Brewer Magazine Q&A: Jeff Hancock, DC Brau

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.

Jeff Hancock, co-founder, President & Head Brewer, DC Brau — Washington DC

BREWER: What is a lesson learned within your position that sticks with you to this day?
HANCOCK: Always be humble and gracious towards others; keep an open mind; and try to learn something new every day on the job. Sorry that was more like 4 lessons.

BREWER: Who is your mentor in the industry and why? What have you learned from them?
HANCOCK: I really don’t have a particular mentor I communicate with on the regular. I primarily look to my peers all over the country who all opened our own breweries around 2009 for insight. We’d all had previous industry experience, but the knowledge we’ve all collectively gained being in the industry and running our own breweries for seven-plus years is invaluable. I’ve learned and absorbed a lot of great advice, but the one that sticks out is to always be solutions focused. Anyone can tell you what the problem is, but if you bring a potential solution to the problem and add value in that way, it makes working through the problem that much easier.

BREWER: What have you added to your brewery lately that’s unique or making your business more successful?
HANCOCK: We recently commissioned a 40hl GEA Craft-Start brewhouse that has been a game changer for us since we were at a cap in production of 15,500 bbls on a 3-vessel 15-bbl set-up. We’ve been brewing on it for six months now, and it has made everyone’s life easier. The new brewhouse also gives us the ability to accurately recreate traditional German-style beers through the ability to implement decoction or step mashing regimes with ease. We seen marked improvements in the quality of our Hefeweizen and Bohemian-style Pilsner.

BREWER: In today’s business climate for craft beer, how will your brewery grow?
HANCOCK: We’ll continue to do what we do best — producing world class beer with a focus on hop-forward ales and the re-creation of traditional styles from Belgium, Germany and England. We’re in the process of opening up some additional east coast markets that have shown us love over the years. We recently opened the Boston and Tidewater, Virginia markets and expanded our reach in Philadelphia. We’re also looking across the pond. We have been awarded a spot in the Swedish tender (more commonly know as the System Bolaget) for our Brau Pils, and hope to use this opportunity as a springboard into Finland & Norway, then into Europe as a whole soon. (Editor’s Note: Read more here)

BREWER: What sort of innovations in craft beer excite you?
HANCOCK: Just coming off the heels of the 2018 Craft Brewers Conference, I’m very excited about the advances being made with extraction around essential hop oils and terpenes. The tech has come so far that it seems with the right combination of terms brewers will be able to create very aroma-driven hoppy beers and not have to sacrifice poor yields in the BBT’s. I met a brewer who makes an IPA and uses only hop oils for the dry hop addition, that definitely twists my head to think about since those aromas come at a price when the breweries are using between 4-8 pounds per bbl of dry hops. Small scale CO2 recovery also excites me. There are companies producing and engineering CO2 recovery systems for producers as small as 2,000 bbls all the way up to 15,000 bbls. When you think about it, most breweries produce more CO2 than spent grain as far as their primary waste stream. Having the ability to cut down on carbon emissions is a big deal in my book.

BREWER: If you had one strategy that you could implement to better the craft beer business, what would it be?
HANCOCK: It would have to be inclusively and diversity. At DC Brau, we’re lucky to live in a beautifully diverse city and have people from all different types of backgrounds and ethnicities grace our brewery on a weekly basis. I feel sometimes the craft brewery scene seems like a membership to an exclusive club where if you don’t know what’s up or what the current trend is at the moment then you’re out of luck. The more diverse we are as an industry makes us stronger as a whole, and will help to perpetuate the voice and reach of the industry beyond its current boundaries.

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  1. Pingback: DC Brau, Jameson Caskmates Remain Drinking Buddies

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