Joe Casey / Sr. Director, Brewing/BREWMASTER
HOW DID YOU GET INTO BREWING: It was the study of Biology in college that sparked Joe’s interest in fermentation science and brewing. With a background in science, Joe landed a job at Widmer Brothers cleaning kegs and fermenters, driving forklifts and making root beer. Within months, Joe traded in those duties to run the weekend graveyard shift in the brewhouse. Finishing school during the day and brewing by night, Joe began to cement his status as the “techie-geek” of the brewing group. A title he is proud of to this day. “Brewing is a really great industry,” says Joe, “because it allows someone to be a really technical scientist, but also allows for someone to be a complete artist. It’s a good mixture of the two.”
YOUR MOST MEMORABLE BREW: “Well, our O’Casey’s Irish Stout is my baby. We brew just one batch a year for St. Paddy’s. We pour it till it’s gone, and then move on.” But definitely one of the most memorable says Joe, was the Prickly Pear Braggot. It saw brewers emptying 55 gallon drums of honey into the kettle and coating themselves and the brewhouse in the process. “In retrospect it was fun to make. It was a messy, messy day, but at the end of it, the sweat and tears that went into brewing it made it really satisfying.”
WHAT HAS YOU EXCITED FOR THE FUTURE OF BREWING: “In terms of innovation, the beer sensory pendulum swings, and I think it has swung pretty far to one side and may be about to swing back. I’m excited to see how that plays out,” says Joe. “Right now there is a lot of emphasis on brewing very large, bitter, high alcohol beers. There’s nothing wrong with that, but the pendulum may be starting to swing back to beer that is just more clean, simple drinkable beer.”
IN YOUR FRIDGE: Joe’s beer fridge contains a wide variety of libations. Vintage Widmer Brothers bottles he has laid down for aging: W’11 KGB, Dopplebock, Braggot. Omission Lager and Omission Pale Ale for his celiac wife. And next to some bottles of barleywine Joe says you’ll of course see, Chelada.
FAVORITE BREWING STORY: “When I got married in 2002, we had 1997 vintage Killer Bee Mead hand bottled in a special 11 oz. wine-shaped bottle to give out as gifts to our guests. The bottle was screen printed with a story about how I originally proposed to my wife over goblets of Killer Bee. I was so interested in having a cool unique bottle, that I overlooked the bottles lacked a finish for the crimp. Within a day of getting ready to bottle 250 meads for all our guests, I realized we didn't have any way to crown the bottle. So I quickly found a corking machine to rent and corked them all. We did have some that popped the corks because there was a little carbonation in there. Some of that happened in people’s luggage or their cars while they were one the way home. But everyone took it in good stride. I still have a case tucked away.”