Brewer Magazine Q&A: Kelly Montgomery, Brink Brewing

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

Kelly Montgomery, Head Brewer/co-owner, Brink Brewing — Cincinnati


BREWER: How do you feel your job has had to adapt in the beer market compared to a few years ago?

MONTGOMERY: We definitely have to brew a wide variety of styles. As quickly as new trends come up we have to be nimble and learn quickly. We are constantly having to come up with fresh ideas, while tailoring to our market.

BREWER: Who is your mentor in the industry and why? What have you learned from them?
MONTGOMERY: My biggest mentor was my Uncle Jack. Even though he wasn’t truly in the industry, he was an early adopter of craft beer. He was cellaring Big Foot Barley Wine before it was a thing and always had a refrigerator full of beers from his travels abroad. His early influence gave me an appreciation for classic styles and techniques. Travels should always involve scouting out the local beer and culture. He also taught me the importance of sharing a bottle with friends and family and talking about the beer and swapping stories.

BREWER: Can you share a success story that you are proud of in your job or maybe a story of how you learned from a situation that has altered your thoughts on how you do your job now?
MONTGOMERY: Standing on the stage for a medal at the World Beer Cup this past spring, and then receiving Very Small Brewery of the Year this fall at GABF were by far my proudest moments. Winning medals for classic beers styles such as our English Mild and Milk Stout has put us on the map for reviving an appreciation for some less trendy styles. We love that we have people excited to order an English Mild. We’ve committed to always have some of the classic styles available in our tap room.

BREWER: Can you touch on something your brewery has added lately that’s unique or making your business more successful (it could be equipment, technology or people)?
MONTGOMERY: We wanted to get into the sour game, but had concerns with bacteria contamination on our 7-barrel system. Just this year we partnered with a lab to work with a new Saccharomyces strain that makes lactic acid called YH72 and have started with a Berliner Weisse and a Gose. So far, we’ve been really pleased with the results.

BREWER: If you had one business strategy that you could implement to better the brewing industry, what would it be?
MONTGOMERY: A focus on quality and making beers properly to style versus chasing trends. I think sometimes breweries feel pressure to deliver the trendy new style without having dialed in or mastered that style. The industry jokes about over fruiting to mask flaws, and it’s no joke. You’d be better to not offer a style than to put one out that isn’t well made.

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