Bryan Selders Deserves Your Attention
If you like Dogfish beers or enjoyed the show Brewmasters on The Discovery Channel, you're probably familiar with Bryan Selders. A brewer, foodie, hip-hop artist, and graphic designer, he has impressed the Beer Brave crew for a while now. We had the chance to corral some of his thoughts as he travels across country to initiate his new venture, a brewing project for the Big Red F Restaurant Group and their Post Brewing Company in Colorado.
Okay, Homie: We know you, but some might not. Give us the rundown. Who is Selders? Your background, qualifications, favorite dance move, etc.
I started homebrewing in 1995 and quickly became obsessed brewing two to three 5 gallon batches per week. I'd typically focus on one beer style until I really felt it was right. I started an apprenticeship at Philadelphia's Red Bell Brewing Company in 1999 and got hired as the assistant brewer at the now defunct Neversink Brewing Company in Reading, PA. Following that, I was hired at the Nodding Head Brewpub in Philadelphia to work with my great friend and mentor, Brandon Greenwood, who is now VP of Brewing Operations at Lagunitas Brewing Company. After about a year with Nodding Head, on Super Bowl Sunday of 2002, Sam Calagione called me at home from his delivery van while he was sitting in traffic on the George Washington Bridge on his way up to Massachusetts. He offered me the position of lead brewer at the original Nassau Commons production facility of Dogfish Head.
I worked at Dogfish for a little over nine years, contributing to the growth of the company in an ever-expanding role which included brand development, research and development, raw material selection and procurement, production scheduling and management, staff management and development, process development and improvement. I learned a lot about running a brewery and developing a company culture. I had the opportunity to work with a great team who was focused on making great beers. We achieved a lot of really great things and I'm very proud of what we were able to accomplish.
While working at Dogfish, I became interested in working in graphic design so I started to expand on my BFA to earn credentials to make this transition. I really loved being the old guy in all of my classes and at my web design job at Inclind. That was a fun two year sabbatical from brewing which really helped recharge my passion for making beer and helped me refocus on what was important to me in the brewing industry. Working at Inclind, I was able to work with some interesting people and I learned a lot about thinking differently about problems and creatively overcoming challenges. Sitting at a desk was pretty hard for me, however.
Anyway, I started looking at opportunities to return to brewing and finally found a really amazing fit with the Post Brewing Company and Big Red F Restaurant Group. I'll be able to contribute to the success of the company utilizing a broad range of skills both in brewing and design. We're creating a brand from the ground up and that's really unique and exciting.
Aside from that I am an awesome father and husband. I like to play guitar on a level that hovers around average. I like to shred it up with the youngsters at the skatepark and I can run faster than Shaun Tyndall but not as fast as Clint Beastwood. I also like to cook and eat which is why I run so I can avoid getting chubbier. Also, did you know that the moonwalk is done in a forward or circular direction and the backwards one is really called the glide? I prefer the moonwalk because it looks more impressive on TV.
What beer is Bryan’s fridge right now? What is Selders sippin’?
Whatever I can get at the local liquor stores as I make my way across the country with my wife, kids and the dog. Tonight I'm having some local suburban Chicago beers from Two Brothers Brewing. The hefeweiss from this brewery is really quite good.
(Let me clarify. Whatever LOCAL [beer] I can get at local liquor stores.)
Any advice for the homebrewers among us? How to start generating original recipes?
Don't take it too seriously. I mean, surely, get as geeked out as possible and care about what you are doing and strive to make really good beer. But at the end of the day, beer is meant to be fun. Drinking it is fun and it makes you feel awesome. Making it should be fun and should make you feel awesome. Seriously, you can taste stress. You can taste a brewer's attitude. Just like anything, attitude expresses itself in your work. Just whatever you do, enjoy the process because it's very rewarding.
Recipe development is not rocket science. Start by mastering the basics. Learn about what your ingredients are going to do. Taste each and every one of them. If you are not willing to put it in your mouth, you really shouldn't put it in your beer. Keep it simple. You can achieve a lot with a little. If you are creating recipes, you are ready to learn the math behind it as it will give you a better understanding of what is going on with your ingredients. There are many resources available online that can get you started.
Can you give us laypeople your favorite tips for pairing beers with food?
It's pretty simple, really. You know how different beers taste and feel. You know the same about food. Using that knowledge, think about what combinations will be complementary to one another. You want to avoid having the beer flavor overwhelm the flavor of the food and vice versa. Like everything that works well, you need to find balance in the experience.
Who is Big Red F? What is your new gig there?
So the Big Red F is a restaurant group based in Boulder, CO founded by chef Dave Query. It operates a number of really great restaurants in Boulder, Denver and Fort Collins that range from killer southwestern fare at Zolo Grill to amazing seafood at Jax. It focuses strongly on great service and consistent quality.
They started working on a brewpub concept last year and got to the point of requesting quotes from equipment manufacturers when they learned that they needed to hire a brewmaster to make decisions and take ownership of building the brewery. I answered their classified ad on probrewer.com hours after they posted it and two weeks later I accepted their offer.
I am the brewmaster/partner in the Post Brewing Company which means I will be taking the project from concept to product and will perform the majority of the daily operations. I'll be responsible for product and brand development which means I'll have the opportunity to use a broad range of my skills for the company both in beer making and design. It's really a unique opportunity and I'm super excited to get it up and running. Just a few months to go!
We can't wait! What is the goal of the new brewpub’s beers? Plan to do anything fun or head in a particular direction?
We are going to make fun beers that compliment the menu at the Post as well as be at home at the other restaurants in the group. I will focus on making beers that are interesting and engaging to enhance the drinker's overall experience. We plan to offer four core beers with a rotating cast of one offs and seasonals. Keeping the beer offerings limited to six to eight will allow us to focus on making those beers really well and will help ensure consistency. We want to avoid overwhelming our guests with too many choices. To offer a small but diverse selection of well crafted beers will keep people coming back for a great experience.
You probably won't see our beers in stores for a few years. I'd like for us to perfect our skills for a bit and build a good reputation for great flavor and quality prior to sending the beers out to an environment that is largely out of our control. We'll have offsite draft accounts initially and then we will can a few of our beers. Until such time, you'll just have to come visit us in Colorado. Frontier flights to Denver are cheap out of New Castle.
We will definitely have to visit. When it comes to brewing, what’s more important: perfection or creation?
Good answer. On a related note: Would you expand to a brewery or are you happier with smaller, one-off batches from a brewpub? What kind of volume will your crew be pushing out, initially?
So like I said, we will be focusing on maintaining a lineup of four core beers and a few seasonals and one-offs. I've built this brewery with the mindset of a brewer that has a lot of experience in a production brewery that likes to experiment. The brewery will be flexible enough to allow us to make a wide range of flavors but will have the right systems in place to allow us to deliver our core beers in a consistent manner. We are installing a 15 barrel brewhouse with an initial capacity of 1650 barrels per year and we have space in the brewery to double that. With our projected production goals, we will be able to grow into the 1650 barrels over the next two and a half years before adding capacity.
Cheers to growth! What will your pub’s menu look like?
The Post will be located in an old VFW post which operated in the community of Lafayette, CO for 65 years. We intend to maintain the legacy of the building and live up to it's history as a community gathering place. We have a huge outdoor space which will have lawn games and all sorts of fun business going on. It's going to be a really fun place to go.
The menu, as our chef/partner puts it is "Colorado Comfort Food". The concept is chicken and beer with a focus on fried and rotisseried birds along with many seasonal side dishes. We'll serve mac and cheese, fresh biscuits, collard greens, waffles, many ways with the potato and tons of fresh local vegetables.
All I can say is that I want to eat here soon!
So do we! We'll have to find a way to make it out there, ASAP. Thanks for chatting, Bryan. Keep in touch!
If anyone in the Beer Brave nation get a chance to try the new brews when they come out, let us know how they are!