Brewing Exceptional Beers Behind the Scenes

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

Brian Hunt of Moonlight Brewing Co.

Brian Hunt

Moonlight Brewing Co.

Santa Rosa, California

At the time I graduated,” Brian Hunt remembers, “there were 43 brewing companies in the entire United States.” His first job out of UC Davis’ brewing school in 1980 was at Schlitz’s Milwaukee brewery, which closed around a year and a half after Hunt started there. That was enough time to instill some key lessons. “One is that quality is of the utmost importance,” he explains of his Schlitz tenure. Another? “A beer needs to be drinkable, not just a novelty.”

Hunt headed to Berkeley and elsewhere in California, serving as a consultant for breweries in the process of opening up, including Anderson Valley and North Coast. “I can’t begin to tell you how many breweries I’ve designed,” he says of these earlier efforts. “It was the frontier.”

Hunt first brewed under the Moonlight name in 1992, in a barn he rebuilt behind the house he was renting in Santa Rosa. “The first beer that I was most proud of was Death & Taxes,” he says of the brewery’s flagship dark lager. “I had a taste vision in my head one day of this beer that I wanted. … With all the beer styles we have in the world, why doesn’t this exist?”

Hunt’s intern, Alexandre Cardona, brought a master’s degree in winemaking to the small brewery, and he expects Cardona will soon return to France to start his own. “He emailed over 100 breweries in California,” Hunt recalls. “I was the only one who said yes.”

– Ken Weaver

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