So, what made you want to become a brew master?
A question I get a lot... My answer, I love beer! I have loved beer since my dad used to pour me a little taste of his Budweiser in my milk glass. I liked the feel of it on my tongue the carbonation the mouth feel. Not much aroma though back then. I probably wouldn't have noticed it anyway through the constant cloud of smoke that I had to endure from his chain smoking of Belairs. I used to gag and make choking noises which was followed by "What are you a comedian mister?" Yeah I guess I am. You've got to have a thick skin and good sense of humor to make it in this racket.
I tasted my first home brewed beer in 1983.
It had been brewed by a friend, and while awful, it got me really excited at the thought of actually brewing my own beer. The typical can of malt extract sugar and crappy dried yeast that came with the kit. In those days the malt extract came with instructions and a packet of dried yeast. The procedure usually consisted of boiling some water, adding the extract and 2 lbs of sugar; mixing it with cold water at the end of the boil.
Pitch the dried yeast and wait for it to go bad. After witnessing this "brewing process" I wasn't at all inspired to attempt it.
Left to Right: Matthias Hofstadler, Mike Lisignoli, Carlos Sanchez, Troy Furlow, and Adrian Vasquez
Fresh Citra hops, right off the vine!
I received my first home brew kit
as a gift a few years later, and I made the first batch with all malt extract, no sugar, and added hops. The yeast was of the typical quality of the time and I pitched it with two packets instead of one. I anxiously awaited the first signs of fermentation hardly slept at all that night. The brew was passable enough, not infected but not particularly good or bad. I started buying books on brewing and building my own all grain system and soon I was brewing 1/2 barrel batches and kegging and all that. The rest as they say is history.
In 1990, I got my first brewing job at the now defunct Humboldt Brewery.
I was thrilled to be brewing for a living. At the time brewing jobs were scarce to say the least. I was hired as an assistant brewer at the handsome wage of five dollars an hour. I brewed Red Nectar on the 7 bbl. Ripley Stainless system that used to reside behind the bar in the original location. I also was hired at Mad River Brewing Co. Two weeks after I started at Humboldt. I worked at both jobs for a year. Three days a week at Humboldt and four days at Mad River. I used to drive around selling Mad River beer during the week and stop in at Humboldt Brewery to check my gravities when I was in Arcata. Well, things changed and soon I was only working at Humboldt.
I was able to attend Seibel Institute of Brewing Science in Chicago in 1992.
I took courses in Brewing microbiology and microscopy. I kept brewing at Humboldt for 4 more years with my good friend and mentor Steve Parkes who now owns the American Brewers Guild in Vermont. We had a lot of great times in those days, and all the while I was still learning and honing my skills. Red Nectar got big in 1992 with a new 50 bbl. brewhouse where Steve and I brewed for 4 years. We went over 20,000 bbls there in 1993, an impressive total for the time.
However, in 1996 it was time for me to move on.
I wanted to be the head brewer for a brewpub. I got my break when Six Rivers Brewing Co. opened that year. I was able to secure the original Humboldt Brewery 7bbl. system which was sold in 1992 and lay dormant in a Reno warehouse, and convinced the owners to hire me since i was quite familiar with the equipment. Well, from there to now over 18 years and one transfer of ownership later... Here I am still brewing beer for a living.
How did I get so lucky?
This year will be my 25th year in the business...
So I guess I still love Beer!
Follow Carlos on Instagram @losinator or on Twitter @carloslosinator
A glass of Los' holiday favorite: Jacob Marley's Winter Porter.