by Brian Stechschulte... Dec 11, 2012

Do you know who makes your beer? Odds are probably not, which is a shame. Your local brewers are a diverse cast of characters. Each one holds a different level of experience, discriminating taste, and personal influences that inform what they create and you get to enjoy.

Therefore we’ve decided to start publishing a new series of Meet the Brewer Q & A’s. Each interview will cover a variety of different topics, but expect to find out what goes into some of your favorite beers, how they got started in the industry, and what they have planned for the future, just to name a few things.

Our first Q & A in the series begins with one of Guild’s newest members, Southpaw BBQ. A few months ago they hired Phil Cutti to take the reins of the small brewery.

Where are you from and when did you start brewing?

Don’t hold it against me, but I’m a Bay Area transplant from Orange County, Tustin to be exact. I moved up here in 1992 to go to college and never thought of heading back. I learned the art of brewing from the guys at SF Brewcraft while I was laid up from elbow surgery. I wasn’t able to play baseball for a year while recovering and had some time. College…beer…no money…make beer…brilliant! I’ve been tinkering and learning ever since.

Have you worked for any other breweries?

Over the years I’ve absorbed a lot of knowledge from small batch brewing and asking questions of pro brewers. The conversations have led to some collaborations and interesting projects with a handful of local breweries. I have had the privilege to work with Mill Valley Beerworks and Pacific Brewing Laboratories over the last couple years.

What beer styles do you prefer, if any?

I’m a hophead, but enjoy the challenge of crafting saisons and smoked beers.  I’m also intrigued by gruits.

What do you enjoy about brewing process?

There is great opportunity every time I sit down and try to figure out what to brew next or evaluate what I just brewed. I enjoy the whole process, but turning someone on to a new beer or style because of what I had the opportunity to create is very cool.

What do you plan on brewing over the next few months at Southpaw BBQ?

Out of the gate I went with a robust rye porter. The reason was twofold: first I was aiming for a dark hearty beer with enough of a roasted profile that it paired well with Chef Max Hussey’s menu at Southpaw. Second, the bigger character beer allowed me to learn on the Southpaw brewing system without being concerned with a few resulting flaws from brewing on a new system. I’m happy with the Pisgah Rye Porter and think it will be a great springboard to this adventure. Going forward I would like to compliment Chef Max’s menu as much as possible. House smoked grains will find their way into the mash tun to tweak beers of various styles. SF Beer Week is not too far off and I look forward to collaborating with a few Guild members to produce some special beers.

Are there any special events or projects you would like to work on?

For SF Beer Week I would really like to host a smoked beer event. It’s a style that not too many local breweries dive into and I’m hoping to pique the collective interest of beer aficionados and brewers alike, with flights of smoked beer paired with southern cooking. Another project I’m working on is collaboration with a new local coffee roaster, Wrecking Ball. I am going to teach them about beer, they will teach me about coffee, and in the end we will create a beer. Don’t expect a porter or stout though!