Neil Witte

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

I am the Field Quality Manager. Back in the early 90s, I happened to be both an avid homebrewer and a little confused about what direction to go out of college (my degrees in Philosophy and German weren’t giving me the guidance I had hoped for). A good friend of mine happened to be the head winemaker at a local mid-Missouri winery and, knowing my interest in beer, got me on helping around the winery during the busy season. From there I landed an assistant brewer job with a local brewpub company in Kansas City and in late ’97 got on with Boulevard as a brewer. After three years I took on the newly created position that I still hold today.

What’s new at Boulevard?

So many things! We have some exciting new limited release beers coming out soon, including a wheat wine and an oak-aged rye. And this is on the heels of the release of our newest year-round brand, Boulevard Pilsner. That beer is new in more than one way, as it is in longneck bottles as opposed to our regular heritage bottle. This allows us to employ some of the flexibility of our new bottling line we installed last year. We also have Unfiltered Wheat Beer in a 16-ounce aluminum bottle.

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

Well, first of all, the beer. Very few of us could envision 15 or 20 years ago what truly wonderful beers American craft brewers would be cranking out. I know I couldn’t. Secondly, the brewing community, and that includes our distributors, too. Rarely do you see the kind of passion and camaraderie that you see in this business.

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

I’m a family man (three kids) and an avid disc-golfer. I’m also a geek about beer—I’m always looking for new beers to try and for new things to learn about beer.

What’s your favorite food and beer pairing?

I’m a Kansas City barbecue guy—long end spare ribs and Boulevard Pale Ale is a classic. The caramelized flavors of the barbecued meat match the caramel malt character of the Pale Ale and the hop bitterness of the beer helps to cut through the fattiness of the ribs. I also really like a Pyrenees cheese and Boulevard Tank 7 Saison. Pyrenees has a citrusy character that complements the citrusy aroma and flavor of the Saison’s Amarillo hops. Pyrenees cheese is also very creamy which contrasts nicely with the crispness of Tank 7.

What’s your biggest accomplishment unrelated to your job?

Raising smart, happy, healthy kids.

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

I’m a big fan of Duvel and their domestic sister brewery’s [Ommegang] Hennepin.

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

Many years ago I had the opportunity to try several locally made light lagers in Soviet Russia. One particular event stands out in Petrosavodsk, where we were looking for some beer for our tour group and we approached the only bar we could find. Although it was closed (at 5 p.m., suspiciously) the bartenders agreed to sell us some beer. Although I didn’t know much about beer or draught at the time, I was struck by the backroom system they poured the beer from. I recall it looking somewhat like a hot water heater with a hose coming from the bottom. They washed out and filled five 3-liter pickle jars, which supplied the evening’s festivities. The beer was not good, but the whole thing made for one of my most memorable beer experiences.

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