John Silver, Gentleman Brewer

Yesterday John mashed-in a batch of Gateway Kolsch at around ten in the morning, then hopped down the four rung step-ladder that links the brewhouse and the floor. The French Broad Brewery’s head brewer Chris Richards noted in that moment that the stepladder also linked John’s old life as a bachelor and consummate brewer for small local crafty start-ups with his new life as a husband and professional shift-brewer for Oskar Blues.

A product of the region, John’s resume includes lengthy stints with both Catawba and Pisgah in addition to his two-plus years as a key ingredient in the malt backbone of our batch down here in the barn by the stream. Because he is a true gentleman, he never requested that anyone refer to him as such, but it was quickly apparent to me upon getting hired that never had a milder or more courteous fellow tipped a bin of cracked malt into a lauter-tun.  It’s my hope that the nickname sticks in the future iterations of his vocation (though if it does it’ll have to be through my own aggrandizement, since he’s not going to tell anybody about it).

As the first native of the Asheville brewing scene to be wooed and wed by an incoming heavyweight, John’s leap into a broader legitimacy mirrors in microcosm the city’s own. He followed his passion, converted it into a trade, refined that trade to an art form, and finally brewed himself into a bona fide career with the benediction and imprimatur of a 100k bbl per year hombre. And tomorrow we’re all heading out to Spruce Pine to see him married to an artist with a spell of wage-and-tip pint-pouring in her past.

Hello, Asheville, and congratulations. My how you’ve grown.

-D.W.

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