Brewers Association

Jerry Gnagy

Jerry Gnagy

What’s your current position at your brewery, and how did you get started in the craft brewing industry?

I am currently the brewmaster at Bluegrass Brewing Company Brewpubs [in Louisville, Ky]. A long track record of poor life choices led me to the industry, which is more than likely also the case with most of my colleagues in the beer business. After homebrewing throughout high school and college, I caught on at Big Rock Chophouse in Birmingham, Mich. and learned the business there from a great brewer and teacher, Dean Jones. He is not the guy who acted in "The Love Bug"...it was a different guy.

What’s new at Bluegrass?

We just opened another brewery location in Louisville late last year. It was interesting and fun to set up a brewery in a historic bank building where we were given a broom closet and a hallway in the basement to install a 15-barrel system. It was a challenge but we pulled it off somehow. We also have started sending our beer overseas to the Mikkeller Bar and some other European bars, which is a pretty neat thing for us.

What’s the best part of being a part of the craft brewing community?

I’ve always said being part of the craft brewing community is just like being a rock star, minus the money, fame, women, etc. Also the sense of community with other brewers we meet. Especially the guys that do a lot of preening and take themselves very seriously—those are the people we love to mess with, which is always fun.

What do you like to do in your time away from the brewery?

I was an avid runner, loved to read classic literature, and have traveled extensively. Then I had two children and now I spend most of my time off dancing to the Wiggles and singing songs with Barney the big purple dinosaur. But I wouldn’t trade them for anything.

What’s your favorite food and beer pairing?

I love Kansas City style ribs with a nice balanced American style pale ale. Working with great chefs on beer and food pairings interests me. I find that it is useful in educating people on pairing theories and the vast range of beer styles we brewers work with.

What’s your biggest accomplishment unrelated to your job?

The obvious answer is the two children; they are more precious to me than anything. But if I had to pick a second, I would go with when I was back in school at Adams College. I won the big tricycle/beer chugging race at the Greek games. It helped propel my fraternity, Lambda Lambda Lambda, past the Alpha Betas, resulting in us taking control of the Greek counsel.

What’s your favorite beer that your brewery does not produce?

I know it’s anathema to say it, but I’ve always like Miller High Life. But in the craft realm, I tend to like certain breweries rather than specific beers because my tastes are always changing. So my favorite breweries are the ones who consistently put out quality beers, regardless of the styles they produce.

What’s the most memorable travel destination at which you’ve had a chance to sample the local beer?

I haven’t been anywhere in a while, but my last trip to Chicago stands out in my mind. The beers at Goose Island, both the production facility and the brewpub, were outstanding. Rock Bottom and Revolution were fantastic, and I also had a great time trying new things from around the world at The Local Option. The best “beer” trip I’ve had in a long time.

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