As longtime readers of Drink Craft Beer know, we've been friends with the team at Mayflower Brewing Co. since the very beginning. Their founding brewer, Matthew Steinberg, was a friend going back to his days at Offshore Ale House, so we made sure to get in to Mayflower as soon as it opened. Hell, I even spent a day there shadowing the brewing team for my Professional Brewer For a Day article. One of the first people we met at Mayflower, aside from Steinberg, was assistant brewer Ryan Gwozdz, who came over from Buzzards Bay Brewing. Matthew has since left, leaving the head brewer position, and Mayflower brewing operations, in the capable hands of Ryan. Since then Mayflower has continued to succeed and put out new and delicious beers. Well we thought it was about time we caught up with Ryan, who has come a long way since that pro brewer for a day article you last saw him in on this site.
We love his beer, so lets talk with the man himself. Also, if you want to say hello, come on down to Drink Craft Beer Fall to Winter Fest 2013 in Boston this November, where Mayflower will be pouring an assortment of their delicious brew!
Drink Craft Beer: How did you get into craft beer?
Ryan Gwozdz: While I was going to college for Environmental Engineering, my sister’s boyfriend would always buy different beers for us to try. This opened my eyes that all beer wasn’t created equally. I was working at Circuit City at the time and despised it. I finally decided that every job I had after that, I would actually enjoy. So I blindly called Buzzards Bay Brewing in Westport, MA one afternoon and left a message saying I was interested in learning about the brewing process. A couple hours later they called me back and told me to come in the next day to bottle with them. I was 19 then and 8 years later it still makes my day smelling the mash every morning.
DCB: What was the turning point (a beer or moment) that made you love craft beer?
RG: Those first few months working at Buzzards. It wasn’t necessarily beer, but more so learning the brewing process, being a sponge and relentlessly asking questions. I owe much of what I know about the industry now to Harry and Nate who took me under their wings and saw brewing potential in me. Thanks guys.
DCB: You walk into a magical beer shop with every beer currently available. You can put together one six-pack. What do you walk out with? Only one beer can be from your brewery.
RG: Cantillon Gueuze, Orval, Schlenkerla Urbock, Mayflower Summer Rye, Allagash Interlude, Half Acre Daisy Cutter. I’m adding a 7th, Molson (reminds me beers with my grandfather!)
DCB: You have one night in your favorite beer city. What city are you in and where do you go (it doesn’t all have to be beer)?
RG: Brussels, Belgium. Hang out at Cantillon. Order ceramic pitchers of beer at A La Becasse. Chug Mayflowers in front of Manneken Pis. Order Westy 12 and laugh at the hype of it. Late night drinking at Moeder Lambic. Drink cans of Jupiler while walking the city. Basically the same trip I took a few years back with some great friends.
DCB: What would you be doing for a career if you weren’t in beer?
RG: Working on an organic farm. My grandfather always had a huge garden that I loved, and I spent years working on my uncle’s orchard. The hardest part of brewing is being inside all day. It’s hard to beat the feeling of working outside. Understanding and seeing food grow the way it should be (small scale and naturally) is something I could see myself doing.
DCB: What do you drink when you’re not drinking craft beer (or beer at all)?
RG: Coffee, bourbon, or chocolate milk. Gin & Tonic is my summer mistress.
DCB: You can brew any beer you like, no matter the cost and consumer demand, what would you make and what dream ingredients would you use?
RG: I would brew a grodziskie. It is an old Polish style that tart and brewed using smoked wheat. It would be 100% Weyermann Oak Smoked Wheat. They are making some of the finest malts available to the industry today. And who else makes oak smoked wheat?!
DCB: Thanks so much for your time, Ryan! Looking forward to seeing Mayflower at Drink Craft Beer Fall to Winter Fest in November!