Owner and Brewer at Lavery 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.)
Jason Lavery, 30
Owner and Brewer
All About Beer: Tell us about your brewery.
Jason Lavery: My wife and I started this brewery as an alternating proprietorship in August 2009 at a rewpub here in Erie called the Brewerie. We produced about 400 gallons per month and moved into our own space in March 2011. We brought on board a business partner and bought a 10-barrel brewhouse. We began production at the current location in September 2011. We sell beer all through Pennsylvania including Philadelphia. … We brew nine beers, most of which are seasonal.
How did you first get into brewing?
My brother-in-law taught me how to homebrew in 2005. I became incredibly passionate about it almost from the beginning. I only did six extract batches before switching to all grain. I was brewing at least once a month for the first few months and then began brewing every weekend for a few years before I started apprenticing at our local brewpub, the Brewerie.
What was the first beer you ever brewed and where did you do it?
First homebrew was a British bitter in my kitchen. First commercial beer was Belfast Black Smoked Porter at the Brewerie.
What’s your favorite beer style?
Orval is my favorite beer, but I would have to say super fresh and hoppy IPAs. Or really well-made Pilsners. I could keep going on.
Do you have a mentor in the brewing world?
Not so much. I have a business mentor in Chris Sirianni, the owner of the Brewerie. A few local brewers have helped us out tons including Matt Allyn (Voodoo) and Jake Kristophel (Full Pint).
What inspires you when you’re brewing?
The pursuit of perfection. We’ve never been the kind of brewery to call a beer perfect. We are always trying to improve, whether it’s a recipe, brewing process, packaging process, label design, whatever. I get excited thinking about new beers and ways to improve our current beers.
What do you attribute to your success?
Personal motivation and support of friends and family. We announced to my family that we were going to start a brewery in April 2008 [when I was] 26. By this time, my wife and I had already earned our Master’s degrees, in addition to having three young children, so my family was use to our big dreams. We have put everything into this brewery and believe in it with all my heart. I think that shows through to the final product—our passion and aspirations.
What do you think drives the popularity of craft beer?
Personalities of the individual breweries, as well as the quality of the products out there. Beers are getting better and more cool people keep entering the industry.
In general, how do you think the next generation of brewers will shake up the craft beer world?
I keep hoping for more niche brewers, brewers who focus on sours, or lagers or whatever, but that doesn’t seem to be happening. I guess it’s not fair to ask new guys to focus on one style while those of us doing this a few years bounce all across the board. With the hops shortages, I can’t imagine the next generation staking their claims on super IPAs and outdoing the previous guy. What I’m trying to say is I have no idea what to expect, but I’m looking forward to it.
In particular, how will you contribute to that shake up?
We are mentoring a few start-ups right now and take calls and emails from breweries around the country that want to be alternating proprietorship like we were. I will always give advice and help people avoid the mistakes we made.
Last one: Cascadian dark ale or black IPA?
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