Welcome to an ongoing BREWVANA series, Favorite Brewers’ Favorite Brewers. The project is simple: I ask some of the industry’s most notable brewers to share which brewers they most admire and why.
He was a longtime Rock Bottom brewer with a reputation for quality beers. But things didn’t get Gigantic for Van Havig until May of 2012, when he and fellow Brewmaster Ben Love joined forces to open Portland, Oregon’s Gigantic Brewing Company. What brewer shaped Van?
VAN HAVIG: The guy for me is a brewer by the name of Mark Youngquist. In the mid-1990s, everybody knew who he was, since he started the Walnut Brewery in Boulder, Colorado, which became Rock Bottom a couple of years later. He left Rock Bottom right about 2000, after having previously moved to extreme Southwest Colorado a few years before (that’s right, he worked for a company whose closest location to him took eight hours to reach—he was obviously distancing himself from the increasingly corporate culture). Anyway, Mark was really my first serious brewing mentor, by which I mean that he challenged me to be better than I was, and helped facilitate that through education and encouragement. Pretty much all of the really old RB people site Mark as a major influence, not really in terms of beer flavor or approach, but in terms of the way in which you approach brewing—analytically, intellectually and with common sense and a palate. He’s still brewing. He has a small brewpub in Dolores, Colorado (a town of about 800 people) and as of the last couple of years has been coming out of his self-imposed exile.