Ontario Craft Brewer Spotlight Series
Real People. Real Craft Beer.
Meet the real people behind the real beer
Interview #4 Jon Graham, Sales, Muskoka Brewery
Your preferred beer style to brew? To drink?
What is your idea of the perfect pint (include details of location, people, scenario)?
I love a pint, with friends around a bonfire.
What do you find the most challenging or difficult part of the brewing process?
I’m not a professional brewer by any means, but personally I’d say the most challenging part is choosing your ingredients. Keeping up with the new hops, knowing which malts would compliment the beer you are trying to brew, even picking the right yeast. It all matters so much!!! Luckily I have a great group of Brewer friends who are more then willing to share their wealth of knowledge. I know guys like Gary (Muskoka), Lackey (Great Lakes) and Ian (Amsterdam), all keep up on a daily basis with the different flavour profiles of new hops, or the new yeast strains that will really dry out that finish on a Saison you want. If I ever have questions they are always just a quick phone call away. Plenty of others are also so generous with their knowledge and time. We truly do have a great ” brotherhood” in Ontario.
Which beer industry person do you most admire?
This is a tough one! I’d say Gary McMullen anyone who can fight for 20 years for Craft beer and still be as excited as he is, I definitely admire. Also Mike Lackey for how much experimenting he does, he is patient and really plays around with different ideas and ingredients but this is a trait of a lot of good brewers ( Indie, Bellwoods, Amsterdam)
What is your wildest/most extravagant beer ingredient?
Well I have been able to brew with some fun stuff, cinnamon, chocolate, coffee. The one that I’m most excited to brew with is Guava. We are doing a great collaboration brew with the guys at Trou du Diable for our 20th Anniversary. It’s going to be a Guava Saison, using fresh Guava and Trouble du Diable house Saison yeast. I can’t wait!!!
What is your proudest beer moment?
I have two. One was brewing a great Cinnamon Doppelbock with my wife Tia Graham for our 10th anniversary. Gary at Muskoka was nice enough to let us do this at the Brewery on the pilot system, and it turned out totally the way I wanted it and is ageing nicely.
And the second was brewing a Breakfast Stout I think for the 3rd or 4th Volo Cask fest with John Bowden formerly of Great Lakes. I was working for another brewery at the time, who since I wasn’t a professional Brewer didn’t want to put their name on the beer. So It was Jon Graham and John Bowden from Great Lakes on the cask. Well what would you know the beer seemed to be pretty well liked. We actually ended up getting voted second best cask of the fest!! It was nice to see that a couple of sales guys knew what we were doing! We should have called it the “Secret Salesmans Special Stout”.
What is the most disastrous brew you ever produced?
Luckily for me, usually when I brew I’m with some pretty talented guys. One time though at Swansea home brew (Lackeys driveway) we got enjoying some crazy beers, a little more then we were paying attention to the brew. Well we burnt the mash a touch. So we ended up with a “unintentionally smoked” doppelbock. It still tasted pretty good.
Favourite pastime when you are NOT craft brewing?
Craft beard? Piercings?Tattoos?Any other body markings that tell a story of craft brewing?
Well I have some pretty good side burns that I’m known for… Also I’d say my belly shows that I have definitely sampled my fair share of great craft beer over the last 10 years in the business. Hopefully with a little more swimming and cycling this summer that won’t be quite as apparent. Ha!.
If you could have a beer with anyone alive or dead, who would it be?
Brewing – Vinnie Cilurzo from Russain River Brewing Company. His beers are just so creative and perfect. I’d love to pick his brain over a few pints.
Regular – Charles Bukowski he was an amazing poet who saw the world from his own point of view (bar stool ) He also definitely was not against putting back a few drinks, no matter what the time of day.