are fun, unique, and completely different from the beers at Denver Beer Company.

BREWER: In today’s business climate for craft beer, how will your brewery grow?
BUEHLER: We must continually be focused on quality while staying innovative from both a beer and service standpoint. You can’t just jump on current trends, you have to find ways to stand out and be different but keep quality up as well. Marketing and relating what you are doing to the public is also key.

BREWER: What sort of innovations in craft beer excite you?
BUEHLER: Untapped beer ingredients. Things you can put in beer that taste great that nobody has done before. New ways to give beer consumers a different experience, from new package formats to unique visuals. Weed. Different types of wood aged beer. And bright, tropical hops.

BREWER: If you had one strategy that you could implement to better the craft beer business, what would it be?
BUEHLER: Lower the drinking age. I was fortunate to find craft beer at a fairly young age but when I think back, it sucks that the government robbed me of a few more years of craft beer enjoyment in my life. Craft beer is amazing and I believe 18-year-olds should have the right to be able to enjoy it, too!

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