Founder and Head Brewer at Epic Ales
(Editor’s Note: This is part of a series in which we scoured the country to find 30 innovative brewers and beer professionals under 30 years old, each of whom hopes to further the scope and breadth of the American craft beer scene.)
Cody Morris, 30
Founder and Head Brewer
All About Beer: Tell us about your brewery.
Cody Morris: It’s a 3-barrel brewhouse, with an extra 1-barrel kettle for doing second runnings or first runnings. We produce farmhouse ales and various styles of sours. The focus is always on unique pairings and a rustic edge.
How did you first get into brewing?
I always enjoyed beer. Even as a child I would walk down to the old Redhook brewery with my dad and would get to try their beers. I really got into brewing while in college when I was 21. Once I finished school, I had a [bachelor of arts degree] in philosophy and decided to pursue a career in brewing. I ended up working at a homebrew shop for several years before moving into the wine industry, which oddly enough brought me back to beer.
What was the first beer you ever brewed and where did you do it?
The first was a very homebrewy English bitter, which I think nearly 90 percent [of people] make their first time.
What’s your favorite beer style?
I have three favorites depending on the weather and what I’m eating. I love saisons, pilsners and sours of all stripes.
Do you have a mentor in the brewing world?
The brewers of Washington are always very open. I love just going to visit and ask questions. Every time I visit a brewery, a new idea comes to me.
What inspires you when you’re brewing?
Ultimately, I want to make each bottle of beer a unique moment. My approach to craft is highly influenced by John Cage, Antonin Artaud and Walter Benjamin. To get to the brewery I go through Seattle’s International District, I love going to the open markets in the morning to get veggies for my lunch. The smells, sights and overall exoticness of the markets inspire me.
What do you attribute to your success?
The current state of craft beer drinkers. Americans have decided to embrace a playful attitude towards their palates. I personally think craft beer fans are quickly becoming more adventurous than the famed foodies that seem to have taken over the internet. I feel really fortunate. I get to explore the boundaries of beer and there’s enough people willing to do so with me.
What do you think drives the popularity of craft beer?
The gap in flavor intensity between macro beer and craft beer drives a huge part of it. People like beer, if it’s good tasting then they really like it. The increasing number of breweries in the U.S. means everyone can find a beer they like.
In general, how do you think the next generation of brewers will shake up the craft beer world?
I think we’ll see season beers making a comeback. Sours will also have a good decade of popularity. Beer is oddly limited and infinite in possibilities. I do think we’ll see more and more brewpubs with tiny brewhouses providing the very freshest in season ales. I hope people fall in love with grassy pilsners. I’d like to have more of those on the domestic market.
In particular, how will you contribute to that shake up?
The brewpub we’re opening is quite a different concept. The Gastropod (our brewpub) will have 10 rotating taps with 10 different small plates on the menu that reflect what’s in season, but more importantly, that will pair with what we have on tap. We want people to always expect a small bite to go with their pint. We’ll also continue to push our beers into stranger realms of flavor profiles.
Last one: Cascadian dark ale or black IPA?
Cascadian dark ale. Black IPA is as silly sounding as hoppy stout.
In honor of our 30 Under 30 list, we’re giving away free issues of All About Beer Magazine. Learn how to get your free issue.