Bewitching Brawns of Brewer's Beards - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

Bewitching Brawns of Brewer’s Beards

Green Lantern has his lantern, Batman has his utility belt, and the professional brewer has his beard. It’s unclear what powers actually come from the beard. In some it may give the ability to handle wild yeast where smooth skinned brewers may run in fear.  In others it may give the ability to create great beers with any ingredient they wish.

Greg Koch showing a great before and after for Movember

Greg Koch showing a great before and after for Movember

Each beard gives its brewer unique powers. It is also unclear where these powers come from – it may come from the fact that you can’t say beard without saying beer. It may come from some deep seeded genetic trait that has the power to grow the brewers’ beard. This power may even make actual growth unneeded. The powers could come from a freak accident or it may come from an interaction with a meteorite as a child.

Not all great brewers have beards. Even after extensive searching I have been unable to find a picture of Dogfish Head’s Sam Calagione or Sam Adam’s Jim Koch with a beard. But Ken Grossman of Sierra Nevada has sported for as long as I can remember, as has Charlie Papazian the father of modern homebrewing. Then there’s Greg Koch of Stone who grew a fantastic beard only to shave it off this November to raise money for cancer research.

One big problem with this beard theory is for the first few thousand years of brewing professional brewers were women. This dates back to Ninkasi, the ancient Sumerian goddess of beer in about 2000 B.C. While I have seen a few women that are certainly on their way to growing a beard, it is rare, and certainly the goddess of beer was not bearded.

King Gambrinus

King Gambrinus

Alternatively Gambrinus, a legendary king of Flanders, and an unofficial patron saint of beer IS most certainly bearded. Gaius Plinius Secundus, or Pliny the Elder as most know him was the Roman naturalist credited with the discovery of hops. He was also bearded. However, John the Fearless, Duke of Burgundy, the brewer credited with first making a hopped malt beer, and the founder of the Order of the Hop, was most certainly NOT bearded.

So what am I proving here?

Seems like nothing, right?

This is all a big question I guess. Are there mystical powers contained in the genetic code of the bearded ones? Is it a super power? Who knows? Like any good story about a super power, it’s a mystery.

The love of the Beard in brewing has not gone unnoticed. There are more than a few breweries that have proclaimed their beardiness with their brewery names. In Michigan there is Beards Brewery, Frothy Beard Brewing in South Carolina, Baldy Beard Brewing Company in York, PA, 3 Beards Beer Company in Massachusetts, Virginia’s Redbeard Brewing Co, Weird Beard Brew Co. across the pond in London, and finally Beer’d Brewing from Connecticut. I could probably find more if I continued my research.

Eric Brooks is a Super Hero

Brewer Eric Brooks is a Super Hero

Of course I couldn’t forget the instant legend of Rogue’s Beard Beer. This impressive wild ale was made with yeast harvested from the 20 year old beard from their brewmaster’s chin. This seems to gross out a lot of people, and I really don’t know why. It’s all done in a clean sterile environment, and then propagated to further feed on the sugars of a freshly brewed wort. This beer tastes like a Belgian Golden Ale or Tripel made with a Wild Yeast. It’s really quite good. Quite unbelievable that the yeast strain was harvested from a beard.

Even the Brewers Association knows there is something about beards. The recently had a contest of the best beards on their website You can gleam a look at these bearded brewers on Facebook or take a look at the winners on’s website.

ovi8As I mentioned in my GABF post-mortem I met some great people in Denver. I also saw a lot of great beards, none greater that Eric Brooks of Black Bottle Brewery. This in my opinion should have been the winner of CraftBeer’s competition. But they may have not known about his greatness at that time. However, his beard didn’t go unnoticed by Alex Ovechkin, who apparently loved Eric’s homage to him with an 8- styled into his beard.

So while I have asked more questions than I have answered, I do know that while it is a mystery whether or not super powers come from a brewer’s beard. I can tell you that these guys are super heroes. Turning water into beer is a super power that has changed the world.

About the author

John Thompson

John Thompson is a beer enthusiast who began evangelizing craft beer a few years ago on his blog John has been homebrewing sporadically for almost 20 years, and also is a Cicerone Certified Beer Server. When not enjoying a cold malty beverage you will find John spending time with his spouse and two young children or working his day job in Financial Services Technology. Make sure to find John on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter @TheHopLocal and Untapped. at : Contact the author.

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