Head Brewer at Six Row Brewing Co.
(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.)
Evan Hiatt, 28
St. Louis, MO
All About Beer: Tell us about your brewery.
Evan Hiatt: We are a small craft brewery producing, small-batch, hand-crafted ales and lagers. We are currently distributing to seven distributors between Missouri and Illinois and also have an on-site pub and restaurant. We have been open since Dec. 5, 2009.
How did you first get into brewing?
I started brewing when I was 21, at least legally, at home. But at the time I thought my career path would lead me into enology and viticulture; I wanted to some day start my own winery. As things progressed, I soon found that brewing came easier to me and that the brewing culture was something I wanted to be a part of. Nothing against the wine industry, there are plenty of great people, I just found the brewing culture more my speed. After college, for a couple years, I went on to manage at a small winery in the village of Commerce, MO, called River Ridge, where I learned a great deal about the beverage/restaurant/small business industry. After my wife completed her Master’s degree, we moved to St. Louis while myself and five other partners started to put this whole Six Row idea together. I then completed the Seibel Institute Concise Course in Brewing Technology while building the brewery and then we opened the doors in December of 2009.
What was the first beer you ever brewed and where did you do it?
The first beer I ever brewed was an extract kit stout in my college apartment. Looking back it was awful but at the time it was awesome! It was black and carbonated, which at the time seemed like a proper stout to me.
What’s your favorite beer style?
My favorite beer style is a tough one. Overall it would have to be porter, a nice session dark ale.
Do you have a mentor in the brewing world?
Funny thing, one person I have to thank for a great deal of wisdom would be someone I just met this summer: Rick Davidson of Davidson Brothers Brewing in Glens Falls, NY. I met Rick while my wife and I were on vacation in New York this summer. That guy is full of knowledge and is kind enough to share it. I have been keeping in contact with him ever since. Another person I have to give credit to is Mike Mills of Buckner Brewing Co. in Cape Girardeau, MO. Mike was a tremendous help when we first started getting the brewery together and was nice enough to let me help, more like watch, with his brew days.
What inspires you when you’re brewing?
I get my inspiration from learning everything I can about beer styles and their history. I’m a history junkie so I love researching the origins of a style and how I can best make that style and make it my own. I brewed a pre-Prohibition style pilsner in celebration of director Ken Burns coming to St. Louis to promote his documentary Prohibition on PBS. Not only are we named after the main malt in the beer, we have tons of brewing history in our building and I had just finished reading Daniel Okrent’s Last Call, the book the series was based on, when I learned he was making the documentary.
What do you attribute to your success?
I have to thank my support group: my wife, family, and friends. They have always been there for me to support my dreams. Plus I consider myself a perfectionist, as my wife jokingly refers to my OCD, I always want to do the best I can at something. That has certainly helped me in the professional world.
What do you think drives the popularity of craft beer?
Knowledge and change. People are always looking for something new and exciting. We live in a crazy world and if you can find something that keeps you thinking and makes you happy, even for a moment, then you will want more. Plus we still have the underdog status as craft brewers and studies always show that people root for the underdog!
In general, how do you think the next generation of brewers will shake up the craft beer world?
Brewing has been around for how long? Somehow, people are able to create something entirely new with the same four, not to mention more, ingredients. I think we will continue to see new styles pop up based on what we have available at the time, technology, technique, and ingredient. You know, history.
In particular, how will you contribute to that shake up?
I hope to show people exactly how a quality beer is made. Whether it’s something as wacky as our Bacon Porter or as classic as our Kölsch, it has to exude excellence and quality, otherwise it will wash away.
Last one: Cascadian dark ale or black IPA?
Black IPA, all the way! Actually, it’s our fall seasonal.
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