Marzi, Harpoon Brewery Brewmaster
What is your brewing background (training, distinctions/honors)?
How and why did you get into brewing?
I found my way into brewing after graduating from Boston University
with a degree in communications. While I didn't have a background
in brewing beer, after college I felt that my experience in the
consumption of beer would facilitate the transition into production.
It took only a few batches of homebrewing before I was really
bitten by the brewing bug. I wanted to learn all that I could
about beer and brewing. When I found out that there was a job
opening at the Harpoon Brewery, I jumped at the opportunity. The
job happened to be delivering kegs, but just being around the
brewery made it worthwhile. That was almost nine years ago and
I haven't looked back since. I was lucky enough to become involved
with a company that was growing and I was able to move from delivery
to Assistant Brewer, to Head Brewer, to finally VP of Brewing
Operations. Although I have attended the Siebel Institute of Brewing
in Chicago for formal brewing education, most of my training has
come through practical experience. Part of this experience includes
being a judge at tasting competitions. I am particularly proud
of the fact that Harpoon recently took the Gold medal for our
Munich Dark, and the Bronze medal for our UFO (Un-Filtered Offering)
Hefeweizen at the Great Northeast International Brewing Competition.
What might distinguish Harpoon's brewing style/philosophy from
I think there are a number of things that distinguish Harpoon's
philosophy from other brewers. At Harpoon, we brew American style
beers. By this I mean that we may take a style that originated
in Germany or England, but we use American ingredients to brew
our version of that style. We appreciate the origins of a style,
but we are not confined by them. Another aspect of Harpoon's philosophy
is that we treat beer with respect, and encourage our consumers
to do the same. For example, we have specific types of glasses
that go with specific beers. Our Winter Warmer glass is a goblet
which allows the aroma of the beer to be released. The different
designs accentuate each beer either visually or aromatically in
a way that one single style pint glass never could. Finally, Harpoon's
philosophy is to emphasize that beer is a social drink. To this
end, we have four events a year at the brewery which draw over
30,000 people annually. We think it is important to provide an
atmosphere where people can come appreciate our beer and have
a great time as well. It puts a face to the name Harpoon when
people come to our Octoberfest and actually see, feel, and smell
the brewery. While they are eating bratwurst and drinking Octoberfest,
they have an opportunity to meet with the brewers, owners, and
other employees of Harpoon. It all lends itself to our credo:
"Love beer, Love life, Harpoon."
What do you think the most significant trend will be in the coming
years in micro brewing, particularly in light of the fact that
there are now roughly 1,200 micros in the US (vs. less than 30
in the late 80s)?
The most significant trend will be the continued 'up-scaling'
of the beer drinking experience. It has been said many times by
many people, but I believe the comparison of specialty beers with
wine is a good one. About twenty-five years ago, wine drinking
was pretty much limited to a small, well-informed group of consumers.
They were regarded as wine snobs. The affordable, approachable
wine choices were limited and the general public made do with
a handful of national, uninspiring wine brands. Then a transition
started... the public became more educated, Californian wineries
began to be recognized for their excellence, and now a lot of
consumers enjoy a wide range of very interesting choices. The
important thing is that consumers have learned to appreciate things
like wine and food pairings, how wine is made, grape varieties
and cultivation techniques, etc. So experiencing wine has become
much more than simply drinking it. I think this will happen with
beer too. More beer drinkers will discover what micro-beer drinkers
have found over the last decade, namely that beer offers the same
richness and depth that wine does. This means that the outlook
for fresh, high quality, specialty beer is good. Moving in this
direction, for the second consecutive year Harpoon was asked to
participate in the Boston Cooks! 2000 culinary event which draws
renowned chefs and cookbook authors from across the country. Our
beers will be the focus of a culinary roundtable at which cookbook
author and beer connoisseur Peter LaFrance will discuss the unique
experience of cooking and eating with beer.
How do you pair beer with food?
I have a very simple method for matching beer with food. I want
the beer to either blend, balance, or compete with the flavor
of the food. For example, if you were serving a spicy dish, it
could be balanced with a light, refreshing beer. On the other
hand, you could pick a beer with a lot of hop flavor and aroma
which could compete with the spicy dish. Finding beers that blend
with food can be difficult, but sometimes more fun. An example
is matching apple pie with our Winter Warmer. The cinnamon and
nutmeg in our beer blends with the cinnamon in the apple pie,
without being overwhelming.
by Will Blunt.