Bryan Shimkos

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

I am the head brewer at Ale Syndicate in Chicago, Ill. I began in the industry in quality control and occasionally getting a few hours as a grunt, washing kegs and scrubbing mold.

What’s new at Ale Syndicate?

So much going on now! We are in the process of building our own brewery from the ground up. With a nearly empty building, there is no lack of work to get production started.

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

How craft beer brings us and our consumers together, and being able to talk about beer and share their excitement and curiosity. Also the great people who are involved in the craft beer industry.

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

Away from the brewery, I am either homebrewing, doing some sort of home renovation (1920s house ALWAYS needs some kind of work), or just working in the shop on some crazy project.

What’s your favorite food and beer pairing?

There are a couple that I particularly enjoy. One that is good for an appetizer is a creamy, semi- soft cheese paired with a fruit lambic. The acidity of the lambic cuts the creamy cheese almost like they were made for each other. The other is a robust porter paired with a char-grilled steak. The complementary flavors of the roasted malts and the char on the steak make them almost meld together.

What’s your biggest accomplishment unrelated to your job?

Probably coming to Chicago (way out of my comfort zone!) and getting a graduate degree. Microbiology has really opened the door for me, and keeps me mindful in the brewery.

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

I enjoy a dry, non-fruit gueuze. Drie Fonteinen, Cantillon, and Oud Beersel make very good ones.

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

Two places come to mind when I think of my favorite beer destinations, but they couldn’t be more opposite. Germany produces some of the cleanest lagers and best hefeweizens that few can replicate. Their dedication to consistency and excellence is apparent in each liter. The warmth and gem tlichkeit some of the small German brewpubs welcome you with can only be experienced first-hand. Belgium, on the other hand, takes its beer brewing tradition a whole different direction. The wild fermented beers are not like any others in the world, and the relatively peculiar way they are made is also unique to Belgium. The free-thinking mindset is completely contrary to the German strict adherence to protocols. Together these make two of the fondest memories of a beer destination.

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