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Brooklyn Brewery Brewmaster Garrett Oliver Talks Beer

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Garrett Oliver, Brooklyn Brewery Brewmaster. 

© 2011, The Brooklyn Brewery


Beer and cheese have long been two of America’s favorite things. On October 19, Brooklyn Brewery Brewmaster Garrett Oliver and Aaron Foster of Murray’s Cheese will lead the Museum’s Adventures in the Global Kitchen: Beer and Cheese, an exploration of how carefully crafted pairings can bring out the best in both, complete with tastings of multiple seasonal beers and cheese. Oliver, who recently edited The Oxford Companion to Beer, answered a few questions about the popular beverage.

What made you choose a career in beer?

My degree is in broadcasting and film, and I spent years working for HBO and making independent films. Beer started as a hobby and slowly took over my life. Like filmmaking, it’s a perfect blend of art and science when it’s done right.

You recently edited The Oxford Companion to Beer,which covers over 1,100 individual subjects ranging from the drink’s social history to techniques for making oak-aged beers. What was the most interesting thing you learned?

Among the most surprising was the race to develop the humble bottle cap. Before the modern crown cap, most bottles were closed with the old “pot-stopper” closure, which you still see today on a few brands such as Grolsch. In those days, though, these bottles often leaked. So between 1882 and 1890, the U.S. Patent Office received more than 300 patents for beer bottle closures. And the makers of the winning designs became quite rich. Aside from this, the book talks about the history of women in brewing, traditional brewing in Africa (often using techniques that go back to ancient Egypt), and the development first of the English alehouse and later the modern pub. Both refrigeration and pasteurization were invented for beer. Wherever you have human history and progress, you’ll find beer right in the center of the action.

Does Brooklyn Brewery have any special beers lined up for fall?

We always have new beers coming down the pike. Our current draft-only Brewmaster’s Reserve release is called The Companion, named after The Oxford Companion to Beer. It’s a wheat wine, an old form of strong ale made from more than 50 percent wheat as opposed to barley. It’s very rich and flavorful, but wheat produces a lighter-bodied beer than barley does, so it has some delicate qualities despite having a strength of 9 percent.

If you had to choose one beer-cheese pairing for a chilly fall night, what would it be?

It’s pretty hard to beat a rich chocolaty imperial stout. I’d pick Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout, with Stilton cheese. Now I’m hungry!

Tags: Food

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