Brewing Exceptional Beers Behind the Scenes

All About Beer Magazine - Volume 36, Issue 5
November 1, 2015 By

Mark Jilg of Craftsman Brewing Co.

Mark Jilg

Craftsman Brewing Co.

Pasadena, California

At an earlier point in his life, Craftsman’s Mark Jilg was doing image processing and photo work at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. He had been interested in archival color printing within the fine arts world, running his own printing business for seven years. Now photochemical work was slowly disappearing. “I knew that my days were numbered.”

Jilg started Craftsman in 1995 while still a full-time employee, such that he was brewing beer on the weekend and selling it in the evening. “You couldn’t just pick up the phone and order a brewery,” Jilg recalls. “Especially if you were trying to do it on a shoestring.”

In the past few years, Craftsman has been doing more mixed fermentations. “Beers that have acidity,” Jilg notes. “Beers that have organic fruit in them.” All the challenges of “going from a brewery that has nine fermenters that are stainless steel to having all of this wooden stuff.”

Even today Craftsman remains rather modestly sized, with three employees producing about 3,500 barrels. “Craftsman was never really created to be anything other than a vehicle for me to explore and understand beer,” Jilg explains. “We’re not doing this to make lots of money. And we’re not doing this to make lots of beer.” His art background and temperament orient his take on the process. “Beer really is a beautifully abstract method of expressing yourself.”

– Ken Weaver

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