Brewer Magazine Q&A: Nate Swan, Rahr & Sons Brewing

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.

Nate Swan, Head Brewer, Rahr & Sons Brewing — Fort Worth, Texas

BREWER: What is a lesson learned within your position that sticks with you to this day?
SWAN: No matter what the industry, to be successful you must build the right team of individuals, appreciate their differences, and align everyone behind the company’s common vision. Ours is quality and we are fortunate to have the right group of people.

BREWER: Who is your mentor in the industry and why? What have you learned from them?
SWAN: My mentor is actually someone who encouraged me as I decided to get into the brewing industry, and he was instrumental in building my confidence, my ability to understand and relate to others, and willingness to accept new challenges with open arms, without fear of the outcome. He is a dear friend, a pillar in my life, and a large reason that I’ve been lucky to enjoy success in my brewing career. Miss you Jordy!

BREWER: What have you added to your brewery lately that’s unique or making your business more successful?
SWAN: A piece of equipment called the HopGun. It was the foundation of our production process for our Dadgum IPA, but it’s extremely versatile and allows us to infuse much more than hops. We have used it for many different ingredients, including those that go into Paleta De Mango and Adios Pantalones. The HopGun allows us to add ingredients to beer that’s in fermentation, without have to transfer the beer to another tank, thus saving on tank space. Plus, it looks pretty cool!

BREWER: In today’s business climate for craft beer, how will your brewery grow?
SWAN: Continue to reach out into new markets with unique, exciting, and easily drinkable brands, as well as some long standing, classic German beer styles that our brewery is know for. We want to produce brands that are accessible to any and all demographics in the craft beer drinking community, and ensure they are of the highest quality possible. Our company was one of the first craft breweries to emerge in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, and we plan to remain a staple in our home market, as well as eventually adding a new taproom in our home town of Fort Worth, where we can serve our local community and it’s visitors with classic brands and rare and limited offerings, only to be found there.

BREWER: What sort of innovations in craft beer excite you?
SWAN: There are some really neat things happening in the world of brewing sciences and the lab work necessary to the industry. We are learning more about how to produce our beer more consistently with cutting edge instrumentation and equipment that helps us better manage our yeast health, and thus the quality and flavor of our beer. I’m excited about where our growing lab and sensory programs will take us in the next few years.

BREWER: If you had one strategy that you could implement to better the craft beer business, what would it be?
SWAN: Act like a big brewery, even while you’re a little one, if you want to grow. Have experience in the industry BEFORE you design a new facility and surround yourself with knowledgeable, handy people who are willing to take on ANY task!

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