Co-founder and Brewmaster at Seventh Sun Brewing
(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.)
Justin Stange, 29
Co-founder and Head Brewmaster
All About Beer: Tell us about your brewery.
Justin Stange: The Seventh Sun is a new era craft brewery. We brew a variety of IPAs, Belgian-influenced beers—some using mixed fermentation—and, most recently, culinary influenced beers. Our wood cellar is quickly becoming the brewery’s pride and joy. We do some spirit barrel aging and several blends of sour beers.
How did you first get into brewing?
I started by volunteering at McGuire’s Irish Pub in Destin, FL, when I was 22.
What was the first beer you ever brewed and where did you do it?
The first time I ever brewed a batch of beer on my own was as a brewer at SweetWater Brewing Co. in Atlanta. I believe it was a batch of 420 (Extra Pale Ale).
What’s your favorite beer style?
I really enjoy session farmhouse ales.
Do you have a mentor in the brewing world?
I have many. I stay in touch with all the brewers I’ve previously worked with. The list is long: Adam Beauchamp, Nick Nock, Kevin McNerney, Gary Essex, Wayne Wambles, Madison Roane, to name a few.
What inspires you when you’re brewing?
I’m inspired by being able to create my own art in the beer—whether it’s a totally new recipe or blending barrel-aged beers, I enjoy the challenge of creating new flavors.
What do you attribute to your success?
I attribute my success to all the great people I’ve had the privilege to work with, who have believed in me and helped me get to the next level. I also owe a lot to my partner, Devon Kreps, and the fantastic beer community we have in the Tampa Bay area.
What do you think drives the popularity of craft beer?
I feel the growing popularity of craft beer is driven by the consumers who no longer want to have their beer choices dictated to the them by the mass domestic lager breweries. People are looking for more depth in beer and enjoy supporting local business—all of which is helping craft beer sales.
In general, how do you think the next generation of brewers will shake up the craft beer world?
I think the next generation of craft brewers will keep the blade sharp. Craft brewers are very creative and often hard to predict. I’m not sure what the future holds but I look forward to it.
In particular, how will you contribute to that shake up?
At the Seventh Sun we plan to continue to grow our wood cellar and offer many more blends of beers, both sour and not. The art of blending is pretty new to our consumers in Florida, and I feel it will help our beer scene continue to progress and evolve.
Last one: Cascadian dark ale or black IPA?
Definitely Cascadian dark. There’s nothing too pale about a black IPA.
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