Beer Alien, being fascinated with all things beer, has begun interviewing professional brewers in order to better understand the humans that make the beer we love so much. Through these interactions we hope to better understand and appreciate the beer you humans create on this planet.
We had the distinct pleasure of talking with Steven Pauwels of Boulevard Brewing.
“My situation is a bit different. I grew up in Belgium and went straight to professional brewing after graduating with a degree in brewing (Biochemical Engineering with an emphasis in fermentation). My homebrew experience is very small. I brewed for the first time on a homebrew system two months ago. – Steven Pauwels
Beer Alien: How long have you been a professional brewer?
24 years, since 1991: 8 years in Belgium and 16 in the US
Beer Alien: What is your favorite part of the job? least favorite part of the job?
Favorite part: the people at Boulevard and in the Craft Beer industry. The Craft Beer industry has the lowest percentage of not-so-nice people of any other industry I know.
Least favorite: I have to work to get free beer
Beer Alien: How has your opinion of brewing beer changed from when you were a home brewer to now being a professional brewer?
The scale of what I work with has increased significant in my 24 years in the brewing industry. I started as the only brewer at a brewpub and am currently working with a team of 13 brewers. Also the market has changed dramatically and you need to follow as a brewer. Little did I know what a Gose was a couple years ago. You constantly have to evolve and do crazy things that you think you would never do. But it is a lot of fun and I’m enjoying it.
Beer Alien: When did you realize you wanted to be a professional brewer and how long after realizing did it take you to become a professional brewer?
When I was 16 and I was working at the brewery where my dad worked. I liked what the brewmaster at that brewery was doing: tasting beer and telling people what to do. Sounded like a good plan to me and I’m still sticking with it.
Beer Alien: Share your most interesting brewing disaster.
It’s not my disaster but it’s a good one. In the early days at Boulevard one of the brewers opened the tri-clamp connecting the bottom valve to a fermentation tank filled with cold beer instead of the tri-clamp for the connection hose. He unlocked the tri-clamp and ice cold beer came blasting out of the tank. He was standing bent over with the valve in his hand, ice cold beer blasting out of the tank between his legs. It was a hilarious sight.
Beer Alien: On your days away from the brewery, what activities do you indulge in?
Family, I’m active in different sports and I like to visit breweries and have a beer with other brewers
Beer Alien: Do you have an experience that stands out above all others during your time as a professional brewer?
The first collaboration we did at Boulevard was with Jean-Marie Rock from Orval. Orval is one of my favorite beers of all time and being able to brew with Jean-Marie Rock was almost like a dream come true. We ended up brewing an Imperial Pilsner when everyone was making very complex barrel-aged beers. We only used brew water, lager yeast, pilsner malt and Saaz hops. The beer was extremely clean and very stable. Most reviews were talking about the Brett character of the beer while we didn’t use any and neither were we able to find any.
Beer Alien: How long did you home brew before you became a professional brewer?
I home brewed once and it all turned sour. I was a specialist in making sour beers before I knew anything about it
Beer Alien: Do you still home brew?
No, I don’t have enough time to try all the new beers that every brewery is coming up with
Beer Alien: What was the first beer you brewed? What do you remember about the experience? (Come on, we all know the first time is an experience)
In college we had to come up with a business plan for a marketing class. My friends and I came up with a plan to launch a beer. I brewed the beer in a 3 bbl system and we ended up with 350 750ml bottles. It sold out in minutes.
Beer Alien: If you could give one piece of advice to new home brewers, what would it be?
Keep you first batches simple. Then start experimenting as much as you can.
Be sure to follow us on Social Media as we invade more breweries and discover more awesome craft beers from all over the world! Cheers humans!